Hull City 0-4 Arsenal: Marching On

Photo: Reuters

This is gonna be a short one - I had to keep half an eye on this as I was doing the corporate-drone thing, so I don't have a huge sense about how this shook out tactically, or who played well over the entire 90. What I do know is that a bit of a makeshift side went into the home of a tough Championship-level out, fought through injury, and did well to book a place into the quarterfinals of the FA Cup.

Both sides rang in the changes - Hull apparently made six, while for us there were starts for Calum Chambers, Kieran Gibbs, Mathieu Flamini, Theo Walcott, and Alex Iwobi.

The first half, as you might expect with so many changes to the team, saw the Arsenal struggle mightily for fluency. Seriously, it was like 40 minutes of watching a hamster run in his wheel - lots of effort and determination, but he's not getting anywhere. That probably does a bit of a disservice to Hull, though. They defended fairly well for a side that was sprinkled liberally with reserves.

As for us, the injury bug hit hard and often. Early in the first half, Per Mertesacker and Nick Powell ferociously clashed heads - a coming-together that resulted in our BFG going to Concussionsville and their lad looking like a UFC fighter who had a bad night. Per tried to stay on, but really, someone should have had a look at him and gotten him off the field much sooner. Sadly, it looks like football still has some lessons to learn about concussion protocol.

Hull, for their part, were mostly content to sit back and hope to catch us on the break. They did end up fashioning one decent attack, foiled by David Ospina's second world-class full-extension save in two games. There you go, Exhibits A and B in the ongoing investigation into 80ish% of Twitter being populated by lobotomized gobshites.

Meanwhile, somewhere along the way, Gabriel came off injured, to be replaced by Aaron Ramsey. Naturally, since this game seemed to be the distilled essence of Peak Arsenal, Ramsey himself had to come off after only 15 or so minutes. My god. Will someone find the voodoo priest sticking pins into a Gunnersaurus doll and tell him to fucking leave off already?

There was always a suspicion that the home side found this tie to be an absolute bother given their team selection and their fight to get promoted into the Premier League just ahead of the new insane TV deal. David Meyler perhaps had that in mind when, in the 41st minute, he sent a ludicrous square ball to no one across the face of his penalty area. It was a bit of a sitter in the end, but all credit to Olivier Giroud for recognizing the opportunity and firing home through the legs of Eldin Jakupovic. The Swiss keeper, for the record, probably could have done better on that. He was the only reason this went to a replay in the first place, but he definitely could have been more decisive and dove at Ollie's feet there. Whatever, no complaints here.

It could have been 2-0 a minute later when Gibbs, of all people, decided to have a lash from 30 yards out. I suspect that Jakupovic's crossbar is still rattling from that one.

Oddly, even when two of our defenders went down, the Tigers never seriously troubled Ospina's net. It didn't help their cause that they barely had any of the ball, but I've seen nursing-home bingo players with more drive and pep. Then again, we made a Champions' League final (Spuds fans, ask a Gooner what that is sometime) with Phil Senderos and Flamini in that back four, so what do I know?

Still, with only a one-goal lead, there was always that small sense of danger lurking in the background until the 71st minute. Walcott, who recovered from an anonymous first half to have a decent game overall, whipped in a cross that was deflected off of one of their guys. No matter, Theo probably deserves a bit of luck after going through such a horrid patch (for the record, I still think we can massively upgrade in the summer...we won't, but still). Giroud was on the end of it, and he fired home with a nice volley.

Game, blouses.

But, there was still 20 minutes left to play, and our guys started to get the party pieces out once the fight drained out of our hosts. Arsene took the piss enough to UNLEASH THE JEFF, the young Reine-Adelaide (who is ace after 3-4 seasons on Football Manager, for the record) replacing Rambo when he went off injured.

Since we were in the business of getting strikers off the schneid, the next order of business was getting Theo on the scoresheet. The goal was really made by an utterly glorious ball from Joel Campbell, who has frankly demolished my low expectations for him in recent weeks. Walcott still had the keeper to beat though, which he did with aplomb. Then, just before the end of normal time, he took a pass from Iwobi and fired on net. It took a deflection, which was enough to wrong-foot the keeper. Works for me.

So, the whole thing was a bit of a good news/bad news situation. We're one highly winnable game against Watford away from a third straight final, and two struggling forwards hit the net twice. On the other hand, we're heading into super-important games with a bit of a ratty back four. I can practically hear the cackles of delight emanating from Catalonia as we speak. Still, this is likely the only silverware that we can win this season, so we may as well go on and do it, yeah?

Man of the Match: It's down to our two-goal men, but Olivier Giroud didn't benefit from deflections, so it's got to be him.