After successive defeats against Watford and Chelsea, it’s about restoring order from Arsenal’s perspective as Hull arrive at the Emirates with a massive bag of banana skins.
In terms of the title race, it seems to be over.
A whopping 12-point gap from leaders Chelsea is a lot despite only being in February, especially as there is a good chance the Gunners will squander another winnable fixture between now and the end of the season.
Despite this though, the past few weeks have reiterated how quickly things can change. Arsenal were sitting pretty in second and had a genuine opportunity to pressure the Blues. They now find themselves a point away from slipping outside the Champions League places.
Arsène Wenger had plenty to say in his pre-match presser, confirming team news updates and talking about a forgettable week for the club results-wise.
“Elneny is back. Apart from that, there is a question [fitness] about Bellerín. He is going through tests, we’ll know tomorrow,” he said.
It’s unlikely that the Spaniard will be risked, having sustained a head injury when challenging for the ball with Marcos Alonso last Saturday.
“It is a good opportunity to show what we are made of. We have a big fight in the Premier League and Champions League, we still have the FA Cup as well,” Wenger added.
On this weekend’s opposition, he said: “I thought Hull played well since the start of the season, they were a bit unlucky sometimes and will be tough opposition for us.”
Despite the 4-1 scoreline in our previous fixture, Hull made it a hard-fought contest at the KCOM in September. Jake Livermore’s 40th minute dismissal was significant in helping create further space across the pitch as the match continued.
On the importance of supporters getting behind the team: “We have absolutely to be united, or we have no chance.”
Questions over whether David Ospina should be recalled to the starting line-up have continued to intensify in recent weeks. Petr Čech’s performances this term have been far from consistent and his display against Chelsea in particular was disappointing. With that being said, it’s unlikely Wenger will make such a significant change at the back given his faith in the 34-year-old.
Nacho Monreal has struggled in equal measure to live up to his high standards this season, and Kieran Gibbs should be given more of an opportunity going forward.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has thus far flourished in a central midfield role, but Francis Coquelin’s performance last weekend was heavily disappointing and it’d be unsurprising to see him dropped too.
Possible XI (4-2-3-1): Čech; Gabriel, Mustafi, Koscielny, Gibbs; Ox, Coquelin; Iwobi, Welbeck, Özil; Alexis.
Hull will make the trip to north London quietly confident that they can battle hard for a positive result. After all, teams such as Middlesbrough and Watford have already done so at the Emirates this term.
They look a team rejuvenuated by Marco Silva’s arrival and following their morale-boosting win over Liverpool last weekend, they’ll be hoping for more of the same this time around.
In terms of statistics, they are yet to beat a team at the top this season away from home: but that could all change if Arsenal don’t start well Saturday lunchtime.
Winter acquisitions Andrea Rannocchia, Oumar Niasse and Kamil Grosicki have already made notable differences to Hull’s starting eleven with convincing performances. The next best test for them is to deliver against one of the league’s best.