Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's side face Hull City at KC Stadium on Monday. To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.
Steve Bruce has regularly switched between a three-man defence and a back four this season, but following two consecutive victories with a 3-5-2 formations, it is unlikely he will make significant changes for the visit of Arsenal.
That shape, of course, was partly what caused the Gunners so many problems early in last season’s FA Cup final, with an extra centre back adding to Hull’s set-piece threat.
On that note, Michael Dawson headed the only goal in Hull’s 1-0 victory over Liverpool last week and is likely to start between James Chester and Paul McShane at the heart of the Tigers’ defence. All decent in the air, it is nevertheless a three-man defence lacking pace.
There is plenty of that out wide, however. Robbie Brady gets up and down on the left touchline all game while right-sided Ahmed Elmohamady is decent going forward and also excellent in the air, often being the target for Steve Harper’s goal kicks.
In the middle, Hull use Tom Huddlestone in front of the defence, tasked with spraying diagonal balls forward to the wing backs or sometimes hitting the forward more directly. An excellent long-range passer, it is vital that Arsenal do not allow him time on the ball. In the 2-2 draw at Emirates Stadium he particularly liked hitting long passes to Elmohamady.
At turnovers Huddlestone can be suspect, however, as the ex-Tottenham midfielder lacks the mobility to get across the pitch and stop quick counter-attacks. Jake Livermore plays to his right and keeps things simple while Stephen Quinn shuttles out to the left, regularly combining with fellow Irish international Brady.
Up front, January signing Dame N’Doye has revitalised Hull’s season, scoring five goals in 11 games. A powerful and pacey striker, he usually starts on the outside of the centre backs and chases down long balls towards the corners, particularly the right.
His partner should be Sone Aluko, who also runs the channels but combines more neatly in deep positions. The two have struck up a good understanding recently.
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