FA Cup 5th Round: Arsenal-Hull City. Match Preview, Predicted Line-up. Hero Welbeck to Lead Us Onto the Pitch?

Arsenal continue our pursuit of a third consecutive FA Cup with another home tie, this time against a foe we’ve seen in each of the past two seasons: Hull City FC.  Is it third time the charm for the Tigers or just another end to the dream at Arsenal?

Two years ago, of course, it was a full-fledged glory Hull were dreaming of.  That was in the final at Wembley and, having staked themselves to an early two goal lead, the Tigers had every right to believe they might take down the bigger club and lift the cup.  Arsenal fought back and goals from Santi Cazorla and Laurent Koscielny forced extra time.  In the additional half hour Aaron Ramsey rolled in the winner and Arsenal, for the first time in a decade, were finally able to lift a trophy.

A year ago, the finalists met in the 3rd round, a much different scenario.  Hull manager Steve Bruce could see the writing on the wall and the fact that his team was in the midst of a relegation battle which would require their full attention and even more changes for his group than ours.  Hull didn’t put up much resistance.  A goal by Per Mertesacker on twenty minutes and one by Alexis Sanchez much nearer the end of the match were the only goals but the 2-nil scoreline probably flattered the visitors.

What should we expect this time around?

Both managers will want to advance, but not at all costs.  Arsenal play in the Champions League eliminations vs defending champions Barcelona on Tuesday evening and will need to be fresh and ready for that one.  Hull City are leading the Championship but are only three points clear of 3rd place Brighton and the playoff spots.  As much as we’d like to believe in the romance of the cup, those other priorities will be in the minds of the men in charge.

As such, Arsene Wenger, I think, we’ll put out a team substantially changed from the one which gave a huge effort and came back to beat Premier League leaders, Leicester City, on Sunday.  He’s a bit short of defenders, having had to replace Koscielny at half-time with Callum Chambers, Gabriel Paulista still recovering from a training ground injury and having no real cover for right back Hector Bellerin beyond Chambers.  Kieran Gibbs–a hero in his own right from the Wembley final, having headed off the line what would have been Hull’s third early goal–probably comes in for Nacho Monreal on the left.  Bellerin most likely has to go on the right with Chambers and Mertesacker as our center backs ahead of David Ospina in goal.

In midfield, Wenger has indicated that Mohamed Elneny will play and could start.  Will he pair up with Francis Coquelin or Mathieu Flamini at the rear of midfield?  Could Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain be shifted back into one of those roles?  Further up, will Alex Iwobi get another go in Mesut Ozil’s attacking midfield spot?  Does the Ox start on the right or does Joel Campbell come back in?  What about Theo Walcott who looked very smart scoring vs Leicester as a sub on that side?

Walcott’s inclusion could also come up top in the #9 role, or does that one go to the other scorer, the last-minute hero from Sunday’s encounter, Danny Welbeck?  Is Welbeck, after ten months out due to injury, fit enough to fill in for Olivier Giroud from the opening kick-off?  It’s also possible that Walcott could be saved to play that role against Barcelona.

What about Alexis?  Does the former Barcelona player need more time to find his shooting boots or would it be better to keep him champing at the bit before he plays against the club which sold him?

I suspect Wenger will play him for the first hour in this one and will encourage him to be a leader in getting the team off on the front foot.  The last thing we need, after all, is a draw and a replay up in Hull.  Here then is my best guess at Wenger’s starters and the subs who will suit up:

Subs: Macey, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Giroud

Hull should not be seen as any sort of pushover and Bruce could use this match as a challenge for his players.  Which of them have what it takes to get his club back to the Premier League?  Most likely he’ll use a combination of those with experience, including former Spurs Tom Huddlestone, Jake Livermore and Michael Dawson, along with a few younger players who might provide the spark for the run-in.

Mohammed Diame is another experienced player to beware.  The physically imposing Frenchman (who plays his international football for Senegal) is one whom many Gooners wanted to (finally) fill Patrick Vieira’s shoes as our marauding defensive midfielder.  He also scored against us on our pitch in a league match less than a year and a half ago.  So too did Uruguayan forward Abel Hernandez slipped free from Mertesacker and headed home a cross from our left side.

In that one we came back to eke out a very late draw, Alexis putting in guess who: Danny Welbeck.  Gooners would be far happier to settle this match early on rather given our big fight in the league and the huge challenge of playing Barcelona in the CL.  Can we do it and continue on to the quarterfinals?  How would you have Wenger rotate for this one?  Please share…

Go on then…

by 17highburyterrace



24 thoughts on “FA Cup 5th Round: Arsenal-Hull City. Match Preview, Predicted Line-up. Hero Welbeck to Lead Us Onto the Pitch?

  • Nice write up 17ht. Apparently it’s an ambush of Tigers. Hopefully we will ambush them. Picking the team for games like this is very difficult. I would think that Flamini would start ahead of Coquelin. I would start Theo up front with a view to replacing him with Welbeck just after half time. Theo will I think be more ready for Barca than Danny. Alexis is a tough one, but
    I think I agree he needs game time . So my starting X1


    Balleri. Per. chambers. Gibbs

    Flamini. Elneny

    Campbell. Iwobi. Alexis


  • Evening HT. Its dangerous to bet against you on the selection front – you pretty much always nail it! But I’m going with the retsub selection here.

    My assumption is Coq is back as first choice for Barca and might be given time from the bench to help his fitness recover; but I can’t see why we would want him to play for long given what’ coming next week. Flamini is also rested and would provide a good experienced and talkative cover for Elneny to play alongside. And I could see Flam move to right back after half time to give Bellerin a rest. All assuming the game is going smoothly in our favour!

    Theo, despite scoring last week, is still our second choice striker; so he should get a run out up front for me. And if he scores a hatfull and makes a case to start against Barca, then who could complain!? I hope Danny gets a decent run out too, but I’m not sure about a start – I would not be surprised at all to see him injure something if he played for much more than 45 tomorrow. I hope I’m being pessimistic there, but I’d ease him back in. Wenger wasn’t even going to have him on the bench last weekend after all, so can he really be ready to start?

    Does Danny come on for Theo or Campbell later on? Don’t mind, could be either, or even yet for Sanchez who we won’t want to play for 90 min.

    Final selection thought. We have neither Ozil nor Rambo on the bench for this game. That feels a bit exposed to me. I would have Rambo on the bench should we need him. But wtfdik.

    I don’t expect this to be an easy game at all. Yes Hull will be focussed more on the league. But they are a side high on confidence and form and will want to show they belong in the PL. They will also be accustomed to a more physical approach which often throws us off our stride. So I’m all for an experienced, physical and committed selection as anything less feels a bit risky to me.

  • Nice intro, 17. Like your memory regarding the previous encounters.

    At this point of the season, we are in the title race and still alive in CL. Big matches against Barcelona and United are right behind the corner so Arsene may need to decide whether he has enough eggs to fill all the baskets. If we had Gabby, Jack and Santi available, I would be more calm about the fixture congestion.

    Our game against Hull is pretty much the only one in the next two weeks where Arsene will have a chance to shuffle the cards.

    Can Flamini start on the right full-back position? That would allow Chambers to move to the middle next to Per. Gibbs to start on the left. Arteta and Elneny in the middle, Campbell, Iwobi and Ox to support Danny.

    Now, Danny… I don’t expect him to be unplayable as he’ll need a lot of time to shake off the rustiness. That beauty of his against Leicester will mean a lot for his confidence but let’s not get carried away. Patience will be the key.

    2:0, with goals from Campbell and Elneny.

  • Good shout on Arteta there Admir. Might be attractive to Wenger that one. Feels a rather shaky spine though for me perhaps?

  • Hey fellas, thanks for the comments… My guess is as good as anybody’s (at the line-up, as per usual)… I like the idea of Flamini out there at RB if Bellerin needs a day off… I only went with Le Coq and Alexis (and Welbeck) under the logic of “need more match time to find full fitness…” Both Ramsey and Ozil were left out of the matchday squad vs Burnley, hence those calls once again…

    TA and I are both on the road this weekend and the kick off is brutally early (again) for me…so, I’m pretty sure there will be no attempt at a live-blog andnly a delayed match report, if one materializes at all… Apologies… Normal service hopefully returns shortly…

    Anyhow, Enjoy the match, Up the Arse, COYG, etc., etc., etc…

  • On my way home from the Emirates…

    Not a game that will live long in the memory.

    The Hull fans have had a difficult time vs Arsenal over the last few seasons, so you couldn’t really begrudge them their celebrations at the end, almost as if they’d won…
    But we’re still ‘in the hat’ and I’m fairly confident that we’ll finish the job at their place.

  • Yes it wasn’t an epic. One of those games when we needed a little luck.. Apparently that is the most saves made by an opposing keeper this season. Thought Welbeck had a decent game, but I struggled to single out any other good performances, Iwobi maybe and Chambers without being great, seems to have got some confidence back. As you say Kev, we can’t begrudge them, their keeper played a blinder and they gave their all, even if it did resemble a large double decker red thing.

  • Yeah Retsub, their goalkeeper had a very good game, the save from Campbell was fingertips onto the post…
    There was word going around, via mobile messages from those watching on TV, during the game, that we should have had a penalty in the 1st half, no sure about that, but that’s the break we needed…
    Agree about Chambers, I thought he did well, and Iwobi as you say is coming along nicely.
    Also agree with you on Welbeck.
    Thought Koscielny had a good game as well
    First time I’d seen Elneny, a work in progress, needs to bulk up maybe a la Ozil, but looked tidy and good in the air…

  • Yep there was a pen that never happened, but you could put up an argument that Kos should have got a red. Not sure how the crowd reacted to Dean, but had he sent Kos off I suspect he would have been lynched by the crowd.

  • Guys,

    Havent watched the game, but we have to be more proficient in scoring against teams with good defenders.

    Many times this season and the last i have seen teams drawing 0-0 or winning against us with that tactic.

    I do not see Barca doing that against us, which will suit us nicely if they gave us ample space to do our stuff if we have possession of the ball.

    We might do a Leicester and counter with Theo up front, or we might do a Man*** and implode.

    Hopefully its the former, not the latter.

    Cheers for Tuesday,

  • Frustrating game by the sounds of it. All us but no end product. We have seen it before sadly. But we should not forget that this was not our 1st team, it was largely reserves and people coming back to fitness, so doom conclusions are premature. More positives than not for me. But another game, and away at that, is certainly not what we needed now.

  • So, not much to say about that one…

    Two heavily changed teams and ours couldn’t break down their parked bus and Mike Dean waving a couple of pen shouts off. I watched on a poor TV at an hour that found me exceptionally groggy… I will say that the movement of the match kept me awake along with the hope that we might break through. The stadium atmosphere seemed exceptionally muted but maybe that was just me trying not to wake anybody up… Maybe it was just a much less exciting occasion than the Leicester City match and what we anticipate for Tuesday vs Barca…

    I’m not overly concerned about the extra match and actually think getting into a bit of a rhythm of playing twice per week could be a good thing. We’ve got 20 fit players and we’ll need almost all of them at some point so getting a more fluid mix-and-match element might be just what the doctor ordered.

    More worrying, of course, is the lack of scoring. I think the tactics were off given Hull’s contentment to sit back. Once such a strategy is recognized we need to move away from the inverted wingers and Theo as the CF and maybe try Campbell on the left, Theo on the right and DW in the middle with that extra inch of hair as the target for some crosses. If you can’t lure the parked bus forward stretching it out wide seems necessary. Otherwise, the attack gets very narrow very quickly.

    Overall, I’m not too down on our guys. Elneny looks bright and like he can run all day, Iwobi infinitely better than when I saw him as a winger up at Sheffield Wednesday and Chambers continues to impress. His pen looked quite well won, IMO. Welbeck didn’t tire although he was getting stuck doing the very predictable patented Alexis right foot and shoot shuffle… If anything, the younger guys were maybe passing the ball with too much pace given the quick pitch and defenders consistently backing off…By the time the subs came on, Hull were deep into their shell and we maybe tried to do too much too directly. We probably need a real #10 (who can work in very tight spaces) to make things click. Ozil, Santi, Jack or (even) Rambo might be needed in there for the replay.

    All told it’s disappointing and Wenger’s worry that we’ll not be likely to have so much possession in our next couple of matches (vs Barca and at ManU and Spurs…Swansea at home is in there too…) so we’ll need to finish our (fewer) chances, rings true for me. A little more space on the break, more use of the width of the pitch (crossing, etc.) and, fingers crossed, we get a enough…

    Not a lot upon which to hang one’s hopes, but so it goes…

  • They just showed stats on the T V showing the maximum possible games the top four have allowing for replays etc. It doesn’t make good reading

    Arsenal. 24
    Spurs. 20
    city. 20
    Leicester. 12

  • I dunno, retsub, I say more games = more fun… 😀

    Of course, just as Spurs and City have gone out of the FA Cup, the smart money MUST be on Arsenal going out of the CL, which represents 7 potential matches for both us and City… Spurs have 8 (potential) Europa league matches… City also have the league cup final…

    You’re not suggesting that we should purposely lose these cup matches, are you?…

    IMO, there’s not a ton (tonne?…) of downside to the extra matches and they represent chances to go deeper into the squad. The more guys like Elneny, Chambers, Gibbs, Flamini, Iwobi, Campbell, Welbeck, Ospina, etc., play (in successful) cup outings the more confident I’ll feel if they have to come in for spells in the league… We didn’t win yesterday but we certainly dominated the match and the squad guys (I thought) did pretty well AND we got complete rests for Ramsey, Ozil, Coquelin and Cech. If anything, some our main guys (Alexis, Giroud, Theo) look like they need more play (at full match pace and challenge) to sharpen their games. Sometime sitting around = rested, true, but also untested…

    Just my take on things, as always, of course…

  • 17ht. I would never condone losing a match. It just concerns me how many games we potentially have compared to Leicester. That said if we lose 3 nil st home to Barca next week, I would be happy to pick some players from this blog to travel to Spain 🙈

  • Leicester have the thin (but very good…) squad and will have some long waits for games and then some quick turnarounds… There’s a midweek league match in 9 or 10 days, i.e., directly after next weekend’s round, for example. My hope is that our squad depth can work to our advantage there too…

    I dunno, at some point we just have to get the results and not get too worried about this stuff (IMO)… We’ve got 20 healthy players and our biggest stars have had some good time off and should be ready to go…

    We just need them to play better, have a bit of luck, etc., etc., etc… 😀

  • 17ht. I think your last sentence pretty much summed things up. We have done really well recently to get the momentum going again after the recent slump, but we are some distance from the top of our game and lacking in goals recently. Hard to explain why, but we do not seem to have our shooting boots on at the moment. Alexis in particular is having a rough patch, although he certainly is working hard at it.

    Hopefully as you say the rest will do them good, because it’s full on again next week. As you say it’s great having a big squad, but when it comes to the big games coming up we will need all our top notch employees

  • I think we miss Santi… 😀

    Tight spaces and quick touches with occasional ability to change the angle of attack…

    Others can do it too–Ozil, Jack, Rambo, Alexis, Giroud…but none like little Santi, IMO, of course…

  • You may well be right about Santi, he certainly adds something to the team and I suspect win ration stats with him in the side this season will bear that out.

  • We miss both Santi and Ozil in the last game. Ozil is a good dead ball kicker, on a similar level of Beckham and David Silva.

    Santi brings chances from the deep.

    Let’s hope Alexis play better against his former club


  • Hey BKers

    Nice comments, and a fine preview by 17HT. Only saw three minutes of highlights so cannot comment much on the game. Glad we are still in this competition and I cannot believe we have another home draw.

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