Arsenal v Hull City
Wednesday December 4, 2013 2:45 PM ET/11:45 AM PT/7:45 PM GMT
Emirates Stadium, N5, Norf Landahn
ver,TV: Premier League Extra Time, NBC Live Extra (online)
Arsenal welcome newly promoted Hull City to the Emirates Stadium, as the Gunners look to win their third match in a row. Hull are currently 10th with 17 points, having beaten Liverpool last weekend 3-1. Their away record, though, reads a gaudy Pl 6 W 1 D 0 L 5 F 5 A 13, with the sole win coming against Newcastle before Newcastle were playing well. Despite that, though, Arsenal will have to be wary of Hull, who, of course, beat Arsenal 2-1 at the Emirates 5 years ago, and are a well organised defensive unit, though their best centre back, Curtis Davies, is suspended.
James Chester should return from injury, and will be partnered with either Paul McShane or Abdoulaye Faye. Steve Bruce could also deploy his side with a back five, in which case Maynor Figueroa could drop into the centre of defence. In midfield, Hull have a partnership of two former Spurs players in Jake Livermore, who does the running for Tom Huddlestone, who's more of a sit back and play long accurate passes type of midfielder that enables Hull to be dangerous on the counter attack and from set pieces. Hull's big problem, though, is scoring: with 12 goals in 17 games, it's not been an exact strong suit (though they have more goals than Spurs), and Arsenal, with the league's joint best defensive record, should be fairly confident about keeping Hull out.
There will, however, be changes to Arsenal's back four. Bacary Sagna has been ruled out with a hamstring injury, allowing Carl Jenkinson to return to the fold, and Arsene Wenger hinted strongly at resting Kieran Gibbs. With one full back already out, though, he may wait until Sunday's match against Everton. With 4 matches in the next 10 days, there will likely be changes elsewhere: Jack Wilshere will likely get rested as Arsenal remain wary about his ankle, and there could be a full return for Theo Walcott, who could either replace Olivier Giroud, or, far more likely, replace Jack Wilshere.
Wenger has also discussed how he will need to rest Aaron Ramsey, which could mean Mathieu Flamini starts alongside Mikel Arteta. That seems an extremely defensive midfield, though, for a team that will sit numbers deep, and thus, Ramsey will probably start. While it's easy to think that Arsenal can rotate the entire side, it should be remembered that rotating too many players disrupts the flow and movement of the side; it is far better to rotate one or two every match, rather than the entire eleven. Thus, I see Arsenal lining up like this:
Szczesny; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Arteta, Ramsey; Walcott, Rosicky, Cazorla; Giroud
with Mesut Özil, Wilshere and Serge Gnabry giving attacking options off the bench.