Class personified. Arsenal were back at their best against a resilient Hull side in a resounding 4-1 away victory. Arsenal started the game as we’ve come accustom to, controlling possession, creating opportunities, yet wasting them. Alexis Sanchez’ skied effort from a Theo Walcott cross brought back all to familiar memories of last season. Arsenal, determined to make their mark on this Premier League season and show the world they are a completely new proposition took the lead after a first time shot from Alex Iwobi found its course altered by Arsenal’s Chilean Alexis, leaving Arsenal with 1 goal to the good with 17 minutes on the clock. From this point onward Arsenal oozed class, dictating play with ease, with Mustafi and Koscielny being rarely troubled by any attempt of a ball over the top. The one occasion that Hull appeared to threaten following a poorly judged leap from Mustafi, the Gunners had captain Laurent Koscielny to thank for guiding Abel Hernandez wide, leaving the Hull City striker to shoot wide.
Arsenal’s domination throughout the first half seemed destined to not pay dividends, with Mesut Ozil unable to convert from 5 yards into an open Tigers goal. The direction of the game took another turn when Francis Coquelin had his shot saved via the hand of Jake Livermore, who was consequently given his marching orders. Having gone over 100 games without a goal for the Gunners, goals is certainly an aspect of his game the Frenchman needs to improve. especially since Arsene Wenger seems to be deploying him further up the pitch. Whilst Gunners fans fume at the Coquelin-Cazorla partnership being used, there is tactical nous behind it. By pushing Coquelin further up the field, Cazorla is freed up in deeper areas, allowing him to dictate play. This said, the Arsenal fans will hope this partnership is in its beta stages, and that the fully accomplished version will be Xhaka partnered by Ramsey. So, back to the penalty! Arsenal’s usual penalty taker Santi Cazorla was brushed aside by Arsenal’s man in form, Alexis Sanchez. Having missed his only other spot-kick for the club, the Chilean was helping to amend his 0% success rate, however, his efforts were futile, with a poor penalty to Jakupovic’s right, the Hull keeper easily saved. As a result, the Gunners somehow managed to leave the field at half time only one goal to the good.
Arsenal picked up where they left off in the second half, the combination play between Iwobi, Alexis, Walcott and Ozil particularly would have been a source of great satisfaction for the Gunners. Despite all the attacking fluidity Arsenal had, Arsenal’s diminutive Spaniard may count himself lucky to be on the pitch, after a accumulation of fouls whilst on a yellow left him walking on a disciplinary tight rope. Arsenal’s persistence in attack paid off as Theo Walcott doubled Arsenal’s lead on the 55th minute. A sumptuous back-hell from Iwobi was deftly finished off by the Arsenal winger, who celebrated his 100th goal for club and country. After the second goal, Arsenal appeared to play within themselves, with Cazorla at the heart of this. Perhaps the thought of a potential sending off followed him around the pitch. It was no surprise to see the Spaniard substituted on the 67th minute for Swiss international Granit Xhaka. As you’d expect, Xhaka dictated play immediately, dropping deep to receive before effortlessly distributing. Wenger seemed content with what the Gunners and as he sent on Mohamed ElNeny to replace Alex Iwobi. So when Arsenal conceded a penalty just a minute after his introduction after Petr Cech brought Hull substitute Mbokani down, things seemed set for a tense last 15 minutes, after Snodgrass showed Alexis how it’s done.
The men in red and white had other ideas however. On the 83rd minute Alexis played through Walcott who shot straight at Jakupovic, but Alexis was on hand to calmly steady himself with a body feint, before rifling home into the top right corner. Alexis wheeled off in jubilation tapping the Arsenal badge as he celebrated, which will have filled Gunners fans with joy I’m certain.
Granit Xhaka then decided he felt like getting in on the act, scoring what can only be described as an absolute thunderbolt. Picking to ball up 40 yards from goal, the £35 million man drove forward 10 yards before realising a pile-driver of a shot of his mercurial left foot into the top left corner. The Swiss looked a man on a mission, determined to prove the Wenger he should be starting, with his Celebration epitomising that. With healthy competition in the squad, every player on the pitch performed today, as Arsenal saw out the remaining few minutes as they cruised o a comfortable 4-1 victory.
Player Ratings: Cech (6), Bellerin (7), Mustafi (7), Koscielny (7), Monreal (6), Coquelin (7.5), Cazorla (6.5), Walcott (7.5) Ozil (6.5), Iwobi (8), Alexis (8.5 MOTM).
Substitute Ratings: Xhaka (7.5), ElNeny (6), Lucas (N/A)