Hull City 0-3 Arsenal: Successful Dress Rehearsal

Much like Tuesday afternoon, Arsenal sputtered out of the blocks with a passionless display of inept passing and non-existent movement. Much like Tuesday afternoon, the Gunners recovered to roar back into the game and overwhelm inferior opponents with some class finishing by Der Hammer.

All in all, it was not a bad way to handle the dress rehearsal for the FA Cup Final on the 17th of May.

Before we start handing out yellow ribbons to our lovely Gooner lasses though, we had the small matter of this league fixture to deal with. The gloom of the last month was lifted some by the return of Mesut Ozil, playing alongside the now match-fit Aaron Ramsey (I have it on good authority that the two of them together are, and I quote, "like peanut butter and jelly").

Naturally, the German playmaking wizard took a while to find his sea legs having been out for so long. Personally, I would have been content for him to just have a quiet, average game and not get hurt again. Foreshadowing: He did a fair bit more than that before the 90 minutes were up.

The men in red struggled mightily in the beginning though, the home side starting well and dominating the first minutes of possession. I half-wonder if it hurt their cause that the advertising hoardings were windswept onto the field five minutes in. I'll tell you, it was some picture to see Santi Cazorla dragging one of them along, especially since it looked twice his size.

Once the home lot got that sorted out, they continued their bombardment of Wojciech Szczesny's net. He did well to claim several crosses, and also ventured well out of his net to sweep up on one occasion. Truth be told, he single-handedly kept us in it until the lads sorted themselves out.

There was a mild penalty shout on the occasion of our first trip into their penalty area, but frankly I think referee Jonathan Moss got it right by waving play on. However, soon after he missed a blatant elbow from one of their lot that sent one of Mikel Arteta's teeth flying. How he missed that, I have no idea...but don't fret, Gooners. His hair was still perfect.

The match picked up a bit after the opening quarter of an hour, with passes starting to find their targets and shots ending up actually on goal. Nikica Jelavic forced Szczesny into a full-extension fingertip save, while Lukas Podolski stung the palms of Steve Harper from distance. 

Hull were still on top though, until Arsenal somehow fashioned a goal utterly against the run of play. Ozil played in Cazorla, who spotted the excellent run of Ramsey. The Welshman's finish was excellent, though Harper may have wanted that one back, having tipped his dive a bit early. That's their problem, was 1-0 to the Arsenal and we couldn't have been more relieved.

How it might have played on Gunner minds though had Nearest and Dearest loanee Jake Livermore's long-range tracer been placed two inches to the right, inside the post instead of off it and out to safety. Instead, the visitors were two goals to the good right before halftime, but unfortunately all you will hear about is the controversial start of it rather than the gorgeous build-up play that created the chance. Again, may I remind you of the elbow that lost Arteta a tooth, which went completely uncalled?

Anyway, Arteta won the ball off of Jelavic, who I thought went down a bit easy. Like last week, Giroud ranged out onto a wing to devastating effect, albeit the right wing this time. Giroud hooked in a beautiful cross to the onrushing Ramsey, who chested it into the path of Podolski. You give Poldi time and space in an area like that, and he will make you pay 9 times out of 10. Sure enough, Harper didn't bother to dive as the German's low shot fizzed into the bottom corner. 2-0 to the Arsenal, and we were largely home and dry at that point.

The home side huffed and puffed a bit after the interval, but the points were wrapped up soon after. Arsenal poured forward with uncharacteristic pace, and Cazorla played in Ramsey with a precision through-ball. Harper did exceptionally well to block with his trailing foot, but the rebound came out to a wide-open Podolski. How the Tigers left him so badly unmarked, I have no idea. He could barely miss though, and placed his shot in the worst possible place for Harper to save, close enough to his body to prevent a dive, but not right at him.

It was largely over at that point, but there were still a fair few noteworthy incidents. Ozil made it through his 60 minutes unfazed, coming off for Mathieu Flamini. Flamini, for his part, somehow avoided getting booked in his half-hour on the pitch. Meanwhile, Giroud almost got his second in two games (which I was about to say would have shut the haters up a bit, but there I go assuming logic and reason where there is none) after Harper dallied on a backpass, but the HFB could only smash a shot against the crossbar.

Eventually, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came on for Giroud, and made a right nuisance of himself to the Hull defense. I imagine he might be worth a start in the big showpiece occasion itself, if he's fit. They barely had an answer for him, and a different (competent) referee may have awarded a penalty late on when he got bundled over in the area. Oh, and Yaya Sanogo made a cameo as well, but all he managed was a total whiff on the one shot he took. Ah well, can't win them all.

Sadly, the David Moyes Comedy Hour continued today, United weakly capitulating at Goodison Park. Still, if we win our games remaining - and given that it is Newcastle (H), West Brom (H), Norwich (A) we bloody well should - it won't matter what they do from now until the end of the season. Our destiny is well and truly in our own hands, and that is a wonderful place to be. 

The Modern Gooner Player Ratings:

Szczesny 8, Monreal 7, Koscielny 7, Mertesacker 7, Sagna 7, Arteta 8, Ramsey 8, Podolski 8 (Sanogo N/A), Ozil 8 (Flamini 7), Cazorla 8, Giroud 7 (Oxlade-Chamberlain 8)

Man of the Match: Szczesny kept us in it early doors, Arteta was fantastic in the middle of the park breaking up attacks, but I think it has to be Der Hammer, Lukas Podolski.