Another game, another group of thugs. It may seem harsh to some, but at no point has Hull City played inspiring football. They play direct, and kick the other team like schoolboys. This is going to be another game full of bad tackles, but Arsenal might get lucky this year and not have inept refs as well.
The current squad is depleted from long term injuries and many players are in doubt for this game. RVP, Djourou, Gibbs, and Ramsey (our hearts go out to him) will be non-factors for the rest of this season, and Gallas will in all likeliness need another week to get to full fitness. Fabregas is out, with Campbell, Sagna, and Rosicky all being doubts for the game. Also, Song will be serving his suspension. Without any of these players, the first team pool looks like this:
With the injuries, a few reserves should be brought up to fill the bench. Eastmond, Bartley, and Coquelin seem most likely to be sitting on the sidelines.
And as suggested by Curt B.:
In the backline, the introduction of Silvestre is worrying, but not to the point where I’ll be covering my eyes every time the ball comes down the middle. He’s slow, he’s old, he’s mistake prone, but he can work if Arsenal can win the midfield. This isn’t looking too good either. Song is no long with us, and in his place is Denilson, who seems to have become Wenger’s favorite prospect. He is not the greatest player, but he can get the dirty work done when he puts his mind to it. Diaby should help somewhat, but his want to go forward will leave Denilson alone during many of the passages of play. Nasri will play in his favored role and should be able to create and distribute with at least half the magic he exhibited at the clinic he ran at the Emirates on Tuesday. Regardless if it’s a 4-3-3 or 4-4-2, we should see Bendtner up front, and hopefully he uses the hat trick in midweek as fuel to get a few more. In a 4-3-3, in all likeliness Eduardo and Arshavin will start with Walcott coming off the bench later on as an impact substitute. In a 4-4-2 Walcott and Eduardo will switch roles.
Nasri will be the key to a win, with his distribution setting the tempo. With Fabregas out, it’s Nasri’s day to shine and show what he did at Marseille. He has the skill to influence the game early, but this will only come if Denilson cleans up the midfield and keeps the Hull players from hacking at Nasri.
Even with a depleted squad, this game should be Arsenal’s. Hull, even with their pub football tactics, will have a difficult time to break up the passing game. They will play their hearts out to avoid relegation, but this shouldn’t bother Arsenal enough for Hull to look like a real threat. Expect ten men behind the ball and little chances for both sides in the first half. As long as Hull does not get an early goal, Arsenal should be able to wear them down and start scoring by the second half. A 2-1 final is most likely, but don’t be surprised by a larger margin if Hull break down.
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