The FA Cup Big Match Preview: Arsenal vs Hull City

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Sunday 4th January – 17:30 – Emirates Stadium

It was the first tie to be pulled out of the hat when the 3rd round draw took place in Hull back in December. Plenty of ‘oohs’ from the crowd followed, with a repeat of last season’s final happening at the earliest possible round in 2014-15. The Tigers led 2-0 at Wembley before Arsenal fought back and won it in extra time through Aaron Ramsey’s goal to win their first piece of silverware in nine years. That day, both Steve Bruce and Arsene Wenger played full strength sides, but with this game only coming in the third round, there won’t be such an FA Cup buzz around The Emirates, with rotation expected, not only because of fatigue, but because some key players are also injured (see team news below). Of course, both sides only played three days ago, when Hull beat Everton 2-0 and Arsenal were on the wrong end of that scoreline against Southampton. Don’t expect the Wembley classic, but that’s by no means saying there could be a shock…

The Key Battle: Theo Walcott vs Curtis Davies

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Theo Walcott is yet to start a game for Arsenal this season, having made three substitute appearances since recovering from an injury that kept him out since the third round of the FA Cup last year, against bitter rivals Tottenham.

That meant he got to play no part in the remainder of the adventure in the competition in 2013-14, so will be raring to go if given a start by Arsene Wenger today.

When fit and given a regular run in the team, he can be clinical, with 21 goals inn 48 appearances in 2012-13, yet he’s not even an out and out striker. There are suggestions though, that that is where Wenger will play him against Hull.

The Tigers’ skipper Curtis Davies, who scored their second goal in the final last year, has admitted that losing at Wembley turned him into “a blubbering wreck” and the day “was the biggest of my football life”.

The centre-back scored three on Hull’s journey to final, so could his heroics return in the competition this season, as he looks to get on the scoresheet for the first time this season and seek revenge for his side’s dramatic defeat in May.

Team News

Arsenal

  • England forward Theo Walcott is expected to start for Arsenal in their third round FA Cup tie against Hull, after returning as a substitute on New Years’ Day.
  • Goalkeeper David Ospina is set to replace Wojciech Szczesny in Sunday’s clash at the Emirates, whilst Olivier Giroud serves the final match of his three game suspension.
  • Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), Mikel Arteta (calf), Mesut Ozil (knee), Abou Diaby (calf) and Jack Wilshere (ankle) are all out as they continue their rehabilitation.

Hull City

  • Steve Bruce welcomes back Tom Huddlestone from suspension as they look to repeat last season’s run in the competition, which saw them reach the final for the first time in their history.
  • Huddlestone is back after four games out and Stephen Quinn also returns following a one-match ban, while Harry Maguire, Tom Ince and Yannick Sagbo will be pushing for rare starts.
  • There are gaps to fill elsewhere, with Andy Robertson (ankle), Liam Rosenior (hamstring), Gaston Ramirez (groin), Mohamed Diame (knee) and Michael Dawson (hamstring) all missing.

Previous Meetings

Arsenal wins = 13 / Hull City wins = 3 / Draws = 4

Last Meeting: Arsenal 2-2 Hull City (18th October 2014)

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A stoppage-time Danny Welbeck goal denied Hull victory and ensured Arsenal avoided equalling their worst start to a league season under Arsene Wenger. Alexis Sanchez’s fierce low shot gave the hosts an early lead, but a disputed Mohamed Diame strike – the midfielder seemed to foul Mathieu Flamini – and an Abel Hernandez header put Steve Bruce’s side ahead. However, Welbeck guided in a clever Sanchez pass in the first minute of stoppage time to rescue a point.

Stat of the Match

Arsenal have lost just one of their last 38 FA Cup home matches (W28 D9 L1).

Where can I watch it?

BBC One are showing the game live, with their coverage beginning from 5:20pm, 10 minutes before kick-off. The highlights can then be seen on the same channel at 10:30pm.

My Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Hull City 

Arsenal-v-QPR

Like I’ve said, don’t expect the Wembley classic, but Hull do seem fired up for this one, seeking revenge for losing back in May. It may not be enough though, with even Arsenal’s second string team stronger than the side Steve Bruce is expected to put out at the Emirates. Alexis Sanchez and Thomas Rosicky will score for the hosts, but The Tigers’ should get on the scoresheet through Abel Hernandez.

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