Steve Bruce knows his Hull City side’s recent resurgence will be severely tested by the “remarkable” Arsene Wenger against Arsenal on Monday.
Hull head into the KC Stadium clash on the back of two successive Premier League victories against Crystal Palace and Liverpool, wins that have provided a significant boost in the club’s bid to avoid the drop.
But Hull’s tricky run-in continues with the visit of Arsenal and Wenger, a manager who Bruce has a great deal of admiration for.
Despite such a successful and long spell at Arsenal, some fans continue to call for the Frenchman to be replaced and Bruce thinks such opinions are “astonishing”.
“That’s what I find that quite astonishing [that some fans want Wenger to leave],” said Bruce.
“I think it’s been a main problem for English coaches, the introduction of Arsene Wenger. Seventeen or 18 years is quite remarkable, he’s had input in the stadium – what a stadium that is.
“Top four for however long, three Premier Leagues [titles], FA Cups, the final again, but still people question him.
“I take heart from that. If he gets stick, we can all handle it. How he can get stick is beyond me.”
Hull’s two triumphs had opened up a four-point gap between themselves and the bottom three in the Premier League, but wins for Sunderland and Leicester City on Saturday see Bruce’s men perched just above the drop zone.
With matches against Tottenham and Manchester United still to come in their final three games after the Arsenal clash, Hull’s run-in is tricky.
At the other end of the table, Arsenal are still chasing the possibility of finishing second and head to Hull in fine form.
A 0-0 draw with Chelsea in their last outing extended Arsenal’s unbeaten run to nine league matches. Wenger’s team have not finished as high as second for 10 years, with the 2004-05 campaign being the last season in which they emerged as runners-up.
Arsenal will be buoyed by the fact they have few injuries to contend with, as Mathieu Debuchy (hamstring) appears to be the only player in danger of missing out, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin) could be named among the substitutes.
By contrast, Bruce has a few more fitness problems to take into consideration, with Mohamed Diame (knee), Andrew Robertson (ankle), Nikica Jelavic (knee) and Curtis Davies (thigh) all doubts.
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