Arsenal - Hull preview: Two sides face each other for third year running in FA Cup

Arsenal prepare to entertain Hull this weekend for the third consecutive year in what is a replay of the 2014 FA Cup final.

Arsenal - Hull preview: Two sides face each other for third year running in FA Cup
Arsenal vs Hull preview: Two sides face each other for third year running in Cup

Arsenal go into their FA Cup Fifth Round encounter with Hull City with great hope that they can win the competition for a third successive season. Perhaps facing Hull in every season since they ended their trophy drought presents a strong omen that the Gunners could win the famous competition yet again.

Of course Arséne Wenger's side have bigger aspirations this season, winning late on against Leicester last weekend showed they really are in the title race, but this weekend provides a nice little distraction from the heat of the Premier League for Arsenal.

This game falls in what is a crucial period for the Gunners. They survived the test of Leicester City, but providing they get through in the FA Cup on Saturday lunchtime, they then have games against Barcelona and Manchester United to come.

Arsenal are unbeaten in three years in the competition so it is going to be incredibly tough for Hull to overcome them on Saturday. The Gunners last defeat in the FA Cup came on 16th February 2013, when they were beaten by Blackburn Rovers at the Emirates.

Previous meetings

Hull's FA Cup dreams have been torn from them by Arsenal in recent years and they will be hoping that they can finally end their torid run against the club that famously came from behind to beat them two seasons ago. Curtis Davies and James Chester put Hull 2-0 up in the 2014 FA Cup final, only for Santi Cazorla, Laurent Koscielny and Aaron Ramsey to pull goals back to win 3-2 after extra-time.

The two sides then met in the third round last season too. On that occassion it was a more routine 2-0 victory for Arsenal, with Per Mertesacker and Alexis Sanchez grabbing the goals at the Emirates. Will Hull finally come out on top this time then? Only time will tell. 

A chance to rest players?

Both sides may see this game as a chance to rest a few players, especially considering Arsenal are right in the mix in the title race and with Barcelona to come in midweek. Hull however, have a period of 10 games in 33 days, and with promotion hopes they may choose to rest players for this cup fixture ahead of their upcoming league games. 

Arséne Wenger has confirmed that he'll play a strong side, but it could be one which sees the likes of Mesut Özil rested like he was in Arsenal's fourth round victory over Burnley. Sánchez may well be rested too with Barcelona in mind. The fact that the Gunners can rest players now means that they're beginning to have the bulk of their squad back from injury, and that will be crucial in the final months of the campaign. 

Danny Welbeck may well be given his first start after injury following his goal against Leicester off the bench, whilst Mohamed Elneny may also feature with either Francis Coquelin or Aaron Ramsey potentially being rested. The Gunners once again have a wealth of options in the wide areas, with Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joel Campbell all available. It will therefore be interesting to see who Wenger chooses in his starting XI and whether any of the normal names miss out. 

The defence could also be an interesting combination. Laurent Koscielny is fit despite missing the second-half against Leicester, but Gabriel (hamstring) remains out injured. Calum Chambers may get an opportunity to play again after scoring against Burnley in the previous round, and putting in some impressive displays thus far in 2016. 

David Ospina may also get a chance in goal as 'cup keeper' whilst first-choice, Petr Cech is more than likely to watch from the substitutes' bench. 

As for Hull, they will be without Chuba Akpom and Isaac Hayden who are both ineligible due to being on-loan from Saturday's hosts Arsenal. Meanwhile Nick Powell is set to be given his debut for the Tigers after joining on-loan from Manchester United. 16-year-old Josh Tymon is also set to be included in the squad.

Manager Steve Bruce has confirmed there will be "sweeping changes" to his side due to his side's hectic schedule, and therefore Arsenal's chances of winning at the weekend are enhanced. 

Verdict

Arsenal's unbeaten run in the FA Cup has been fantastic, and that doesn't look set to end against a Hull side that could well be weakened on Saturday afternoon. Regardless to say Hull will be eager to get their own back for the defeats they've suffered in the last two seasons and Steve Bruce will be doing his upmost best to ensure his team don't roll over easy.

The Gunners have already faced Championship opposition this season, and it wasn't all plain sailing against Burnley. Abel Hernandez is one of the top scorers in the Championship this season and he'll look to snap up any opportunities that fall his way. 

It is no surprise to see Hull City top of their respective league; their squad is one which is more than capable of beating a Premier League side with the majority of their players staying following their relegation. However Arsenal will more than likely prove too powerful for the visitors on Saturday, as they look to reach the quarter-finals and push on for the rest of the season.