This weekend will see Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal take on a resurgent Hull City side at the Emirates before their Champions League last 16 fixture against Bayern Munich.
Arsenal are in dire straits at the moment. After a positive start to 2017, the Gunners have capitulated in the Premier League again with two back to back defeats – at home to Watford and away at Stamford Bridge raising familiar questions about their mentality or a lack thereof to sustain a title challenge. Manager Arsene Wenger has received a lot of stick on the back of their recent collapse and it has been an eventful weekend for Arsenal fans after the criticism they have received from the media – and in particular Gary Neville of Sky Sports coming in hard at the supporters, that has caused a stir around the Emirates. Anything but a win on Saturday could even worsen the atmosphere which is the last thing Arsenal would want ahead of an important period for the club.
The mental state of Hull is quite the opposite. New manager Marcos Silva has brought the belief back as the team has now got the look and replicate the form of a steady mid-table side with a strong foundation at the back. This new found and fairly successful game plan has worked a treat so far – with Hull picking up 7 of the last 12 points available to them in this remarkable spell of rejuvenation. Arguably their biggest and most impressive result of the season came last week when they brushed Liverpool aside to win 2-0. They would probably never face another top quality side in Arsenal at a better time – and given their own need for points to survive the drop, it will be a big test for the visitors to continue their good run of performances come Saturday.
Mohamed Elneny is back in training after a gut-wrenching AFCON final loss to Cameroon and could replace makeshift central-midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain if he recovered in time from a minor calf injury. Granit Xhaka will sit out of the match as he serves the final match of his suspension for a red card picked up against Burnley while Hector Bellerin faces a race against time to return from the concussion he picked up after a clash with Marcos Alonso.
Hull have no new injury or suspension worries for their trip to the Emirates. Michael Dawson is still out with a calf strain while Will Keane and Curtis Davies are long-term absences.
- Arsenal have scored at least 2 goals in 12 of their last 13 matches against Hull in all competitions.
- Hull have failed to win their last 11 away matches (Premier League).
- There have been under 2.5 goals scored in Hull‘s last 3 games (Premier League).
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)
Alexis Sanchez, not only Arsenal’s stand out performer, but the Chilean forward is also one of the best players in the country. He has scored 15 goals so far, clearly benefited his change of position from a wide forward to spearheading the attack. He has also assisted a further 8 goals – stretching his influence to 23 of Arsenal’s 52 goals in the campaign so far.
With a goal/assist per game as prolific as that, the Chilean superstar is expected to deliver, especially in games against sides from the lower end of the table so that Arsenal could maintain the pressure on the other sides in and around them in this busy period.
Harry Maguire (Hull City)
Hull City’s recent revival has largely been down to the manager off the pitch and 23-year old center-half Maguire on it. The Sheffield born Maguire has been a rock at the back with this towering and commanding presence, something that any side fearful of relegation could not have enough of.
Maguire has also been instrumental in bringing the ball into midfield – his power allowing him to drive through the pitch without much effort and get his side work the ball in dangerous areas more often than they did in the first half of the season. If the visitors were to extend this phenomenal run they are on, then Maguire must continue what he has been doing so well in these recent weeks on Saturday at the Emirates Stadium.
Expect Arsenal to bounce back from their slump.
Arsenal 2-0 Hull City