Hull 0 Arsenal 4: Five things we learned from the Gunners' convincing FA Cup win

8 Mar

David Ospina can be relied upon

There were moments here, as there was on Saturday, that suggested Arsenal can still rely on their man between the sticks, even if his name is not Petr Cech.

When David Meyler hit a powerful effort through a crowd of hopelessly discombobulated defenders, the Colombian bailed his team out. Despite seeing it late, he got down low and palmed it away.

It was the highlight of a competent, at times commanding performance. There was a sharp intake of breath among Arsenal supporters when Cech’s lay-off was relieved but, last night, Ospina’s solidity should have provided a sigh of relief.

Olivier Giroud’s form should boost the title challenge

It took 772 minutes for one of the Premier League’s most erratic players to end his latest barren spell. If history is anything to go by, Olivier Giroud should now proceed to enter one of his purple patches and eviscerate every defender in his wake. Well, for the about next three weeks, at least.

It may be wrong to read too much into his brace in a different competition against disinterested opposition from a lower division, but this is exactly the type of game the France international needed in order to play himself out of a funk. Now he’s done that, it’s one less obstacle for the Gunners’ fading title challenge.

Mohamed Elneny can be Arsenal’s lynchpin

After impressing in derby of high stakes and hot tempers, Mohamed Elneny received his first taste of another English football staple.

The midweek trip to a tough-tackling, well organised but technically inferior team is Arsenal’s traditional bête noire but the Egyptian appears to possess the mettle they have so routinely lacked.

His performance, alongside the somewhat shakier Mathieu Flamini, built on that strong showing at White Hart Lane. Despite the fresh casualties in defence, once Francis Coquelin returns to partner Elneny, Arsenal’s midfield base will have an encouraging robustness about it.

Those ‘boring’ questions will persist

Is this the turning point? Will this win be the catalyst for a fresh title charge? Is Arsene Wenger about to end the club’s long wait for a title? We’ve asked positive questions as many times as we have negative ones when it comes to Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal and to be honest, we’re as bored as he is.

Tonight, win or lose, was never going to resolve much. Indeed, it is worth remembering that, convincing though it was, this victory should have come 17 days ago. That may sound harsh after a 4-0 win but Arsenal must stop veering from triumph to disaster. Until then, the same questions will be asked because his team routinely fail to answer them.

Replay reform is inevitable but the Cup’s principles should be retained

Arsenal made five changes, Hull made seven. Now that super-clubs and second-tier sides alike are fielding weakened teams in the FA Cup, reform of the competition seems inevitable.

The interests of your humble non-league club, whose subsistence often depends on an unlikely cup run, will probably be an afterthought but when the restructuring comes, the Cup’s egalitarian principles should not be abandoned.

How about ending replays but, in every tie between Premier League teams and those in lower divisions, awarding the larger share of the gate receipts to the lower-ranked side? The minnows keep their money, the big boys clear their schedules.


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