Hull 0 Arsenal 3 match report: Aaron Ramsey outshines Mesut Ozil as Lukas Podolski bags another double
Gunners strengthen grip on top four with win in FA Cup dress rehearsal
Sunday 20 April 2014
Mesut Ozil’s timely return might drive Arsenal home in their attempts to earn a top-four finish but it was the spark provided by Aaron Ramsey which helped the Gunners collect three valuable points here against Hull City on Sunday.
Ozil, the £42.5m German, made his comeback after seven matches out injured, but he was outshone by Ramsey, who played a part in all three goals.
Ramsey scored his 16th of the season before twice contributing to the goals Lukas Podolski scored either side of half-time to take his tally to four goals in two matches.
“Ramsey and Özil give us a cutting edge in the final third that make us look much more dangerous,” Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, said.
“Football is down to the quality of the players. We have had problems scoring goals away from home but players like that help. It was good to have Özil back. The timing of his passes and incisiveness means we can turn from defence to offence very quickly. We knew we had to win: we had that kind of pressure. We could already see against West Ham there’s something better and we saw it again today. It looks like there’s oil in the engine again.”
This victory, against a spirited Hull team, means the Gunners hold their place in the top four, but are just one point ahead of Everton after the Merseysiders’ victory over Manchester United yesterday.
These sides will meet again in the FA Cup final at Wembley but Wenger will not regard this as an indicator as to how that match might pan out on 17 May. “We need to finish the Premier League season as strongly as we can and the Cup final will be completely different,” Wenger said. “It was a big win [today]. The first half was very physical at a high pace and our defenders needed to be strong on crosses. We looked dangerous in their half.
“In the second half, after the third goal, we controlled the game completely.”
Mesut Ozil in action for Arsenal in their 3-0 win over Hull
It was not quite as comfortable as the scoreline might suggest, particularly in the first half.
After play was interrupted when advertisement hoardings blew on to the field from pitch side, Hull refocused quickly and subjected their visitors to a robust examination. Mikel Arteta lost a tooth for his troubles.
Arsenal just about stood strong in the face of a Hull storm in the opening exchanges. Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny tipped Nikica Jelavic’s low shot around the post after Tom Huddlestone’s quick free-kick.
At the opposite end, Steve Harper beat away Podolski’s effort from the edge of the area after Ramsey led an Arsenal counter-attack but Hull were soon back on the attack and they should have taken the lead through Shane Long.
Aaron Ramsey celebrates after opening the scoring in Arsenal's win over Hull
The Ireland striker caught up with another excellent Jake Livermore pass to go one on one with Szczesny. Shooting was Long’s only option but, with the angle narrowing, he fired over the bar.
It was the sort of chance Hull needed to take and Arsenal’s response was ruthless.
Özil and Santi Cazorla combined delightfully to work the ball to Ramsey on the edge of the Hull area and the Wales midfielder drilled his low shot beyond Harper.
Livermore, on loan from Tottenham, shone in the first half for Hull and was unlucky not to score his fourth goal of the season. He arrived to meet David Meyler’s square pass 20 yards out but the low shot came back off the foot of the post.
Arsenal doubled their lead courtesy of another incisive attack on the break. Hull felt they should have been awarded a free-kick as Jelavic tumbled under pressure from Arteta in the Arsenal half and, seconds later, the ball was in the Hull net.
Olivier Giroud crossed to Ramsey, whose chest down fell perfectly for Podolski and the German’s left-foot volley flashed beyond Harper.
Ramsey was instrumental again as Arsenal killed off the contest with the third goal nine minutes into the second half. Cazorla exploited space behind Ahmed Elmohamady and crossed from the left for Ramsey. Harper blocked the midfielder’s first-time shot with a foot but Podolski was lurking to rifle in the loose ball.
Giroud almost capitalised on an error from Harper to give Arsenal a fourth. The Frenchman closed down as the goalkeeper hesitated in dealing with Liam Rosenior’s back pass. He blocked the clearance but could only force his snap shot against the bar.
A top-four finish for Arsenal will guarantee Europa League football for Hull next season but their immediate concern is survival in the Premier League. The Tigers are almost sure to stay up but it is not yet a certainty.
“I’m not really interested in Wembley just yet,” Steve Bruce, the Hull manager, said. “We’ve got to stay in this league and let Wembley look after itself. We’ve got to concentrate on the next few games and make sure we get over the line. We haven’t done it yet. We’re not safe.
“We’ve still got a bit of work to do. Towards the end, of course, it was very easy for them but the first half was the best we’ve played for weeks.
“I couldn’t have been more pleased but, unfortunately, we find ourselves 2-0 down. Sometimes it is cruel but that’s what the big league’s all about.”
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