To Hull and back (but at home)

Hector Bellerin Arsenal 2016

It’s Hull City today, an early kick-off, and a game that demand nothing less than three points.

It’s fair to say this has been a testing week for everyone, club, players, manager, and fans alike, so there’s no small amount of pressure surrounding today’s game. Are they ready to fight and show some mettle, or is this going to be another game in which we fail to do ourselves justice.

Clearly I hope it’s the former, and the quality of the players we have is sufficient to do that. We let ourselves down against Chelsea and in particular Watford, so a home game against a team that is currently sitting in the relegation zone is one from which we should be taking all three points.

Hull’s league position doesn’t mean they’re pushovers or easy. They beat Liverpool last weekend, and leaving aside the Mugsmashers rotten form, that still takes some work. They’ve had that boost and bounce you get with a new manager in charge, and won’t be as worried about us as they might have been. Add to that the fact teams down there are scrapping for survival, and it does make things challenging.

Still, I think we’ve got the players to do them damage, and hopefully Arsene Wenger will shuffle his pack a bit today. To some extent his choices were limited in the last couple of games because of absences and injuries – especially when you have to make a change not long into the game as we did against Watford and Chelsea.

Hector Bellerin is back in full training as he continues to progress through the steps required to be considered for selection today, and if he’s ok to play then you’d like to see him back at right-back, we’re better defensively and as attacking unit with him in the side.

Mohamed Elneny could come back into midfield, and fitness permitting I would very much like to see a front three of Welbeck, Perez and Alexis. The pace, power, craft and creativity they possess suggest a potent combination, and if they don’t quite click you’ve still got the likes of Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott to throw on from the bench if needed.

Arsene Wenger says:

What is important is that we show that we are united. We have a good opportunity to show that we are a united strong unit and that we can bounce back.

When you don’t win you cannot as well say that all is well. You have to analyse that something is not right. It is our job to find where and to have a strong united response.

Earlier in the week he called for unity, for fans to get behind the team, and at this point the relationship feels a bit less symbiotic than it should be. Hopefully the team can provide the kind of performance that gets people energised, but if needed let’s hope the fans can give a bit back today if we do struggle.

A good start seems vital, we’ve been so slow out of the blocks in recent games, so being on it right from the first whistle would be a big help. Beyond that it is just so hard to know what you’re going to get from this team though, fingers crossed it’s a good response to what has been a difficult week.

Meanwhile, Ian Wright says it’s his impression that Arsene Wenger might call it quits at the end of the season. Speaking on BBC 5 Live after a function in which he and the manager were present, he said:

I get the impression that that’s it. He looks tired. You just feel that he looks winded. I feel that he will go at the end of the season. He actually mentioned that he is coming to the end. I have never heard him say that before.

The players have let him down badly. If he does leave at the end of the season, there will be a lot of changes. They should have a long, hard look at themselves. He has been so faithful to his team, it has been misplaced.

Of course as long as the contract remains unsigned, the conjecture over his future will continue, and it’s brought into sharp focus when results and performances are poor. Whatever happens though, it won’t be until the end of the season – for all that entails – but to hear that from a man who greatly respects Arsene Wenger is certainly very interesting.

For more on the manager, his future, the board’s role in the direction of this club and more, there’s still time for a pre-match listen to this week’s Arsecast. I’m joined by Hugh Wizzy to discuss it all, so listen below.

And do check out this week’s review from the Arsenal Gent and he lays to rest our season in inimitable style.


Right, that’s your lot, see some of you for pre/post-game pint in the usual spot. It’s a cold one so I’ll be shouting loudly to warm myself up, sadly not in the vicinity of the NBC commentary position though.

Come on you reds.