ARSENAL face Hull in the opening FA Cup match on Saturday. Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) shares his views.
Arsenal v Hull | Saturday 12:45 | BT Sport 2
Come May this fixture might just be a reference point to the crowning of Arsenal as Premier League champions. Back in May 2014 these sides met in the FA Cup Final and despite being 2-0 down early the Gunners came back and won the trophy.
That was their first trophy in nine years and from that they defended their crown last season and are now deep in the title race for the Premier League this season.
This is in fact the third consecutive year these sides have met in the FA Cup but the first in that spell when in different divisions. That may prove telling on Saturday.
As widely reported, it’s now three years this week since Arsenal lost an FA Cup tie. That was against Championship side Blackburn but I can’t see history repeating itself on Saturday as the Gunners take on a second tier side.
Yes, it’s likely Arsene Wenger will tinker with his side a little with a Champions League fixture against Barcelona imminent next week but there should enough strength in depth in the squad to have enough in the tank.
In another poor indictment of the competition, Championship side Hull will also re-jig their 11 and play with a number of irregular starters. Despite reaching the final two years ago I’ve always felt Steve Bruce doesn’t care about this trophy.
Let’s pay respect to Hull though. To suffer the pain of relegation last season yet sit top of the Championship two thirds of the way is a great achievement. Think back to last season when the relegated teams Cardiff and Fulham just couldn’t cope with the drop.
Despite being top, Hull have won just seven of their 16 away league games this season and indeed have lost four of their last seven road matches.
Put that up against the fact Arsenal have lost just twice domestically at home this season and indeed have succumbed just once in 40 matches against lower league sides in the FA Cup under Arsene Wenger and it’s a big ask for Hull.
Arsenal look about the right price at 4/7 to win here so I’ll back them +1.25 on the Asian Handicap at 11/8 with 888 Sport. A one goal win will see me lose just half my stake but anything more will ensure a full payout.
I’ll top that up with a wee poke on a 2-0 win at 13/2 with Bet Victor. Arsenal have conceded just eight goals at home this season in the league and remain a fairly frugal bunch.
Arsenal v Hull – Arsenal -1.25 Asian Handicap (11/8 888 Sport)
Arsenal v Hull – Arsenal to win 2-0 (13/2 BetVictor)
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