Arsenal needed a swift return to winning ways after successive defeats in the top flight left them 12 points behind the Premier League leaders Chelsea and they got it on Saturday afternoon against Hull City.
The Tigers were somewhat unfortunate to perform another stunt following their great win over Liverpool and here are the five things we learned from the match at the Emirates:
Sanchez goes top in uncomfortable afternoon for Arsenal
Three points wrapped up and a win under their belt, but Arsenal should not be too happy with their performance against Hull. Industrious Alexis Sanchez as Arsenal’s savior at the Emirates bagged a brace to go top of the Premier League Goalscorer list with 17 goals to his name thus far.
The Chilean was arguably the only bright spot in otherwise bleak display from Arsene Wenger’s man.
Sanchez used the chaos inside the penalty box in the first half to push the ball in the back of the net with his hand in the end, while he secured the three points for his team in the closing stages from the penalty spot and from a shot Hull goalkeeper Jakupovic nearly stopped.
Arsenal lack aggression
Victory is all that counts and three points under the belt are the most important things for under-pressure Arsenal, but the North London club still has plenty of improvement to do ahead of the crucial period of the season.
One aspect of their game which ended up costing them dearly in the 3-1 defeat by Chelsea last time out came to the surface once again against Hull City. Arsenal lack aggression on their own half.
The Gunners were vibrant in attack. They attempted to break Hull defences from a number of positions and in a number of different ways, but ended up being exposed each time Hull City broke upfront.
With their players standing too far away from the Hull players, Arsenal displayed a worrying lack of defensive pressure which is one aspect of the game Arsene Wenger will need to improve as soon as possible.
Midfield remains Wenger’s big problem
The Frenchman is known as a manager who revolutionized the way Arsenal play and impacted the game in general with his possession play for which he needs strong and creative midfield.
However, the running season turned out to be quite problematic in that regard with Arsene Wenger struggling to find the right combination in the middle of the pitch.
Injuries played their part to be honest as Santi Cazorla in the first place remains out of the squad and as Granit Xhaka is struggling to gain his footing on the Premier League with his reckless behavior and reported off-field antics.
Fielding Oxlade-Chamberlain as a holding midfielder is a forced choice given the lack of options and Arsenal can count themselves lucky to certain extent that Hull City failed to exploit Arsenal’s midfield deficiencies and the abundance of space they were given in the centre of the park.
Hull improved by January signings
They might have lost the match at the Emirates, but Hull City did show notable improvement to the first half of the season which will have January signings to thank for.
The goalless draw at Manchester United offered plenty of evidence to support the claim, whereas the 2-0 win over Liverpool is a definite proof that Marco da Silva has got a firm grip on his job and that he is well aware what needs to be done for his team to remain in the Premier League.
The Saturday’s loss to Arsenal, although disappointing, can bring a certain dose of reassurance for the Tigers who gained an edge with a couple of their January arrivals. Wingers Kamil Grosicki and Lazar Markovic brought width in Hull’s play, whereas Andrea Ranocchia and Omar Elabdellaoui offer stability and composure at the back.
Da Silva’s men are long way off from being in the safe, but if all pieces of the puzzle come together in a timely fashion, Tigers might be the ones who will go to avoid the drop from the Premier League this season.
Lazar Markovic out to send message to Jurgen Klopp
The Gemran tactician seems to be not too keen on his Liverpool outcast Lazar Markovic, but the Serbian international must be given huge credit for his performance against Arsenal and his will to prove Klopp wrong.
He was composed throughout the proceedings today, made a lot of great runs on the right-hand side of the pitch and put in dangerous crosses towards Hull forward Niasse. Markovic used the game against Arsenal to display a fine array of skill and talent which got doubted at Anfield during Brendan Rodger’s era.
The Serbian missed a chance to remain in the Premier League from the first moment he was told he should go on loan out of Liverpool and a Hull City spell could be highly beneficial for the Liverpool winger after stints in Turkey and Portugal did not yield positive results on Markovic’s chances of getting back in the Liverpool side.
ARSENAL: Cech 6 – Bellerin 7, Mustafi 7, Koscielny 7, Gibbs 6.5 – Oxlade-Chamberlain 7 (Perez 6), Coquelin 6.5 – Walcott 6.5 (Elneny 6), Ozil 7, Iwobi 6.5 (Welbeck 6) – Sanchez 7.5.
Unused subs: Giroud, Monreal, Ospina, Gabriel.
HULL CITY: Jakupovic 6.5 – Elabdellaoui 6.5 (Elmohamady 6), Ranocchia 7, Marguire 6.5, Robertson 6 – Huddlestone 6.5 (Diomande 6), N’Diaye 6.5 – Markovic 7, Grosicki 7 (Evandro 6), Clucas 5 – Niasse 7.
Unused subs: Maloney, Marshall, Meyler, Tymon.
REFEREE: Mark Clattenburg
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