Competition: FA Cup: Fifth Round – Arsenal vs. Hull City
Venue: Emirates Stadium – Saturday, February 20 – 12:45 GMT (07:45 ET)
Match Odds: Arsenal 1/2 – Draw 3/1 – Hull City 6/1
FA Cup holders Arsenal continue the defence of their title at home to Championship side Hull City in the fifth round’s lunchtime kick-off on Saturday afternoon.
The Gunners have seen off Sunderland and Burnley in the previous rounds and haven’t suffered defeat in this competition for three years – the last time they last lost was at this stage in 2013 at the hands of Blackburn Rovers.
Arsene Wenger’s side have since won 14 consecutive FA Cup ties and if they go on to win it this year, they will not only become the first team to win it three times in a row since 1886, but if they avoid a draw along the way, they will also set the record for most consecutive wins in the competition, which is currently 16 (a record they hold jointly).
Arsenal come into this game after much needed wins over Bournemouth and title rivals Leicester in the Premier League and will be looking to continue their return to winning ways.
Hull City arrive in London following a hard-fought goalless draw against fellow Championship high-flyers Brighton on Tuesday night – a result that sees them top the division after 31 games.
The Tigers’ main focus this season will be trying to secure a return to the Premier League, but wins over Brighton and Bury has booked them a place in the fifth round with familiar opposition, as many will recall that Hull faced the Gunners in last year’s third round as well as that famous final in 2014.
Steve Bruce’s side have only lost one of their last nine games in all competitions (W7, D1, L1) and may fancy their chances of causing a major upset against the defending champions.
The last meeting between these two sides saw Arsenal beat Hull 3-1 at the KC Stadium in a Premier League clash back in May 2015.
Arsenal could rest a number of key players as Arsene Wenger will undoubtedly have one eye on a crucial midweek Champions League clash with Barcelona. Danny Welbeck could start, while January signing Mohamed Elneny will hope for another run out. Gabriel will miss the game through injury, while Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla also remain sidelined.
Hull City boss Steve Bruce has admitted that he’ll have to rotate his squad given the fixture congestion of playing midweek, at the weekend, and then midweek again. Nick Powell, who is on loan from Manchester United, is set to make his debut, however, fellow loanees Chuba Akpom and Isaac Hayden are ineligible to play against their parent club.
Arsenal’s last five in all competitions: L/W/D/W/W
Hull City’s last five in all competitions: W/W/L/W/D
Key Stat: Hull have only beaten Arsenal once in their last 16 attempts in all competitions (D2, L13).
Key Player: Theo Walcott – There’s a chance that Walcott could get a rare start through the middle on Saturday and should he do so, he could cause the Hull defence some serious problems with his pace. The Englishman looks to have been slightly lacking confidence in recent weeks, but that goal against Leicester at the weekend could rekindle his form.
Arsenal 2-1 Hull City – The Gunners should just narrowly edge this tie with home advantage to call upon, but they certainly won’t find it an easy task to get past a strong Championship outfit with plenty of Premier League experience.