Needing to bounce back from the bad loss mid week in the league to Southampton Arsenal began their defence of the FA Cup with a hard-fought win as Hull City failed to gain a measure of revenge for defeat in last year’s final. Per Mertesacker rose above the Hull defence to powerfully head in the opener from Alexis Sanchez’s corner. Arsenal controlled the first half and almost doubled their lead when Hull’s Paul McShane cleared off the line. Hull grew in confidence after half-time but Sanchez’s sharp turn and calm finish inside 18 yards sealed victory. The Chile forward has become Arsenal’s talisman since his £35m summer move from Barcelona and another moment of quality eased any lingering fears of Hull snatching a late draw at the Emirates.
The finishing needs to be more clinical for Arsenal. I do understand that Theo Walcott hasn’t played for a year being out with injury (except for a brief run in as a substitute) isn’t match sharp and would have killed the couple of chances that he missed. And then after scoring the opening goal it looked like Arsenal dropped a gear or two. Things were looking a bit too dull and pedestrian and the pace had dropped as well as the chances for a while, the defense needing to do more work and the midfield unable to string passes and Walcott & Sanchez seemed to tire. In truth, the Tigers rarely looked capable of avenging their dramatic 3-2 defeat at Wembley last May and this third-round tie failed to match the fever and tension of last season’s showpiece.
Positives : Theo is back but needs a few games to bring himself to full mach fitness because at his best he is excellent. Mertesacker had a decent game which is important. David Ospina looked solid and he is fully fit and could play a few games in goal for us. Joel Campbell finally gets a start and although he didn’t finish well, he was running back, tackling and defending all match. However, based on these last few performances I have seen, Arsenal will be lucky to get 4th. 6th is more likely where we will finish at the end of the season. This is why Arsenal are in 6th place. Can’t kill a game that they are dominating and have had so many chances.