Ten Thoughts: Arsenal 2-0 Hull City

If any of this comes off as incoherent or incomplete, well, please grade me on a curve today.

As it turned out, I tried to stay up, fell asleep at 7, and was bailed out by my backup 12:30 alarm. I did manage to avoid spoilers, though!

1. Let's be real, here. A lot of people are going to say "Well, it's just Hull". This is silly. The Tigers have been on a roll since Marco Silva pitched up sticks there, and frankly they tore us apart at times. Given our struggles of late, and their new arrivals playing well for the new manager (new broom syndrome in full effect), this is a win I'll take all day, and you should too.

The thing is, I don't think we played all that badly...at least not through the first two-thirds of the field. Hull never got that many clear chances on goal, and despite a more even possession distribution than you may have expected, there were good performances in our midfield as well.

2. The final third, though...aye yai yai. Honestly, a lot of this is down to the ongoing disappearance of Mesut Ozil...again. I don't say that to pile on, or to intimate anything stupid like he should be sold or anything like that. He is and remains a superlative player, but even the best go through patches like this. Believe it or not, it can simultaneously be true that he's one of the best in the world at what he does, and also that he's playing like absolute butt at present.

That said, there were some encouraging flashes at certain points, though. There was one flying scissor-volley thing that few others would even try (Kevin Kilbane was the color commentator on NBCSN, and he hilariously tried to say that Ozil should have done better there - mate, I SAW your career, you couldn't have done that with a stepladder and two weeks' notice...the "Zinedine Kilbane" thing was ironic, you know. Prannet).

Also. there were instances where you could tell that he had picked out the right pass, but it just wasn't coming off for him. I photoshopped him onto the milk carton last week for my own amusement, but he'll get back to his old self soon, I'm sure. Bayern at midweek would be a brilliant time to do it, brotha.

3. The elephant in the room here, of course, is that this was a match of two handball decisions. Our first goal came off of a madcap scramble in the penalty area, the second or third of those in the first half alone. We continued to have guys holding on to the ball too long, looking for the perfect pass, looking for the perfect shot, etc.

As far as good news/bad news goes, the positive is that Alexis Sanchez showed his predatory instincts once again. He's reverted to some of his worst tendencies in this bad run of ours - the annoying heroball "I'll take you all on!" routine, dropping several postal codes backwards to look for the ball, thus taking away our central attacking outlet, etc.

However, all of that is counter-balanced by the intelligence and instincts he has when the ball is in the opposing penalty area. When the ball bounced back into the center there, strikers of lesser skill-sets may not have been in the right spot to take advantage.

It was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay intentional handling, though.

Photo: Getty Images

4. Alexis had a good game in the final reckoning, but Lazar Markovic was the best player on the pitch. Kieran Gibbs came in for Nacho Monreal, though on that evidence I don't think either one of them would have been able to live with the Serbian in that kind of mood.

Real talk, we're lucky that Oumar Niasse is either shit, hopelessly match-unfit, or little-of-both-columns. Markovic toasted Laurent Koscielny down the wing at one point in the first half, and his cutback across the area was inch-perfect. Niasse couldn't get on the end of it, though, or that was 1-0 to the other lot.

The way things have gone in the last week, it'd have been a MUCH different game if Hull took the lead there, I think.

5. Petr Cech didn't have all that much to do otherwise, though, as mentioned. There was one save in the first half that was pretty good, albeit one that you would expect your goalkeeper to make. Still, his positioning was on point and he did his job. Other than that, he did have some confident claims on crosses, and Hull weren't much danger on set pieces.

It's almost like he's a pretty good keeper still, and y'all need to take a seat.

6. I wonder how much more dangerous they would have been if Gibbs had been sent off in the second half, however. He fouled Markovic when he was the last defender, and letter of the law, he should have been red-carded.

Remember this game the next time someone tries to tell you that we never get the benefit of referee mistakes - over a long season, it does tend to balance out. Swings and roundabouts, and all that.

7. The other thing I wonder is if we would have been a bit more fluent if certain players had been given a chance today. It could be the sleep deprivation, but I don't remember a single thing that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain did today. Our other Alex, Iwobi, was energetic and direct but lacking a bit in the end product stakes.

I give the Twitterati a lot of crap here at this parish (and well-deserved at that), but the calls for Welbeck-Ozil-Lucas supporting Alexis were intriguing to me. Iwobi is a talent but I'm not sure he's doing enough to reasonably stay in the team right now.

8. That said, how about Theo showing a little fire there, eh? It's not surprising that the fans immediately started chanting his name - for me, I've been DYING to see any tangible evidence that these guys are going to fight to accomplish something this season. You may see some dipshit pundit or two call his outburst "petulant" or some such nonsense, but you can safely write that off as a garbage take.

Personally, I loved it. I don't think he contributed much in the actual run of play, but I'll take that in exchange for the jolt he gave the team when he got into Harry Maguire's face. More of this, please.

9. Getting back to the handball issue, I'll admit that in real time I thought that it was never a penalty in a million years. People always forget that the rule is "intentional handling", meaning both intent has to be there and the hand/arm has to be in an unnatural position. Even on the first replay, I thought that Sam Clucas was desperately unlucky.

The second replay, however, showed how good the call was (for the record, it looked to me like it was the AR who spotted it). Watch it again, and Clucas subtly sticks his elbow out. While it looked to me like an involuntary reaction more than anything else, that still counts as intent as far as the Law is written, and thus it was a penalty.

Photo: The Sun (Yes, I know, I'm sorry...I'm going to run my anti-virus now to fumigate my laptop)

As far as the penalty itself goes, I like what Eldin Jakupovic did in the Hull goal. He stayed in the middle and decided to react to the shot rather than pick a side. Alexis is the type to Paneka it more often than not, so it was a smart play. And, while the Chilean didn't do that, his kick was utterly horrid. Seriously, it was one of the worst penalties I've seen in a while - thankfully for us, Jakupovic matched him shit for shit there, and let it go through him. That was a leg/foot save all day, but he awkwardly dived and missed it.

You don't often blame a goalkeeper for a penalty, but on this occasion he was at fault.

10. That's about all I have to say about that, so I'll use this as a shout-out for the Austin Gooners down there in good old Texas. Your shirt was lucky today, ladies and gents.

Man of the Match: Lazar Markovic