Saturday 11th February 12:30
Regular readers will be aware that, whilst this column may well be a self-proclaimed bastion of – what’s the term? – wonderful wordiness, accurate predictions can be somewhat lacking. It’s for that reason that we’re still kicking ourselves that we didn’t put a few quid on Hull to beat Liverpool last week. It’s been noted on these pages more than once that Liverpool are an exceptionally generous team when it comes to playing the lesser lights and with the form Hull have been in, that result really should have been a lock.
As constant as the northern star
But should we go as far as to advise the same with regard to their visit to Arsenal this Saturday? We’re not quite sure at this point but bear with us and let’s see how far down the rabbit hole we go. We did predict that the Gunners would be beaten by Chelsea last week but, in fairness, that was hardly a tough one to call. It was the manner of the defeat, however, that will rankle with Arsenal supporters everywhere. Ordinarily you might venture to suggest that the likes of Hull are just the team to come against next but Arsenal’s ‘ordinarily’ is different to most teams.
Lies, damn lies and form
For a start, let’s look at their respective form over the last five matches: W2 D1 L2 for both. A closer look will show you that Hull’s last loss was three matches back whereas Arsenal have lost their last two so the form is very much in the visitor’s favour coming into this tie. Having said that, even allowing for the upswing in fortune and results since Marco Silva took the reins, their away form is horrendous with their last league win on the road coming in the very first match of the season back in August.
Making a case for the unlikely
Is it too much, then, to expect that they reverse this awful run of results away from home against a wounded and fragile giant? It’s certainly not unthinkable even if form suggests unlikely. Their winter recruits gelled very well in their first outing together last week and they will have taken a huge amount of encouragement from beating Liverpool. So while it’s difficult to get too carried away about their chances here, they come into this tie in as good as stead as they could hope to be.
Battle weary, not hardened
Exactly the opposite can be said of Arsenal. They are 12 points off the lead with all hopes of mounting a title challenge shelved for another season. If they had beaten Watford and then Chelsea, they would be three points off the top but if my auntie had balls we’d call her Brian. Instead, they must now look to pull themselves together and fight for their perennial top four finish much to the anguish and outrage of their increasingly militant supporters.
Out straight, we think that Hull have a chance of coming away from London with something in their pockets. Now, it’s entirely possible some of our thinking here is informed by missing out on backing them last week so bear that in mind when making your decision. Arsenal, for all their constant woes, do have a very good record at home. So whilst the market and sensible money should look at an Arsenal win, a draw is not magical thinking and the price of 26/5 for that result from MarathonBet makes it worth a frivolous fiver.