Premier League

Arsenal 2-0 Hull: Five Things We Learned

 • by Philip Costa
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Arsenal beat Hull 2-0 at the Emirates, with Alexis Sanchez grabbing two goals to take him to 17 league goals for the season.

Here are five things Philip Costa learned.


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Hull and Marco Silva will not go down without a fight

When football fans across the country look over this result, a routine Arsenal victory will probably spring to mind. However, this could not be further from the truth. Despite the Gunners opening up their opponents at will in the first half, Hull posed a significant threat on the counter that merely got stronger as the game went on. Laurent Koscielny and Kieran Gibbs, usually so assured in defence, endured a torrid afternoon against Lazar Markovic who seems rejuvenated under Marco Silva.

Andrew Robertson was relentless down the left-hand side, with his crossing causing the hosts all sorts of problems. Oumar Niasse, marginalised at Everton, constantly ran the channels and troubled Shkodran Mustafi throughout the 90 minutes with his power and pressing. Even Harry Maguire threatened with his aerial prowess and marauding runs from the back in the second half. Their only problem was lacking that final bit of quality to put the chances away.

Nobody knows if Hull can find it within themselves to avoid the drop, but they’re giving it a good try.

Tom Huddlestone and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arsenal v Hull

READ MORE: Arsenal 2-0 Hull: Player Ratings

Oxlade-Chamberlain continues to make central midfield his own

With Arsenal lacking natural midfield options due to injury and suspension, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was again picked to play in the centre and completely justified his manager’s decision. Speaking in January 2016, Wenger said: ‘He has the attributes to play in central midfield. That important quality – a little surge to get out of pressure’. That little surge was evident today as the 23-year-old completed all five of his take-ons against Hull, more than any other player on either side.

Not only was he a constant driving force for the Gunners, but his passing and defensive work were also up to scratch. Oxlade-Chamberlain completed 41 of his 48 attempted passes, made twelve ball recoveries throughout and even won four tackles in what was a very well rounded performance. It’s still unclear whether he will continue in this role with Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin all available for selection ahead of their next fixture, but the former Southampton man is certainly making a case for himself having struggled for consistency in the wider areas this season.

Kieran Gibbs and Lazar Markovic during Arsenal v Hull

Lazar Markovic showing signs of a resurgence

After failing to impress at Liverpool following his £20m move from Benfica, Markovic has spent the last two seasons on loan at Fenerbahce, Sporting Lisbon and now Hull. Written off by many despite his best years laying ahead of him, the 22-year-old put in a fantastic performance at the Emirates. Given license to roam down the right flank, he was a constant source of danger for the away side who are enjoying a resurgence themselves in the Premier League.

Using his pace to good effect, he created three chances from open play, two more than any other Hull player. Markovic also put in a shift defensively making three tackles and seven ball recoveries, in addition to providing a much needed out ball for his defence alongside the willing Oumar Niasse. It’s easy to forget that the Serbian international is still a very young player, and some players take time adapting to new leagues and surroundings. Should he continue to perform like this for the Tigers, a future at Anfield is still very much a possibility.

Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez against Hull

READ MORE: Are Arsenal More Than Just Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez?

Arsenal cannot afford to lose Alexis Sanchez

In what may be a brilliant case of stating the obvious, Arsenal cannot afford to lose Sanchez. The Chilean was again the difference maker for his team when they were not at their fluent best, but in desperate need of three points. Sanchez was often guilty of taking too many touches and turning into trouble, which frustrated the fans and undoubtedly his manager at times, but his willingness to grab matches by the scruff of the neck and create something is a quality visibly lacking in this side.

The 28-year-old has now contributed to 31 goals (19 goals, 12 assists) in 31 games this season, and is the club’s top scorer and assister by some distance. Arsenal have always preferred to deal with their transfer business and contract situations in private, but the longer his future remains unsolved, the harder it becomes to convince everybody that you are a top club looking to achieve. The likes of PSG and Juventus are already beginning to circle like vultures with less than 18 months on his current deal.

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil

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Mesut Ozil struggles

With Alexis doing everything he can to prove he deserves wage parity amongst the Premier League’s highest earners, Mesut Ozil is currently doing the complete opposite. Silky, incisive and unplayable on his day, the last few months have seen the German lose confidence and form when his team-mates needed him the most. Having started the season brightly in a new advanced role, Ozil has not scored since December 13th, assisting just twice in eight matches since then.

Usually at the heart of everything good Arsenal do going forward, he is finding himself more and more on the periphery of things and is struggling to assert himself on games. Ozil completed just 33 of his 45 passes against Hull and was guilty of losing the ball far too easily in midfield. This time last year, the German was playing his best football for the club and on the verge of breaking a Premier League assists record. Now, nobody knows if he has a future at the club, and I’m sure many don’t care.

Watch Episode 11 of Football Whispers TV.