Monday, 4 May 2015

Arsenal's Premier League Trip To Hull Previewed

First of all let me start by wishing everybody a Happy St. Totteringham's Day after yesterday's result brought about the demise of Spurs' hopes of catching us as per usual. I know it's not mathematically certain yet, but we won't lose our last five game and they won't win their last three as well as making up 26 goals on goal difference. It's been a permanent fixture since Arsene Wenger took the reins in 1996 and long may it continue.
Of course there was a downside to their defeat to City (if that can be possible) as it meant City's chances of finishing second ahead of Arsenal are still very much alive. They have three games to go and have a three point lead over Arsenal who of course have two games in hand. The big losers this weekend were United who lost at home to West Brom and are still two points behind Arsenal and have also played two games more than them.
The league title went to Chelsea as we all assumed when they again scraped through with a one goal win over a plucky Palace side. It was fitting that Chelsea should win the title thanks to a penalty won through a dive while the referee didn't give a penalty against serial cheat and all around scumbag John Terry at the other end. They are the champions though and deserve to be, but they make themselves so easy to hate and have bored most of us to tears recently with their unwillingness to even attempt entertaining football.
Anyway, back to Arsenal and their game against a Hull side who are still in an awful lot of trouble at the wrong end of the table. They're only one point above the relegation zone with four games for them to play and three games for the other teams around them except Sunderland. The way Newcastle are playing though Hull could save themselves with one point in their last four games and I wouldn't be surprised to see them play for that point tonight.
Their goal difference is far better than any of the other teams in the relegation battle and a point tonight would put them ahead of both Newcastle and Villa by that measure. I think we can safely say both Burnley and QPR are gone now so there is only one place left to be filled and the weekend results have to make Newcastle the favourites to fill it in my opinion. Hull have won their last two games against Liverpool and Palace and kept clean sheets in both games which shows they will be far from a pushover.
They will also want to get something from tonight to help dispel the memories of last season's FA Cup final when Arsenal came from 2-0 down to beat them. To add insult to injury Arsenal put them out of the competition this season too and Arsenl are again through to this season's final. They gave Arsenal some real problems in the final last May and they will probably look to take advantage of any set piece situations in this game too. 
When it comes to set pieces Arsenal have been the team with the most goals from them this season and Hull will need to be aware of that themselves. Not only that but Arsenal have been in great form in the league and had won eight games in a row before they drew 0-0 with Chelsea last week. Since the introduction of Francis Coquelin to the team Arsenal have been the best team in the league and have made themselves so much harder to beat thanks to his fantastic work in front of the defence.
Their away form hasn't been fantastic though and they have just about scraped through in most of their away games. I don't expect tonight to be any easier against a team who will fight tooth and nail to get every single point they can and have a tough run of games after today. Once you're relegated from the Premier League it's very difficult to come straight back up and that's a prospect Hull will not want to face.
In team news there doesn't look like there will be too much change from the team who drew with Chelsea last week and look like they are Arsene Wenger's first choice 11. It's a team which lacks a bit of width at times unless the full backs can get forward to add that to the attack. I suppose there's always a chance Theo Walcott will get the nod but I don't think so. 
We're down to the business end of the season now with so much to be decided in the next few weeks and Arsenal are still right up there in the fight for second place. As I've said before I think second in the league and retaining the FA Cup would be real progress for Arsenal this season and they're more than capable of doing just that. If they can start with three points tonight it will be the first step on the way to the targets for this season with a top four finish as good as guaranteed. Three points tonight would also leave Arsenal in a very good position to guarantee a top three finish ahead of United and ensure they don't have to face the final qualifying round for next season's Champions League. 
This season didn't start too well in the league at least with far too many draws for my liking, but the team have made up for it since then with a great points tally since the turn of the year. I think they will continue that progress tonight by taking the three points and making themselves favourites to finish runners up behind Chelsea. I want to see them do it in style, but most of all I want to see them win.
Finally for today here's a couple of pictures to remind you of a couple of famous victories for the club on this date in the past.
This one is from 1994 when a lone Alan Smith goal was enough for Arsenal to beat Parma 1-0 and win the Cup Winners Cup Final.

And this photo was from the 2002 FA Cup final when goals from Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg saw Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-0 and clinch their third double.

That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.

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