‘Glovely’ Alexis Sanchez brace sees Arsenal beat Hull City 2-0 on bitterly cold afternoon
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
Arsenal beat Hull City 2-0 at the Emirates with a brace from Alexis Sanchez in today’s early kick off in the Premier League.
The Chilean scored in the first half and again on 90 minutes to secure the game as Arsene Wenger’s men held on to overcome a Hull side which grew in confidence as the game wore on.
The Gunners finished the game nine points behind leaders Chelsea as they now look towards a trip to Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Hector Bellerin passed a fitness test after coming off with concussion after the controversial goalmouth incident which led to Chelsea’s first goal last week in Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat against the leaders at Stamford Bridge last Saturday.
Midfielder Mohamed Elneny was available again after returning from scoring in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations for Egypt as Hector Cuper’s Pharoah’s ultimately succumbed 2-1 to a redoubtable Cameroon side in Sunday’s final in Gabon.
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Hull were without skipper Michael Dawson and Abel Hernandez because of respective calf and hamstring injuries.
The visitors - buoyed by new head coach Marco Silva - who has been impressive since assuming the mantle from Mike Phelan last month, has seen his new team pick up seven points from his four Premier League games in charge. As many as the Humberside outfit gained in their previous 18 games.
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With Hull not having beaten the Gunners since a 2-1 win at the Emirates with a long-range stunner from the skilful Giovanni in September 2008, in their first ever season in the top flight many were tipping the home side to win easily.
But despite Arsenal having not lost three Premier League games in a row since January 2012 - and unbeaten in their last 13 meetings with Hull, with 11 wins and two draws the sensible money was on a far tougher test.
With the legendary Ian Wright suggesting this week the long-serving Wenger may see out the season before leaving, it was interesting to note there were no pointed chants pleading for the Frenchman to say in the Emirates before kick off.
But there were empty seats – plenty of them at the appointed 12.30pm start on a bitterly cold North London lunchtime, which also saw snow flurries to thrill the senses at least.
Arsenal tried to thrill too, with their early forays full of pace, movement and one-touch simplicity. Of course none of it led to a goal, it never seems to anymore – but it was a timely reminder that this great club hasn’t always had players capable of such sublime skill.
The rejoinder to that would be – the club hasn’t always gone 13 years without a league title.
On 13 minutes Hull nearly scored through a header from Oumar Niasse after a well-crafted cross from the
Moments later as Arsenal countered from the subsequent corner the ball fell to Bellerin well placed on the right of Eldin Jakopovic’s net. Unfortunately the dashing young right back who is already such a pivotal player for the team fired wide.
As did Alexis Sanchez 30 seconds later, as he worked space for a space for his low shot to fizzle past Jakopovic’s left hand post.
Although the Bosnian-born former FC Thun player – who was at the unheralded Swiss club as a raw youngster when they lost 2-1 at Highbury in the Champions League group stage in September 2005 – had a wonderfully energetic game during Hull’s 0-0 draw in the FA Cup fourth round last term, he will be wary of recalling his last two performances against the Gunners that has seen him ship eight goals in 4-0 and 4-1 thrashings at the KCOM since then.
It was instructive to note the Tigers’ – are we allowed to use that nickname anymore it’s difficult to remember – Tom Huddleston clattering into Francis Coquelin during an aerial challenge, leading to a talking to from referee Mark Clattenburg, and a free kick to Arsenal.
It was an honest attempt to win the header and he had his eyes firmly on the ball at all times. As did Chelsea’s Alonso last week it has to be said. And look what happened there.
All that was forgotten on 33 minutes after the lively – other adjectives are available – Sanchez slotted the ball home from close range after a goalmouth scramble.
The joy from the crowd was as abundant as it can be on a bitterly freezing afternoon the week after your league title hopes have been dashed once and for all.
So cold in fact even Steve Bould donned a bobble hat.
The goal also meant the Chilean has now had involvement in six goals in three Premier League appearances against Hull City – with five goals and one assist.
Clattenburg did consult linesman Jake Collin before confirming the goal. It did appear the opener came off Sanchez’s gloved hand – as vehement Hull appeals by defenders on the line suggested.
No wonder Jakupovic looked so frustrated afterwards as Clattenburg blew for half time and the fans headed for the concourses in their droves – presumably to warm up. What was probably not discussed was the ways in which they could learn from their Tottenham counterparts as devilishly suggested by Wenger this week. .
Niasse forced a good save from Cech six minutes into the second half that was as patchy as the first – enlivened only by a cracking 60 yards crossfield ball from Sanchez that landed on Mesut Ozil’s wand of a left foot. Ozil being Ozil simply cushioned it perfectly onto the onrushing Bellerin.
No matter Bellerin was too eager to progress the move and the momentum, and ball, was lost, it was a microcosm of Arsenal under Wenger. Sublime, stylish movement hugely enjoyable while it lasted – but ultimately you were left unsatisfied with the lack of end product.
With the Gunners wasteful in spasms Hull grew in confidence, perhaps reminded by their progressive young Portuguese manager that he had led his Olympiacos team to a 3-2 victory at this very stadium in the Champions League in September 2015.
It was strange to see Walcott afforded a standing ovation from fans around the press box. It can’t have been for recognition of achieving the figure 100 for Arsenal. As not only is he still stuck on 99 goals for the Gunners his 100 game in which he was substituted for the club came at Chelsea last week.
At least fans didn’t chorus ‘Who’ as they normally reserve that for the opposition changes. And so it was when Ahmed Elmohamady replaced Elabdellaoui moments before.
It surely can’t just be this observer who finds the process not only tedious but ignorant and depressing. Of course those who participate would describe it as having a laugh.
But then Mrs Brown’s Boys is described by some as comedy too.
Another piece of farce was when Clattenburg booked Sanchez for diving on the edge of the area – much to the derision of the crowd. As one wag said the Chilean is far too busy to waste time diving.
As the clock ticked down an increasingly impressive Hull pushed further forward but the Gunners hit a late second after a Hull handball on the line saw Sanchez claim his second of the game to seal the win for Arsenal.
The three points were appreciated by the home and the fans but with Bayern Munich next on the agenda this win will soon be forgotten, even by Sanchez.
Cech, Gibbs, Koscielny, Sanchez, Ozil, Walcott (Elneny), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Lucas), Iwobi (Welbeck), Mustafi, Bellerin, Coquelin
Jakupovic, Robertson, Maguire, Huddlestone (c), N’Diaye, Clucas, Ranocchia, Elabdellaoui (Elmohamady), Grosicki (Evandro), Niasse, Markovic
Referee: Mark Clattenburg