Arsenal ended a run of five games without a win by beating Hull in an FA Cup fifth-round replay to secure a quarter-final against Watford. The Gunners were gifted the lead when Hull’s David Meyler set up Olivier Giroud to slot home. Aaron Ramsey almost scored an own goal to let Hull back in but Giroud volleyed in to extend Arsenal’s lead. Theo Walcott wrapped up the victory for the holders when he side-footed in and then rifled in a late shot. Giroud celebrated the birth of his baby boy on Monday and manager Arsene Wenger hoped it would inspire him to break his 11-game scoring drought. The France striker was restored to the starting line-up, along with fellow forward Walcott, but the pair initially struggled against Hull, who had not conceded in six previous home games.
The Tigers were employing a three centre-back formation and rarely looked like being breached until Meyler’s mistake allowed Giroud to slot in his first goal since 13 January. Walcott’s form has also been a concern and, although he looked short of confidence, he set up Giroud’s second before looking like his former self when his late double gave him his first goals in five games. Despite a return to winning ways for manager Arsene Wenger’s side, some Gunners fans held up a banner reading ‘Arsene, thanks for the memories but it’s time to say goodbye’. The priority for both of these teams are their league campaigns as Arsenal remain in the hunt for the Premier League title, while Hull are challenging for promotion from the Championship. The home side made seven changes and the Gunners six, with the visitors forced into more of a reshuffle when centre-back Per Mertesacker went off injured early on after a clash of heads with Nick Powell.
Arsenal were playing their sixth game in 18 days and, with centre-back Laurent Koscielny already sidelined, the exit of fellow defender Gabriel in the second half has provided the Gunners with problems at the heart of their defence. Gabriel’s replacement in midfielder Aaron Ramsey lasted only 16 minutes before an apparent shoulder injury ended his participation and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger now faces a selection dilemma against Watford on Sunday. His side may be attempting to win a third successive FA Cup but, after their last-eight tie, they will attempt an unlikely Champions League comeback from 2-0 down at Barcelona before returning to league action.