Arsenal average across the board in unwanted FA Cup draw vs. Hull
With Hull embroiled in a promotion battle and Arsenal targeting their first Premier League title since 2004, the last thing either team needed on Saturday was a draw, but a 0-0 final means a replay at the KC Stadium.
The visitors had goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic to thank for keeping a clean sheet. He made an outstanding save from a Joel Campbell free kick, a brilliant stop of Danny Welbeck and a total of nine saves overall -- bringing to mind the night a few weeks ago when Southampton's Fraser Forster put in a similar man-of-the-match performance against the Gunners in a 0-0 draw on Feb. 2.
Truthfully though, Arsenal's finishing wasn't up to scratch. It's been an issue all season, and again on Saturday there was a lack of decisiveness when they did find themselves in sight of the goal.
But they are sure to be displeased at referee Mike Dean, who denied them two obvious penalties. In the first half, Mohamed Elneny's shot came off the arm of Alex Bruce, who clearly moved it toward the ball; and in the second period, a foul on Calum Chambers was overlooked even though David Meyler won the ball by taking the Arsenal man's legs from underneath him.
But on this day, even if a penalty had been given, it wouldn't have been a surprise to see a tame shot saved by Jakupovic, just to add to the Arsenal frustration. A replay awaits, adding to the already testing schedules of both sides.
As for the player ratings, it was an average game, with nobody truly outstanding but the Hull keeper, so ratings will reflect that.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK David Ospina, 6 -- He had almost nothing to do. His most memorable moment was standing still waiting to punch the ball from a set piece, only to see Laurent Koscielny defend decisively and head it away.
DF Calum Chambers, 6 -- Got well down the right at times, combined nicely with Campbell, but obviously lacks the zip of Hector Bellerin.
DF Per Mertesacker, 6 -- A game in which he was almost completely untroubled, a player of his experience was easily able to cope with what little Hull had to throw at Arsenal.
DF Laurent Koscielny, 6 -- Perhaps fortunate to escape a second yellow from a referee as card happy as Dean for an unnecessary slide late in the second half, but like Mertesacker, was given little to worry about from the opposition attack.
DF Kieran Gibbs, 6 -- He chased up and down the left side all day but seems to freeze when in the final third. He could really do with adding some variety to his play in that area of the pitch.
MF Mathieu Flamini, 6 -- At times the farthest man forward for Arsenal, but pretty much ineffective in those positions. Passed it slowly, never adding any drive from midfield.
MF Mohamed Elneny, 6 -- The Egyptian showed a bit more ambition in this game than in his previous outing, and some of his passing was quite nice. Still looks as if he's getting used to the physical side of English football.
MF Alex Iwobi, 7 -- He stood out because on only his ninth appearance for Arsenal, he tried to make things happen. He looks for one-twos around the opposition penalty area a little too often in crowded areas, but you have to like that he's willing to take some risks.
MF Joel Campbell, 6 -- Unlucky not to score with an excellent free kick, but that his other best moment came with a sliding tackle showed he didn't quite have the attacking effect that Arsenal would have liked.
MF Danny Welbeck, 6 -- He was bright at times, but on his first start since last April, we saw the rustiness that accompanies an absence like that. The minutes should do him good though.
FW Theo Walcott, 6 -- Had chances to score but didn't take them, but his overall game was quite positive in parts.
MF Alexis Sanchez, 5 -- He was worryingly bad when he came on for Welbeck in the 67th minute. It's as though the Sanchez that got injured went to Chile and was replaced by his identical -- but much worse at football -- twin.
FW Olivier Giroud, 6 -- replaced Campbell in the 67th minute. Crafted a great chance for fellow sub Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with what's fast becoming a trademark knock-down, but other than that had little sight of goal himself.
MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, NR -- On for Iwobi in the 73rd minute. Fluffed his lines in front of goal, and beyond that had little impact on the game.