Arsenal-Hull City Preview
Hull City and Arsenal may be in different halves of the Premier League table but both sides have plenty to play for when they clash at the KC Stadium on Monday evening.
The Tigers (8-10-16) boosted their chances of winning their battle against relegation after securing back-to-back league victories against Crystal Palace and Liverpool, yet despite those welcome wins, Steve Bruce’s side are 16th in the standings and only one point above the relegation zone.
After winning 2-0 at Palace last Saturday, Hull beat Liverpool 1-0 at home three days later thanks a rare goal from defender Michael Dawson, who headed home a cross from Ahmed Elmohamady on 37 minutes. The result against the Merseysiders saw the Tigers record back-to-back clean sheets in the Premier League for the first time since October 2013.
Hull midfielder Robbie Brady has warned his teammates they still have work to do to secure their top-flight status.
"We’ve put ourselves in a good position with the two wins in the last few days but we need to get ready to go again," Brady told his club website. "We said that after we beat Palace last weekend and we said it again straight after beating Liverpool on Tuesday night.
"The job is not done yet and we’ll keep on going until we know we’re safe and beyond. We’ve got another tough test coming up on Monday night against Arsenal, but it’s good that it’s a home game. The crowd were right behind us on Tuesday and that helped us to get the win against Liverpool and I don’t see why we can’t do the same against Arsenal."
The Gunners (20-7-6) slipped to third in the table after their eight-match winning streak in the Premier League ended with a goalless draw against table-topping Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium last weekend.
Arsenal will want to pick up as many points as possible from their remaining five league games to directly qualify for the Champions League.
Olivier Giroud, who has scored 18 goals for Arsenal this season, acknowledges the Gunners’ title chances are all but over after the stalemate against Chelsea. However, the France striker insists his team can finish runners-up in the league, go on to beat Aston Villa in the FA Cup Final at Wembley on May 30 and then emerge an even better team next season.
"Hopefully if we can have less injuries, keep the same group and with maybe one or two new players, we will have a great season (next year)," Giroud told his club website. "We have to finish this one first, and to get second and win the FA Cup would be a great season. It has been a few years since we finished second and if we can do it we can see an improvement, which is great."
Hull striker Nikica Jelavic has returned to training after a knee injury, while midfielder David Meyler is back from suspension. Scottish defender Andy Robertson is also available again after recovering from an ankle problem.
Arsenal fullback Mathieu Debuchy (hamstring) is doubtful, while midfielders Mikel Arteta (ankle) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin) are still not match fit.
The Gunners scored late to earn a 2-2 draw when the sides met at the Emirates Stadium in October. Alexis Sanchez put Arsenal in front after 13 minutes, but Mohamed Diame equalised before halftime for Hull. Abel Hernandez netted just seconds after the restart for the Tigers and it took the Londoners until the 91st-minute to level the score through Danny Welbeck.
Arsenal beat Hull 3-2 in the 2014 FA Cup Final to end Arsene Wenger side’s nine-year drought without a trophy.The Gunners also claimed a hard-earned 2-0 win against the Tigers at the Emirates in the third round of this season’s FA Cup.