Arsenal begin FA Cup defence with third round victory over Hull
19:26 04 January 2015
Arsenal 2 Hull City 0
Goals from Per Mertesacker and Alexis Sanchez secured victory for the FA Cup holders as they overcame Hull in a rerun of last year’s final.
Mertesacker headed in his first goal of the season from a Sanchez corner before the Chilean doubled Arsenal’s advantage late on to seal their place in the fourth round.
Arsenal might have snatched the lead after only four minutes when Joel Campbell played a one-two with Sanchez and fired goalwards, only to be foiled by the outstretched leg of Steve Harper.
Another incisive move involving Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott set up Sanchez, whose initial shot was charged down by Harry Maguire before a follow-up chip beat the back-pedalling Harper but dropped onto the roof of the net.
However, the breakthrough arrived on 20 minutes – and it was based on simplicity rather than any particularly eye-catching moment of class.
Hector Bellerin’s pace earned the Gunners a corner and Sanchez whipped it to the far post, where Mertesacker arrived to outjump Curtis Davies and nod home.
The home side could have put the tie out of sight almost immediately as Tomas Rosicky’s darting run and pass split the Hull defence and Sanchez rounded Harper, but his shot was cleared off the line by Stephen Quinn.
Harper then reacted quickly to keep out Nacho Monreal’s deflected header from the resulting corner and also dived to save from Walcott soon afterwards.
At the other end, Gunners goalkeeper David Ospina – making his first appearance in three months – was largely untroubled, apart from fielding routine headers from Maguire and Paul McShane.
The second goal proved elusive for Arsenal at the start of the second half as Sanchez struck an angled drive that Harper dived to smother and then set up Campbell, whose effort fizzed wide.
Walcott could also have settled the cup holders’ nerves as he raced onto a crafty through ball from Cazorla and attempted to dink it over Harper, but scuffed it wide instead.
Hull sent on Uruguayan forward Abel Hernandez, who scored in their 2-2 draw at the Emirates earlier in the season, but his only sniff of goal on this occasion was an optimistic effort that he blazed over from distance.
And the Gunners finally wrapped up victory eight minutes from time as Cazorla found Sanchez, who deftly sidestepped Davies before curling an unstoppable finish into the bottom corner.
Tom Ince went close to reducing the deficit when he chested down and unleashed a volley that grazed the woodwork, but his side were already more comfortably beaten than the scoreline suggested.
Arsenal: Ospina; Bellerin, Chambers, Mertesacker, Monreal; Coquelin; Walcott (Oxlade-Chamberlain 76), Rosicky, Cazorla, Campbell (Maitland-Niles 90); Sanchez (Akpom 84).