After a hard-fought point away at the Parc des Princes in midweek, it’s back to the rigours of Premier League football with another 3pm kick-off this weekend.
Hull have exceeded critics’ expectations in regard to the way they’ve started the season, and have been deserved praised as a result. Their start to the league campaign was dented slightly by a last-gasp Manchester United goal before the international break, and they drew 1-1 away at Turf Moor last weekend.
It doesn’t get easier for either side over the coming weeks, but with two consecutive wins in the league, Arsenal players will travel to the KCOM Stadium with renewed confidence that further consistent results can kickstart their title charge against a Hull side that are dangerous in their own right, but may be gradually running out of early season steam.
Arsène Wenger confirmed that Aaron Ramsey (hamstring) is still sidelined as they’re eager to be “cautious” with him, to avoid a potential setback, which can easily occur with these types of issues.
Ahead of the EFL third round fixture away against Nottingham Forest, it’s expected that Wenger will field a number of youngsters but again, Ramsey will not feature as it’s “too early for him”, although he began training again last week at London Colney.
Per Mertesacker, who is out of contract next summer, has not been offered a new extension as of yet. As he’s ruled out of action until early 2017, Wenger had this to say about his current situation:
“At the moment we have not dealt with that situation. We are not especially [waiting for him to return to full fitness], but of course he has to come back. We will see together at some stage when he will be back in full training.”
Wenger has also reassured those who could be worried about Granit Xhaka. The talented Swiss international surprisingly didn’t start against the Parisiens in midweek, but the boss has remained firm on his stance, saying the following:
“Xhaka is adapting to the pace of the English game, but he will play games – every week he’s stronger and better. I think he will have a huge impact.”
Petr Čech is expected to be recalled after dropping to the substitutes’ bench during our 1-1 draw against PSG in midweek.
Olivier Giroud (toe) and Theo Walcott (knock) will require late fitness tests and although Gabriel (knee) is ahead of schedule and in normal training, he’s not expected to feature until next week at least.
Possible XI (4-2-3-1): Cech; Bellerín, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Xhaka, Cazorla; Iwobi, Sánchez, Özil; Perez.
Hull are a side that embrace the tag of underdogs against the big teams and despite their lack of depth, have a number of key players who could pose our backline serious questions on Saturday.
Amongst them is deadline day signing Dieumerci Mbokani, who has been included in their squad for the first time since sealing a loan switch from Dynamo Kyiv. They have an option to buy in the forward’s contract, so the Congolese frontman will be eager to impress as his addition provides variation in attack with the likes of Abel Hernandez and Adama Diomandé leading the line currently.
Ryan Mason, who made his league debut against Arsenal two seasons ago, could feature whilst Will Keane and Markus Henriksen, amongst other new acquisitions, will be itching to play this weekend.
Regardless of the starting line-up, Hull have the potential for an unwelcome upset against an Arsenal side gradually building some momentum in this period of the campaign.
Possible XI (4-3-3): Jakupovic; Robertson, Livermore, Davies, Elmohamady; Meyler, Mason, Huddlestone; Snodgrass, Diomande, Hernandez.