A 2-0 home victory was the ideal way to bounce back from last week’s frustrations, and Arsenal’s defensive solidity seems to have returned – somewhat.
We’ve struggled to look convincing at the back when the team starts matches slowly but Arsenal were a constant threat against Hull, who looked dangerous under Marco Silva’s guidance.
Petr Čech was forced into a few good stops, nothing spectacular, but his defence was quietly solid despite a few shaky moments.
It was a surprise to many that the talented Spaniard was included from the offset, having sustained a head injury against Chelsea last weekend. Despite this though, he showed flashes of individual brilliance which justify his starting berth every matchday.
Getting forward well, he also did a good job isolating Kamil Grosicki’s impact on the game. The tricky winger started proceedings well but his influence waned once Bellerín got an foothold in the game.
A captain’s performance from our best defender.
Koscielny made a few well-timed tackles to dispossess Niasse on the odd occasion he bypassed Mustafi, and kept his concentration from the first minute to the last. It could’ve been another banana skin for the Gunners but with the Frenchman’s presence in the centre, Hull were frequently frustrated.
He was evidently cautious not to commit any fouls and there were one or two instances where he could’ve made a firm challenge on Markovic as he advanced goalwards. It’ll be interesting to see how he approaches tackling in his own defensive third going forrward against quick players after Eden Hazard’s solo strike last week.
Mustafi struggled at times against Chelsea but showed his composed nature at the back against Hull. Eager to pass out from defence, he did so with significantly more success than last weekend and his partnership with Koscielny was unsurprisingly solid as usual.
He wasn’t perfect though, as he found himself occasionally caught flat-footed by Oumar Niasse’s movement. Despite this, the German made five clearances and four tackles as he was kept busy with Hull bombing players forward when possible.
Gibbs’ inclusion in the side was his first Premier League start of 2017 and after Nacho Monreal’s poor form, Arsenal supporters were eager to welcome an alteration in the backline. Before the match, Arsene Wenger said the change was tactical to allow Gibbs to cope with Grosicki but the Hull City man played on the other flank for the most part.
Gibbs offered a viable attacking threat down the left and came close to breaking the deadlock before Alexis’ scrambled effort.
He, like Bellerín, took some time to get involved in proceedings. Defensively he didn’t make any prominent mistakes and his positional awareness was good. With that being said, a tactical foul on Markovic could’ve easily seen him dismissed as Hull stepped up efforts to equalise in the second 45.
Both players jumped up to challenge for the ball but Gibbs clattered the winger clean onto the turf. Gibbs explained what Mark Clattenburg said about the challenge and why he wasn’t going to send him off.
He was the last Arsenal player between Markovic and a goal-scoring opportunity but took a calculated risk, one that ultimately paid off.