Preview by Numbers: Arsenal v. Hull City

Emirates Stadium, London
Wednesday, December 4
2:45 p.m. EST, 19:45 GMT
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Andre Marriner
    • Assistants: Gary Beswick and Mark Scholes
    • 4th Official: Lee Probert
  • This Match, Last Time: Arsenal 3 - 0 Hull City (December 19, 2009)
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 10 Arsenal wins, 3 Hull City wins, 3 draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: W-W-W-L-W-W
  • Hull City's League Form: L-L-W-L-L-W
  • Weather: Clear, 4 C / 39 F
I'm not going to say much here, as it's a short week. Arsenal are four points clear at the top of the table, having recovered nicely since the gap was just two after the loss at Old Trafford. It should go without saying, though, that these are the kinds of games where you absolutely cannot drop points.

I have plenty to say about Arsenal's upcoming fixtures and Hull's win on Sunday below, so for now, I'll leave this intro with "three points or else!"

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Sagna (hamstring,) Sanogo (back,) Podolski (hamstring,) Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee,) Diaby (knee)

Serge Gnabry attempts to steal some of Aaron
Ramsey's magic at training yesterday.
There's only one injury casualty from Saturday, as Bacary Sagna will miss tonight with a hamstring strain. Carl Jenkinson, who has not looked confident this year, lacking a run of games in the side, appears to be getting a start at right back. You may forget that Jenkinson started the North London derby in the place of Sagna, and that went pretty well. In good news, though, Lukas Podolski will return to full training after tonight, meaning he's "a week" away.

On top of Sagna's absence, the name of the game is "rotation" yet again; this will clearly be a recurring topic as Arsenal are about to play eight times in the space of 29 days, fixture congestion which comes in two distinct sets (four games in 11 days, then eight days off, then four games in 10 days.) Arsene Wenger has to rest some bodies in this match (even if you can't take Hull lightly, their having just beaten Liverpool) since Arsenal play Everton, Napoli, and Manchester City in the space of seven days next week.

Regarding rotation, any number of the following players who did not start against Cardiff could start tonight: Carl Jenkinson, Thomas Vermaelen, Nacho Monreal, Mathieu Flamini, Tomas Rosicky, Theo Walcott, Serge Gnabry, and Ni... oh, really? Do you think Bendtner might start? How about Park?

I've been negligent on my injury lists lately, as I don't normally include those outside of the first team, but I suppose Ryo Miyaichi is technically first team nowadays: he's been out with a hamstring injury.

I'm not going to touch a predicted line-up here; we all know I won't be close.

Hull City Squad News

Out: Quinn (hamstring,) Aluko (Achilles)
Doubts: McShane (hamstring)
Suspended: Davies (accumulation)

Here's the banned Curtis Davies
doing that Michu thing, maybe.
Only two Hull players have started all 13 league games up to this point; one is center back Curtis Davies, whose starting streak will come to an end tonight as he serves a one match ban for yellow card accumulation. His booking against Liverpool was a fairly harsh yellow, but I'll certainly take it, because this is a huge absence for the Tigers.

Davies's absence is even worse news for Hull considering they tend to play with just three at the back, in front of Scottish international Allan McGregor in goal. The first choice to replace Davies might be Paul McShane, who picked up a hamstring injury against Crystal Palace a week and a half ago, and faces a late fitness test. He'd likely play alongside Alex Bruce and Maynor Figueroa in the back line. If McShane misses out, Hull have a few other options in defense, such as Liam Rosenior, James Chester, and Abdoulaye Faye.

Ahead of the back three, Hull play with five across the midfield, which actually means a seemingly attack oriented 3-5-1-1 is actually quite a conservative formation if the wingers get up and down the pitch. Of course, when Southampton hit Hull hard in the first half a few weeks ago, Steve Bruce was forced to resort to four at the back after halftime. If Hull go with four at the back, it's Ahmed Elmohamady who will drop back.

Stephen Quinn is out until the end of the month with a hamstring injury; Sone Aluko is out until the new year with an Achilles injury.

Predicted XI: McGregor, McShane, Bruce, Figueroa, Elmohamady, Huddlestone, Livermore, Meyler, Brady, Koren, Sagbo.

Current Form

Hull have far exceeded expectation this season and their
3-1 win over Liverpool pushed them into the top half of the
Since their opening day anomaly against Aston Villa, Arsenal have won five straight Premier League games at the Emirates Stadium; a welcome sight for a team that won just 11 of 19 home games last year, dropping 19 points at the Emirates. They dropped 17 points at the Emirates the year before that as well. If Arsenal want to remain at the top of the table, they have got to win their home games. As it stands, the Gunners own a four point lead over second place Chelsea and a six point lead over third place Manchester City. Their lead is seven over Liverpool and Everton, eight over Newcastle, nine over Southampton and Manchester United, and ten over Tottenham Hotspur, who are in ninth place.

In tenth place is Hull City, though there is a four point gap between them and Spurs. Hull, however, have been dreadful on their travels, winning only at Newcastle in September (before Newcastle figured it out and climbed from 16th to 6th.) Astonishingly, all of Hull's road games have come against the nine teams above them; they have yet to travel to face a team behind them in the table. Hull have lost 2-0 at Chelsea, 2-0 at Manchester City, 2-1 at Everton, 4-1 at Southampton, and 1-0 at Tottenham. Hull will, of course, be buoyed by a comprehensive defeat of Liverpool 3-1 at the KC Stadium on Sunday.

Match Facts

Arsenal's rivalry with Hull got pretty heated in Hull's last
go around in the league, but most of the antagonists are
long gone, including stampy Samir Nasri.
During Hull City's last run in the Premier League, they developed a bit of a rivalry with Arsenal, one which died when Phil Brown was sacked and Hull were relegated. Hull earned promotion to the top flight for the first time in club history for the 2008/09 season and their first giant killing in the league came at the Emirates, 2-1. Arsenal needed two late goals to win the reverse fixture 3-1 that season. The two sides later met again in the FA Cup, when again Arsenal needed late goals to advance, but further drama came when Phil Brown and his staff accused Cesc Fabregas of spitting at Hull assistant coach, Brian Horton, during the pre-match warm-ups. The FA later examined the situation and concluded that no such thing had happened.

In 2009/10, Arsenal beat Hull 3-0 at the Emirates, with controversy abound yet again: a 21-player fight started when Samir Nasri stamped on midfielder Richard Garcia; Nasri was not retroactively banned after the referee reviewed the video footage at a later date. Both clubs were fined for "failure to control their players." Arsenal won the reverse fixture 2-1 thanks to an injury time strike from Nicklas Bendtner; Phil Brown was sacked the following Monday and Hull were relegated later that season.

Aside from two League Cup meetings, one in the '70s and one in the '80s, from which Arsenal advanced, the Gunners and Tigers had not played each other since before World War II.

The Referee

I might only exclusively use this image of Mr. Marriner
from now on.
The referee is West Midlands-based Andre Marriner. It's funny, it's already December, Arsenal have played 15 domestic matches (13 league and 2 League Cup,) and this is the first time they will have Marriner this season. Last year, Arsenal saw Marriner only twice (and the first time was in January, so that's actually a recurring thing;) the Gunners won both matches, 5-1 over West Ham and 1-0 over Fulham (in which each side had a man sent off.)

Hull City have seen Marriner once already this season and in that match, two Sunderland players were sent off. Hull did win the match 1-0 but only through Carlos Cuellar's own goal, which came before either of the red cards. Hull had 70% of the possession in that match, but Sunderland's 10-men, plus substitute goalkeeper Vito Mannone, kept Hull off the scoreboard the rest of the way.

Marriner has shown five red cards this season, more than any other Select Group referee.

Around the League
  • Tuesday: Crystal Palace 1 - 0 West Ham United
  • Wednesday: Liverpool v. Norwich City; Anfield, Liverpool
  • Wednesday: Manchester United v. Everton; Old Trafford, Manchester
  • Wednesday: Southampton v. Aston Villa; St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton
  • Wednesday: Stoke City v. Cardiff City; Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent
  • Wednesday: Sunderland v. Chelsea; Stadium of Light, Sunderland
  • Wednesday: Swansea City v. Newcastle United; Liberty Stadium, Swansea
  • Wednesday: Fulham v. Tottenham Hotspur; Craven Cottage, London
  • Wednesday: West Bromwich Albion v. Manchester City; The Hawthorns, West Bromwich