Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's side take on Hull City in the 2014 FA Cup final on Saturday.
To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.
Of the 20 sides that competed in the Premier League this season, perhaps only Liverpool have been as flexible as Steve Bruce’s Hull City, and the Tigers will prove an unpredictable opponent in this Saturday’s FA Cup final.
Bruce utilised both a three- and a four-man defence regularly throughout the Premier League campaign, using the two systems roughly equally, and therefore it will be difficult for Arsenal to make solid tactical plans to combat Hull’s strengths.
The likes of Robert Koren, George Boyd, David Meyler and Jake Livermore can all support the main frontman
Arsène Wenger will probably emphasise the importance of Arsenal playing their own game, rather than worrying about the opposition.
Nevertheless, there are two contrasting potential approaches from Hull. The first is a 3-5-2/3-5-1-1 system that sees Curtis Davies, James Chester and Alex Bruce at the back. This would provide a secure defensive backline against Olivier Giroud, although Hull can be exposed through direct attacking into the channels, and often leave the opposition full backs free.
The alternative is a standard four-man defence, which makes Hull flatter and less capable of competing in the centre of the pitch, but with more numbers out wide.
The key difference from the recent league fixture between the clubs, a 3-0 Arsenal win at the KC Stadium, is the fact both Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic, Hull’s first-choice strike duo, are cup-tied.
In their absence, Bruce has used no fewer than six strikers during Hull’s previous six FA Cup matches this season. Sone Aluko, a clever forward who takes up good positions and makes intelligent runs, will probably lead the line - but the main threat will come from deeper.
The likes of Robert Koren, George Boyd, David Meyler and Jake Livermore can all support the main frontman - and in the same way Arsenal supplement Olivier Giroud with midfielders breaking forward, Hull will get midfield runners forward. They must be tracked.
Perhaps the main man to stop, however, is Tom Huddlestone. An inventive deep-lying central midfielder with a great passing range, if Arsenal manage to stop the distribution of the former Tottenham player, they might find their defensive task becomes much easier.Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 16 May 2014