Two goals from Alexis Sanchez were enough for all three points at the Emirates Stadium during a controversial match. The first one appeared to come off the Chilean’s hand before the Sanchez knocked in a penalty in stoppage time.
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Match: Arsenal v Hull City
Stadium: Emirates Stadium
Kick-Off (GMT): Sat 11 Feb 12:30
Arsenal started the match quite brightly. Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez took advantage of some sloppy Hull defending to fashion a couple of chances early on. Hull hit back and should’ve taken the lead. Lazar Markovic dribbled 40 yards unopposed before squaring an excellent cross which evaded forward Oumar Niasse.
Niasse came close with a header a few minutes later before a couple of quickfire Arsenal openings which really should’ve ended in a goal. Hector Bellerin blasted wide just before Alexis Sanchez squandered the best chance of the early exchanges. The ball rebounded to the Chilean who had time to pick his spot from 10 yards out but dragged it wide of the far post.
The Gunners had to wait for the opening goal. Özil played the ball into the box and after a rebound, it fell perfectly for Kieran Gibbs to have a shot. The full-back struck a sweet half-volley which was destined for the far corner before being blocked on the line. Alexis Sanchez seized on the loose ball, eventually bumbling it into the back of the net. Replays show that the goal actually came off the Chilean’s hand but neither Sanchez nor the rest of the Arsenal players seemed to mind.
The second half started slowly. Arsenal seemed to be sitting back slightly and didn’t fashion very much in the opening exchanges. It was Hull City who came closest through Oumar Niasse but the on-loan Everton man could only find the stretched gloves of Petr Cech after a sharp turn and shot.
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The Gunners seemed content with the one goal lead as they continued to sit back in the second-half. This invited quite bit of Hull City pressure which didn’t exactly come to anything. A couple of half-chances for the visitors who were given a lot of set pieces.
Arsenal had to wait late to guarantee the points. The Gunners broke away in stoppage time. Alexis Sanchez latched onto a through ball which Hull goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic had looked to latch onto. Sanchez skipped past the keeper before crossing to Lucas Perez at the back post. The Spaniard’s header was destined for the back of the net but for the hand of Sam Clucas. The midfielder was shown a straight red card and the referee pointed to the spot. Alexis Sanchez stepped up to get his and Arsenal’s second, suring up all three points for Arsene Wenger’s men. The best possible start to this crucial run of fixtures.
Here’s how we’ve rated the Arsenal players:
GK) Petr Cech – 6
Made one huge save to stop Oumar Niasse in the second-half. He saved everything he should have and made a couple of nice catches. A better performance from Petr Cech.
RB) Hector Bellerin – 6
It was 50/50 over whether he’d play today but Hector Bellerin put in a pretty good performance. He was tested by Kamil Grosicki in the first-half but recovered well. The Spaniard looked dangerous going forward and came close with a shot early on.
CB) Laurent Koscielny – 7
He was left exposed by the players around on a number of occasions this afternoon but handled most of the tests. Lazar Markovic did skip past Laurent Koscielny a couple of times but the Frenchman can be generally pleased with his performance.
CB) Shkodran Mustafi – 6
The German was certainly better than he was last week against Chelsea. Shkodran Mustafi put in a pretty decent performance. He wasn’t quite as dominative as his defensive partner but Mustafi’s distribution was pretty good from the back.
LB) Kieran Gibbs – 6
He was really tested by Lazar Markovic defensively. The on-loan Liverpool winger was very dangerous down Hull City’s left flank and Kieran Gibbs was exposed at times. Going forward, the Englishman was much better. He tested the Hull backline a number of times
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