Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud
Subs: Szczesny, Gibbs, Gabriel, Flamini, Wilshere, Rosicky, Walcott
Arsenal remain on track to finish second in the Premier League following a 3-1 win at Hull City that puts them level on 70 points with Manchester City with a game in hand.
Alexis Sanchez bagged a brace either side of an Aaron Ramsey strike as the Gunners stylishly raced into a 3-0 first half lead. Steve Bruce’s relegation-threatened Tigers did net early in the second period through Stephen Quinn’s header, but the Gunners maintained their composure to grab three points that seal another glorious St Totteringham’s Day.
Arsene Wenger fielded the same starting XI that drew against Chelsea at the weekend. On the bench Tomas Rosicky replaced Danny Welbeck who picked up a knee knock in training yesterday. Prior to kick-off, the boss confirmed the England international had ‘a bit of inflammation’ but could be fit for next Monday’s game with Swansea.
Controlled possession was the name of the game for the Gunners in the first 20 minutes as Arsene Wenger’s men fizzed the ball around in midfield with the same slickness that has peppered their performances in 2015.
Hull had a couple of half chances – Aluko in particular was guilty of missing a header – but it felt like it was only a matter of time before we scored. On 28 minutes the deadlock was broken and it was three ex-Spurs players who combined to make it happen. You couldn’t have written a better script.
First Tom Huddlestone was dispossessed by the alert Ozil and when the ball fell to Sanchez there was little Jake Livermore could do but take out the Chilean as he darted towards the Hull box. From the resulting free-kick Michael Dawson applied a significant headed deflection to Sanchez’s shot. It completely wrong-footed Harper who watched the ball fly top centre into the net. (1-0)
Four minutes later we doubled the lead. This time Santi Cazorla was the architect. The little Spaniard spraying a quarter-back style 50-yard diagonal ball that Ramsey latched onto in the box. A fine bit of control saw the Welshman manouevre room for a shot and in the blink of an eye he swatted the ball, again with the hint of a deflection, into the top corner. (2-0)
The travelling Gooners celebrated with a round of ‘Boring, Boring, Chelsea’. And why the fuck not? They are. Even if they have just been crowned champions.
Santi, Ozil and Alexis all came close to adding a third in the moments before half-time; the latter denied after his deft chip was smartly read by Harper. Stoppage time did see us increase our lead, with Sanchez winning his personal duel with Hull’s 40-year-old stopper.
The interplay between Ozil and Ramsey was simply breathtaking and Arsenal’s top scorer made it look easy-peasy as he bound towards goal, rounded Harper and tucked home low for his 24th goal of the season and our 100th in all competitions. (3-0) Unsurprisingly, the home fans greeted the half-time whistle with boos.
Hull knew they needed to make a fast start to win back their fans and got their break in controversial circumstances on 55 minutes. Laurent Koscielny, much to the frustration of his teammates, was taken out by David Meyler and as play continued a cross was swung to the near post where Stephen Quinn clinically bounced a header past Ospina. On the touchline Arsene Wenger couldn’t hide his contempt for the referee.
Arsenal weren’t unduly ruffled by the upturn in noise. Indeed, sensing they could extend their lead they continued to play with confidence in the final third. Ozil, the king of the caressed flick, repeatedly slalomed his way through a packed midfield and Ramsey, rediscovering his Jesus swagger of last season, was more often than not the man on the receiving end of the German’s passing. Twice he should have scored before being replaced by Jack Wilshere on 67 minutes.
The England international wasted no time getting into the thick of things, racing past three challenges before being cynically felled 25-yards from goal. Alexis’ resulting effort was headed clear. The chances continued to be created at will. Cazorla, who made 100 out of 106 passes, twice nearly polished off flowing breaks before Bellerin, Wilshere and Sanchez all came close in the same move.
Deep into stoppage time Walcott, on as a sub for Giroud, flashed wide from eight yards and Sanchez dragged a further effort as he went in search of his hat-trick. It wasn’t to matter. To a hearty rendition of ‘We hate Tottnum’ the points and St Totteringham’s Day were sealed.