In beating Leicester over the weekend, a new belief has spread through the red half of North London. Arsenal dug deep for the win, earning three points with the last kick of the game. Wenger is likely to rotate his squad and give some of the first XI a break. Having scored the winning goal against the Foxes, Danny Welbeck is set to continue his return from injury here. Whatever your football alliance, seeing an England player return from such a long lay-off is heartening. Steve Bruce’s Hull are top of the Championship and on course for automatic promotion, but have lost in 5 of their last 6 visits to the Emirates. The odds are against them turning it around this time.
The former Spurs captain has been one of Hull’s finest performers this season, and will have extra motivation against the Gunners. The Championship has been good to Dawson, where the preponderance of long-balls suits his style of play. He is an excellent leader on the field, good in the air and would be a welcome addition to any lower half Premier League side. However, the shortcomings in his game are likely to be exposed against Arsenal, particularly his desperate lack of pace.
Another ex-Hotspur, Livermore has been working on rebuilding his reputation following a positive test for cocaine following a personal tragedy. A tidy defensive midfielder, his movement has complemented his midfield partner Huddlestone (who moves like an oil tanker). Livermore should probably be plying his trade in the top division and if Hull were to miss out on promotion it’s likely he’d move if the right opportunity came along.
Arsenal fans will be delighted to have Danny Welbeck return to fitness at exactly the right time. Several of Wenger’s players have looked jaded in recent weeks, a punishing schedule on top of a long injury list has depleted energy levels in the squad. Welbeck’s pace alone ought to be a severe headache for Hull’s defence, but the England striker is also a competent finisher and is likely to be amongst the goals in this match. Wenger will be cautious about reintroducing Welbeck and it might be a while before he starts in a league game, but that day will arrive sooner if the ex-Manchester United striker recovers well.
Arguably Arsenal’s most useful striker, if not the most prolific one. His acceleration and movement stretches defences and pulls defenders out of position, giving Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez more room to create opportunities for themselves and teammates. One wonders what Walcott could achieve if he was being played every week in his desired spot—and will he ever be fully trusted in that capacity at the Emirates?