Arsenal v Hull
Barclays Premier League
Kick off: December 04, 2013 7:45 PM BST
With a tricky set of upcoming fixtures, there were more than likely some difficult decisions for Arsene Wenger before tonight’s game. Some players seem to be in need of a rest if they are to be fully fit for the big games against Man City and Chelsea, at the same time however, Arsenal had to make sure they were winning the games against the leagues ‘minnows’ in order to keep up the pressure.
While it was obvious to many that Giroud was one of the players needing a rest, it wasn’t as clear who his replacement should be. Certainly very few Arsenal fans were celebrating when Bendtner’s name popped up on the team sheet to spearhead the attack.
They were assuredly celebrating after just a minute though, when the big Dane rose above the Hull centre halfs to put Arsenal into the lead. Ramsey put a perfectly weighted ball down the line for Jenkinson, who drove his cross into the box perfectly for Bendtner. 1-0 Arsenal.
The next fifteen minutes were truly the Arsenal show, with the North London side setting up camp in Hull’s final third. Arsenal were constantly threatening the Hull goal, and should have scored if it wasn’t for some good keeping and defensive blocking. The resulting corners came just as close, Mertesacker winning several near post flick ons, the ball pinballing around the area before being cleared.
Bendtner came close to doubling his tally, when the ball fell to him a couple of yards out after an Özil shot was spilled by McGregor, the Dane’s touch was poor though and all he could do was watch as the ball knocked off his shin and trickled out for a goal kick. Ramsey was denied from range twice by McGregor, an absolute rocket from thirty yards pushed round the post, and a tricky shot on the turn well held by the Hull keeper.
Arsenal seemed to drop off a little as the half went on, and Hull certainly looked capable of pinching a goal. The ball was put into dangerous areas by the Tigers’ wide men, no one able to capitalize thankfully. We went into half time Arsenal leading 1-0.
Arsenal started off the second half in the same way they started the first; with a goal. Monreal doing well to keep the ball in play, and feed Özil. The German playmaker passed the ball to Ramsey before making a run behind the defence, the Welshman returning the favour and picking him out superbly with a well disguised ball. Özil showed good composure to slide the ball past McGregor making the scoreline far more comfortable for Arsenal.
Hull were given a couple of chances from Arsenal defensive errors, first Koscielny with a poor pass out of the back, then Szczesny with a woeful clearance. Hull weren’t able to take advantage though, and Arsenal kept their run of clean sheets; the Gunners now having the best defence in the league.
Wilshere and Walcott came on for the last fifteen minutes, with Arteta getting a cameo too. Walcott didn’t look convincing in the lone striker role, but lets not forget he is just back from injury and wasn’t given a huge amount of service. This was a good chance to rest a few key players for Arsenal who should be in confident mood heading into a tough seven days of fixtures.
on the performance…
We had a good night because we had a good control of the game. We had some great technical quality and keep a clean sheet. We rotated quite a bit as well. We couldn’t take all the chances we created but overall it was a very convincing performance.
on whether playing Bendtner was a gamble…
Look, [it is a gamble] if a guy has not played for a long time, and his last performance was not convincing against Chelsea, but he has worked hard in training and deserved a chance.
on Bendtner proving people wrong…
We know that when he has the mind of the game, he has the qualities. I believe tonight he had a good game.
on Bendtner’s future…
At the moment we are not as far as that. He has the stature, he has good technical quality, he has quite good pace. Look, we had him as a boy of 15 or 16 and I made him sign a long contract twice so that means I always believed in his qualities.
on whether he was tempted to play Walcott…
Walcott couldn’t practise before we played our last game at Cardiff because he was sick. When we came back on Monday he was sick again, so he just had a little session. In the last week he has not practised at all, so I was never tempted to start him. He has not played for seven weeks and he did very little in the last week. He is not completely ready.
on Man United being 12 points behind…
No [I won’t rule them out of the title race]. It’s still early. It is a surprising defeat [to Everton] but it is still early. We have seen that before, 12 points, only on us. We have just to keep winning to have a chance, and not worry too much about the others.
on a big week ahead…
We have a very heavy schedule, that’s why as well I had to rest some players today and to rotate. Now we play Everton on Sunday, there is little distance between Everton and [the Napoli game]. We play Wednesday night in Naples and Saturday morning at Man City, so for us it is a very very heavy schedule.
on the schedule…
It’s not fair or unfair, it is just no co-ordination between the television choices because you would say that we could have played on Saturday against Everton and we could play Sunday or Monday against Man City. It looks strange that we play Saturday morning and our next game after that is Monday night against Chelsea nine days later. Especially when there is little time between a decisive Champions League game on Wednesday night and Saturday 12.45pm.
Here are some of the top tweets from today’s game:
Nicklas Bendtner scores his first league goal for Arsenal since Dec. 29, 2010. That’s 1,071 days ago.”
“Some of the great Premier League strikers scoring tonight. Suarez, Aguero….Bendtner”
” Arsenal Supporters’ singing ‘there’s only one Pat Rice’. Great stuff.”
“We should have had six tonight at least.”
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Jenkinson Koscielny Mertesacker(c) Monreal
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