16 October 2014 16:24
Arsene Wenger is wary of the threat posed by Hull City, despite Arsenal’s superb record against Saturday’s visitors to the Emirates Stadium.
Hull have lost their last seven meetings with Wenger’s men, after recording a memorable 2-1 away win in the first Premier League fixture between the sides in September 2008.
Arsenal’s last success against Hull saw them come from two goals down to triumph 3-2 after extra-time in last season’s FA Cup final at Wembley.
However, Wenger believes his team will face much stronger opposition this weekend.
“When you look at their team-sheet now, it looks like a team that could beat anybody,” said the long-serving Arsenal manager.
“We expect a tough opponent. They couldn’t use [Nikica] Jelavic in the Cup last season – since then they’ve bought [Mohamed] Diame, [Abel] Hernandez and they’ve bought other good players.”
Arsenal, who suffered a first league defeat of the season at Chelsea prior to the international break, are being forced to contend with a lengthy injury list, with Laurent Koscielny (Achilles) the latest player to be sidelined after returning from France duty.
Theo Walcott and Serge Gnabry (both knee) are back in training, but not yet ready for first-team action, while Aaron Ramsey is being lined up to make his comeback from a thigh problem against Anderlecht in Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League tie.
Wenger is also missing Mesut Ozil (knee), Olivier Giroud (fractured tibia), Calum Chambers (suspension), Mathieu Debuchy (ankle) and Yaya Sanogo (hamstring), but Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta (both calf) are expected to be available.
Hull, one point and three places behind Arsenal in 11th, remain without goalkeeper Allan McGregor (shoulder) and long-term absentee Robert Snodgrass (dislocated kneecap).
However, Ahmed Elmohamady could be involved despite missing Egypt’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifying double-header against Botswana due to a back spasm.
Hatem Ben Arfa and Gaston Ramirez, two of Hull’s recruits in the last transfer window, have been restricted to substitute appearances thus far and will hope to gain maiden starts in north London.
Steve Bruce’s side claimed a welcome three points in their last outing, beating Crystal Palace 2-0 to secure their first league win since the opening day of the season.
That success was particularly valuable given that Hull now face two tricky away fixtures in succession, with a trip to Liverpool following Saturday’s match versus a side unbeaten in 21 Premier League matches on home soil.