Bank Holiday to Hull and back.
The main talking point of Monday night’s fixture is arguably the carelessness of Sky.
In a week which began with a chant from Arsenal fans hitting the headlines the TV company have made it incredibly difficult for fans to attend this fixture.
Monday night is hard enough, but on a Bank Holiday? It doesn’t help that Hull are charging a ridiculous amount. Ranked as a ‘Category A‘ game, Hull City already saw Liverpool fan groups boycott this away game last Monday.
Not only are people being priced out of football, but the television scheduling is making games even harder to get to. Something has to change.
As for the game itself, it’s a hard one to get excited for.
The Gunners earned a point in the flat 0-0 against Chelsea last week. The result continues a great run of form but also, in one way or another, seemed to sap momentum out of the side. Comfortably in the top four and close to confirming a place there Arsenal have little left to play for now.
Hull City, however, are fighting to avoid relegation. It’s by no means a dead rubber.
Next season Arsenal will hope to mount a title challenge, and Arsène Wenger wants to keep up our good run to set a platform to build from.
“That’s our challenge, to finish well and take that strength into the next season,” the boss said.
“The start of the season is linked with belief as well. We can just strengthen the belief by finishing well.”
Despite not playing last weekend Mathieu Debuchy is doubtful, the defender has an issue with his hamstring. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is still unavailable, but there is plenty of depth with the players who are fit.
With our last game being eight days ago and us still having a week between almost every fixture now, I wouldn’t expect much – if any – rotation. With Hull playing five at the back we may well see more strikers on the pitch, maybe Danny Welbeck will reclaim a role in the team.
Possible XI: Ospina; Bellerín, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin; Welbeck, Cazorla, Özil, Alexis; Giroud.
As I have already said, Hull City are in the midst of a relegation battle. In 16th place, Steve Bruce’s men find themselves just lingering above the relegation zone. Goal difference is all that is keeping them from 17th, while Sunderland – current occupants of the last relegation spot in 18th – are just a point behind.
Crystal Palace and Liverpool are warnings for us, having both lost to the extra motivated Tigers in the past two weeks. The Liverpool result was impressive, with Hull being the only side all season to keep two clean sheets against the Merseyside team.
The real issue for Hull is goals, and that should be no different on Monday with top goalscorer Nikica Jelavić still missing.
Leader from the back Curtis Davies has been so impressive in the past two seasons that there have been shouts for an England call-up but is also missing. With Mo Diamé a huge doubt Hull may well be without three key men on Monday night.
Nevertheless, they have a hell of a lot to play for and Arsenal best be prepared for a fight against a team which will defend ruggedly and look to nick all three points.
Possible XI: McGregor; Chester, Dawson, McShane; Elmohamady, Livermore, Huddlestone, Quinn, Brady; N’Doye, Aluko.
With the season coming to a close it’s important to end it on a high. Not only do we have to maintain our form heading towards the FA Cup Final, but it really could be key to head into next season with all that extra belief.
With West Brom beating United, Arsenal are on course to finish in second for the first time since the 2004/05 season. That and the FA Cup would ensure this season at least goes someway to going out with a bang.
It’s a long way to Hull and back and it hasn’t been made any easier by the completely thoughtless people at Sky.
Make the trip of those away fans worthwhile, Arsenal.