Aaron Ramsey and Arsenal will be confident of victory against Hull. Reuters
Theo Walcott is set for his first Arsenal start in around three months, as the league leaders welcome high-flying Hull City to the Emirates in the English Premier League on Wednesday night.
The Gunners sit atop the league table, four points clear of second-placed Chelsea. Arsene Wenger's men go into this tie in excellent form, having won five of their last six games in all competitions, including an impressive 3-0 triumph away at Cardiff City on Saturday.
Arsenal have the momentum but Wenger is expected to make a few changes to his starting lineup for tonight, in a bid to keep his players fresh as the campaign enters a busy period, where they host Hull and Everton, before travelling to Napoli and Manchester City for two crucial fixtures; all inside 11 days.
"When you play so many games of that intensity, we expect to lose one or two players. I rotate considering the level of fatigue. In every single game I will rotate. I try to limit the number because I do not want to disrupt the balance of the team, so I do that in every single game," Wenger pointed out.
"We have some indications - my eyes, some objective data and, as well, some positions where it's more demanding on the physical front than others. We have so many games that in some positions I will have to change; the full-back position is one that is very demanding. Central defence is a little bit less demanding on the physical side, it's more on the concentration side," the Frenchman added.
Hull City players celebrate a goal against Liverpool, December 1. Reuters
This fixture would have been considered a routine home win for Arsenal, till last week. However, after seeing Hull defeat Liverpool in such convincing fashion on Sunday, this match is now also seen a tricky test for the Gunners.
The win against the Reds has lifted Steve Bruce's side into the top 10 in the table; something which the manager claims is "no fluke". And though their away record has not been great this year, the Tigers will be confident of returning from the Emirates with a positive result.
"We knew from the start of the season we'd be underdogs. We were favourites in many peoples' eyes to go down. The one thing we've done is be consistent and played to a level that's given us a chance. That means we've got to play well week in and week out, which is always difficult because you can't afford many off days. We certainly can't have one at Arsenal," Bruce stressed.
"We'll have to be at our best but we've proved at Tottenham, Everton, Newcastle, Chelsea and Manchester City that we can make a fist of it. We've maybe not got the right result but that's the way we've got to approach it. Let's have a go and see what we can do," he added.
Arsenal: Bacary Sagna is out of this tie with a hamstring injury suffered against Cardiff. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain [knee] and Yaya Sanogo [back] are still sidelined for the Gunners, so is long-term casualty Abou Diaby [knee]. Lukas Podolski [hamstring] will be back in full training from Thursday but it will take another week for the German to make it to the 18-man squad. Otherwise, Wenger has a full squad to choose from, though he is likely to rest a few players.
Hull: Winger Sone Aluko [Achilles], midfielder Stephen Quinn and defender Paul McShane [both hamstring] will miss the trip to north London. Curtis Davies is suspended for tonight but fellow centre-back James Chester is back from a hamstring problem and is set for his first appearance since September. Striker Matty Fryatt is also back, having returned from a loan spell with Sheffield Wednesday.
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for a 1.15 am IST start on Thursday morning, with live coverage on Star Sports HD2. You can also catch the match via live streaming by clicking HERE. To watch the action in the U.S., click HERE. To live stream it in the U.K., click HERE. Viewers in the Middle East and North Africa can click HERE.
Expected lineups: Arsenal: Szczesny; Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Flamini, Arteta; Walcott, Ramsey, Rosicky; Giroud
Hull: McGregor; Elmohamady, Chester, Bruce, Figueroa; Huddlestone; Koren, Livermore, Boyd; Meyler, Sagbo
Prediction: 2-0 to Arsenal
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