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Walcott shines as Arsenal start getting back to their best

hull versus arsenal match report match review premier league 2016

Match Review: Hull 1 Arsenal 4 - Premier League 17.09.16

Are Arsenal starting to find their feet? Saturday's performance was a lot more like what we've been waiting for, a number of goals and a much more dominant showing than we've been able to produce so far. It still wasn't quite perfect, but with a big game against Chelsea coming up, there are encouraging signs.

Again, Wenger persisted with Alexis up front and Coquelin in favour of Xhaka. Perez was on the bench, but Giroud dropped out of the squad all together. Alex Iwobi started instead of Chamberlain and Cech returned in goal with the back four remaining the same.

There was some criticism of the line up and you can understand why, as the trial of Alexis up front and leaving out Xhaka has proved to have limited effectiveness. However, things looked different from the off this time. There was a bit more zip to our passing and I think it was partly down to Coquelin showing a little more willingness to be involved with the passing game. He's been accused of hiding and being positionally poor, but this week he seemed to be involved a bit more and it certainly helped us control the midfield.

We were knocking on the door from the off and after Alexis missed a good chance and Özil skied a sitter, Sanchez was the one to finally break the deadlock. The chance initially came from a Walcott cross/shot, Jakupovic parried it away, but Iwobi was on hand to smash the ball back at goal. It first looked like it would be Iwobi's goal, but the replays showed that Alexis had got a slight touch to lift the ball into the net.

One should have been two before half time, as Coquelin made a telling contribution and Jake Livermore gave into his inner Sp*rsy ways. Hull failed to clear and eventually the ball fell to Coquelin to strike at goal, it was a clean strike too and Livermore decided to turn goalkeeper and used his arm to deflect the ball away. The penalty was awarded and Livermore was dismissed, which was an interesting decision, as I thought the instant dismissal rule for preventing a goalscoring opportunity had gone. What was even more perplexing was that Alexis stepped up to take the penalty and not Santi, and having missed his only other penalty attempt for us, Sanchez failed to convert again. The penalty was poorly placed and Jakupovic got down to push it away.

Alexis is a wonderful player, but this is one thing that annoys me about him. He is incredibly driven by personal goals, rather than team ones and I'm sure he claimed the penalty to set himself up for a hat trick. Sometimes his hunger for personal glory on the field works out great for us, but this was one of the occasions where he needed to take a step back and toe the line. Wenger said after the game that he too was surprised by Alexis taking the penalty and rather ominously 'I need to make sure it doesn't happen again'. I imagine Alexis is in for a stern word and a move down the spot kick pecking order.

With Hull down to ten men, we were always going to dominate the ball. However, at one nil, we were always vulnerable to, well, being Arsenal. The breathing room was provided by an excellently worked goal that I'm sure Wenger will have enjoyed immensely. It was all down to Walcott and Iwobi's combination, with Walcott having drifted in off the right wing and Iwobi having swapped with Özil and ended up in a central position. Cazorla fed Walcott, who played a delicious one-two with Iwobi. The youngster turned and rolled a delicious back heel in behind the defence and Walcott provided a lovely chipped finish. Some Hull defender with a gigantic head and the coordination of a baby giraffe ended up heading the ball in, but as the ball was on target already, I believe Walcott gets the goal.

Both Walcott and Iwobi were very impressive and Theo in particular really appears to have woken up at the start of the season. He's come in for a lot of criticism, mostly warranted, over the last year and he wasn't putting in the performances he needed to to keep his place in the team. But it seems he's worked hard over the summer and let go of the pipe dream of becoming a striker. I really hope it continues, as a fit and on form Walcott is one of the best wingers in the league and it would be a real boost to see him firing again.

Unfortunately, we still seem to have a massive brain fart in us at any given moment. The defence went to sleep a bit and out of nothing, Sp*rs reject Ryan Mason released Mbokani in behind and Cech brought him down to give Hull a penalty. Robert Snodgrass took it and sent Cech the wrong way to give Hull a lifeline.

It was the one blip in what had been a great performance up until then. Though it was very annoying and slightly worrying to see us concede in the way we did, we did respond in the perfect way, with Theo Walcott making another telling contribution. He raced in behind the Hull back line, holding off a defender on the way and when his effort was saved, Alexis made up for his penalty miss by smashing the ball into the roof of the net.

There was just enough time for substitute Granit Xhaka to get his first goal for the club and my goodness what a goal it was. Hull were going through the motions and Xhaka took advantage of their lack of pressure, taking a few touches in midfield before setting himself to thunder a 35 yard rocket in to the top corner. I don't think he'll forget that strike any time soon!

We're halfway through this testing couple of weeks and it's so far so good. The draw in Paris was an excellent result off an average performance and this 4-1 win over Hull was exactly what we needed, a convincing win and team performance. The annoyance of the rebranded EFL Cup comes next with a trip to Nottingham Forest. I can't see Wenger changing his policy of playing fringe/youth players, especially with Chelsea at home next and I think that game will be the real focus.

We haven't beaten Chelsea in the league for a long time and whilst they're stronger than last year, they still look like they're vulnerable. It's a chance to show our title ambitions and deal a hated rival a blow with their's. Fingers crossed the upward trend in performances continues and we can launch our title challenge on Saturday.

theo walcott scores 100th career goal as arsenal beat hull 4-1

Teams

Hull City (4-4-1-1)

Jakupovic, Elmohamady, Livermore (R), Davies, Robertson, Huddlestone (Mason 58’), Clucas, Meyler, Snodgrass, Diomande (Maguire 42’), Hernandez (Mbokani 77’)
Subs
Maguire, Maloney, Mbokani, Keane, Henrikson, Marshall, Mason

Arsenal (4-2-3-1)

Cech (Y), Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla (Y) (Xhaka 67’), Walcott (Lucas 88’), Özil, Iwobi (Elneny 77’), Alexis
Subs
Ospina, Gibbs, Holding, Lucas, Xhaka, Elneny, Chamberlain

Player Ratings

Cech - 6/10 - Had nothing much to do, but gave away the penalty
Bellerin - 7/10 - Up and down the flank all day
Koscielny - 7/10 - Bar one terrible pass, he was solid
Mustafi - 7/10 - Another solid showing, clearly has Wenger’s trust
Monreal - 7/10 - Back to his solid self after a shaky performance in Paris
Coquelin - 7/10 - Much more involved in the game and helped win the penalty
Cazorla - 7/10 - Good on the ball but nearly got himself in hot water with the ref
Iwobi - 8/10 - Clearly very talented and ready for the first team
Özil - 7/10 - Fairly quiet but still did all the right things
Walcott - 8/10 - A threat all day down the right and scored his 100th career goal
Alexis - 8/10 - Needs a slap for the penalty, but he caused Hull a ton of problems
Subs
Xhaka - 8/10 - What a hit, what a first goal and what a player we seem to have
Elneny - N/A
Lucas - N/A

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Tags: Walcott, Iwobi, Hull vs Arsenal

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