Arsenal v Hull City

Scouting Report - Hull City

Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.

Hull City are the visitors to Emirates Stadium in the Premier League on Wednesday, to find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox and journalist Phil Buckingham.

Hull City are one of the most tactically flexible sides in the Premier League, with Steve Bruce frequently varying his formation this season.

After using a 3-5-2 system throughout much of the Tigers’ promotion campaign, Bruce has generally played a standard back four this season - although in the past two away matches, defeats against Tottenham and Southampton, he’s returned to a formation featuring three centre backs.

"Hull's real problem is goalscoring, having managed just 12 in 13 matches - and three of those came on Sunday"

Michael Cox

Regardless of the system, expect Hull to play a very cautious, reactive game on Wednesday. They’ve averaged just 39 per cent of possession on their travels this season, the least of all 20 Premier League sides, and are likely to use a deep defensive line with sporadic pressure in the centre of midfield.

At the back, Curtis Davies has been one of the stand-out performers but he is suspended after picking up a booking against Liverpool. Hull's other centre backs have had fitness problems - James Chester played the first five matches but has been out since, while replacements Abdoulaye Faye and Paul McShane have also struggled. Hull seem to be particularly vulnerable to opposition runs from deep - most of the goals they’ve conceded in open play this season have been scored by midfielders.

Maynor Figueroa will start at left back, although he can shift inside should Bruce deploy a three-man defence, having played in that position for Wigan. At right back Bruce can choose between Liam Rosenior and Ahmed Elmohamady - or play them in tandem with the latter as a defensive-minded right winger.

Two consistent starters are the two ex-Tottenham midfielders, Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore. They have a good relationship in the centre of the pitch - Huddlestone is solid positionally and sprays passes out to the flanks, whereas Livermore gets through more running, and retains possession with shorter, more reliable balls.

Hull's real problem is goalscoring, having managed just 12 in 13 matches - and three of those came on Sunday. Two of their goals were Robbie Brady penalties - both winners - and another an own goal. Yannick Sagbo will lead the line, probably alone with Sone Aluko still out injured.

The win over Liverpool was much-needed for Hull City. Their two worst performances of the season had preceded that game with a heavy defeat at Southampton and then losing at home to Crystal Palace, who started the day bottom of the league. So they needed a reaction and they certainly produced one against the Reds - it was their best result of the season and all of a sudden they're back into the top half of the league.

If you look at the Tigers' start to the season as a whole, it's very encouraging. Taking 17 points from the first 13 games is excellent for any newly-promoted side. They've not looked out of place and haven't really been rolled over when they've come up against the big teams.

"I think they [Hull] will try and keep it tight in the early stages and then try to attack more as the game goes on"

Phil Buckingham

Curtis Davies is suspended for Wednesday's game at the Emirates and he has been Hull's stand-out player so far this season so he'll be a big loss. At the same time they've got James Chester, who was one of the most influential players in their promotion-winning season last year.

Elsewhere, you would probably have to pick out someone like Tom Huddlestone, who is well know in north London. He signed from Spurs for a club record fee and he's fully justified that. He makes them tick from the middle of the park and you need a bit of style and composure when you're a newly-promoted team - he provides that.

It's hard to predict what formation Hull will use against Arsenal because they've used a few this year. The majority of games they've played a standard 4-4-2 formation but sometimes they've reverted to a wing-back shape of 3-5-2, which worked well against Liverpool.

I see no reason why Hull will go into this game with any pressure. The win over Liverpool has given them plenty of breathing space but you can only look at the times where they've gone to the big clubs. They played well at Manchester City and beat Newcastle away from home. So they've not been disgraced on their travels and they give as good as they get on the

I think they will try and keep it tight in the early stages and then try to attack more as the game goes on.

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