Mitchell Whiley is an optimistic mood as he looks ahead to the FA Cup clash.
The Jakupovic show a few weeks ago has earned Hull City a replay against Arsenal, but this time it’s on our turf. With both teams not enjoying the greatest run of league form at the moment and the opportunity to host Watford in the fifth round, this should make for an interesting match.
Having played against Barcelona, Manchester United, Swansea City and Tottenham since the last meeting between the Gunners and the Tigers, the London club has only picked up a single point in the latter fixture. In a season where Arsenal have been heavily backed to win the title, it has all been falling apart and Leicester now sit eight points clear of them. Francis Coquelin’s red card in the North London derby will see him miss the match, joining a long list of absentees including Petr Cech, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky. The mind-set of Arsene Wenger will define the line-up for the match. If he believes his side are still in with a shot of the Premier League title, he may opt to rest played such as Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Laurent Koscielny. However if the Premier League title is too far out of reach, he may deploy a full strength squad as the FA Cup may be the last chance of silverware for the club this season.
A win, a draw and a loss against Ipswich Town, Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham City is what Hull City have to show since the previous meeting with Arsenal. Currently third in the Championship and four points behind leaders Burnley (with a game in hand), it’s difficult to see Steve Bruce deploying a full strength side. He has already made mention that Nick Powell and Shaun Maloney will both be starting the match, and after his heroics in the previous cup tie it’s hard to see Eldin Jakupovic losing his spot. Having scored only a single goal in their last five matches, City may opt to play Adama Diomande (as Chuba Akpom is ineligible to play against his parent club) just in front of Powell, as was done in the previous encounter. Sixteen year old Josh Tymon is also likely to gain a starting spot at left back. A strong bench will most likely see the inclusions of Mo Diame and Abel Hernandez at some point during the latter stages if the match is drawn or if the Tigers are behind.
An overall head to head record of fifteen wins for Arsenal compared to three for Hull City is a daunting one, with the inclusion of five draws. The Londoners haven’t gone six matches in all competitions without a win since 1998, so the statistics are well and truly stacked against the black and amber. The previous meeting at the KC Stadium saw Arsenal run out 1-3 winners thanks to a brace from Alexis Sanchez and a goal from Aaron Ramsey, in a match that also saw Stephen Quinn score.
Prediction: Similar to the league cup tie against Swansea, a low scoring match will see the Yorkshire side run out 1-0 winners thanks to a late goal from substitute Mo Diame.