By Max Jones
“In 2015 we finished third in the league and won the trophy again. We have an opportunity now at home to be in the competition for the third time. Of course we want to take advantage of that and win our game.” - Arsène Wenger
In order for Arsenal to achieve a ‘three-peat’ of FA Cup wins, they will have to complete a hat-trick of victories over a familiar opponent in Hull City.
The last time the sides met in this competition, the Gunners claimed a routine win over Steve Bruce’s struggling side as Per Mertesacker and Alexis’ goals set them fair on their way to a record 12th FA Cup.
It was a far cry from the 2014 final, when Wenger’s side had to come back from two goals behind to lift the trophy, and the manager is hoping his side can take the fighting spirit shown on that day into Saturday’s fifth-round fixture.
“I just remember the painful moments of that game and the relief, because we were under huge pressure to deliver this trophy and were 2-0 down after 20 minutes,” Wenger recalled. “It could have been three!
“The way we refused to lose this game was maybe the start of something and built up the confidence. In 2015 we finished third in the league and won the trophy again.
“We have an opportunity now at home to be in the competition for the third time. Of course we want to take advantage of that and win our game against Hull.”
|Arsenal: Wilshere (ankle), Rosicky (thigh), Cazorla (knee), Gabriel (hamstring)
Hull City: Akpom (ineligible), Hayden (ineligible)
With Bruce still at the helm, Hull are now two points clear at the top of the Championship, but Wenger believes that Sunday’s last-gasp win over Leicester will give Arsenal the momentum they need to extend their unbeaten run in the FA Cup to 15 games.
“The team is up for it, the team has a united spirit and the team is ready for a fight,” he said. “We are ready to deal with uncomfortable situations and find a solution to them.
“I think that’s what you saw in the [Leicester] game. Until the last second of the match, we were united, relentless and had the desire to change things. In a big game, when you’re 1-0 down, to be capable to win 2-1 is of course very important.
“You want to take care of the momentum because you’re quickly in a loss of confidence if you are not careful. The best thing you can do as a manger is to prepare with the needed resolute attitude that keeps this momentum alive.”
ONE TO WATCH
Although it took a team effort to beat Leicester last weekend, Danny Welbeck stole all the headlines – and rightly so.
The England forward had been sidelined for almost 10 months with a knee injury, but glanced home Mesut Ozil’s free-kick in the fifth minute of stoppage time to secure a vital three points against the league leaders and spark euphoric celebrations inside Emirates Stadium.
Welbeck has developed a penchant for crucial goals, with last Sunday’s header following an FA Cup quarter-final winner at Old Trafford and a 91st-minute equaliser against Hull last season, and Wenger believes the 25-year-old can play a crucial part in Arsenal’s title challenge.
“He hasn’t played for 10 months, comes on and scores,” he said. “On top of that, he is loved and liked by everybody in the squad, and everybody was very happy for him.
“He was on a very good spell just before he got injured last season. Let’s not forget we won the FA Cup last year but he was instrumental in the decisive game at Old Trafford.
“After that, he got injured. It was a big loss for us and of course a very bad period for him as well. Let’s hope now he has all these worries behind him and that he will have a very good end of season.”
Chuba Akpom struck a hat-trick for Hull in their fourth-round victory over Bury, but with the Arsenal loanee ineligible for this game, Abel Hernandez will lead the line.
|Alexis has scored five goals in six starts in the FA Cup. His first goal in the competition was scored against Hull City in January 2015
Arsenal have won nine and lost none of the last 10 matches against Hull City in all competitions
Aaron Ramsey has scored in his last three starts against Hull City in all competitions
The Uruguay international struggled in the Premier League following his switch from Palermo, but has excelled this season, hitting 16 goals in 25 Championship games, including a first-half hat-trick in Hull’s 6-0 thumping of Charlton.
Hernandez also gave the Tigers the lead on their first visit to the Emirates last season, peeling off Per Mertesacker to power home, and Wenger says his side must be wary of the physical striker.
“He has a strong body,” the manager said. “His movement is very solid and quick - it’s good. He is a great finisher and has scored 16 [league] goals.
“He keeps Chuba Akpom out of the team, so he must be an exceptional player because Chuba is a great player. He is something we will have to deal well with.”
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