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Nic Ladds 18th Dec 2009 - 17:22

Nowhere to hide for Arsene if Hull haunt Arsenal again

With Arsenal's ability to launch a serious title challenge brought in to question last week, Arsene Wenger blamed the fixture list but there will be nowhere to hide if his 1/5 Arsenal side don't get all three points at home to Hull who are 14/1 for victory.

After Arsenal's 1-1 draw with Burnley, it was just a matter of what excuse would Wenger offer rather than deficiencies of his team as to why they couldn't get three points, and the fixtures list was the object for his aggravation on this occasion, but with Hull having won once in 22 away games, anything but a victory this weekend will probably leave a choice of blaming God or the way the grass was cut.

Hull stunned Arsenal last year with a 2-1 victory at the Emirates and the odds of this happening again by that score are 33/1 which given the Tiger's away form looks about right and even a draw at 5/1 looks a tough ask for the away side.

The Gunners are mourning the loss of Cesc Fabregas, the man who is responsible for nearly everything good Arsenal do and it remains to be seen whether he will be missed this weekend or not and with Robin van Persie a long-term absentee, Andrei Arshavin will have to step up and pretty much fill in both their roles and it is no surprise the Russian is favourite at 10/3 to score first.

Eduardo (4/1 for first goal) and Carlos Vela (9/2) are yet to convince as able deputies for the Dutchman and with Samir Nasri (6/1) and Tomas Rosicky (15/2) seeming to take time getting back to full form it looks like set pieces could be Arsenal's main threat and as a result Thomas Vermaelen and William Gallas are both as short as 16/1 to bag the first goal of the game.

Hull will go in to this game with a nothing to lose, everything to gain attitude and Geovanni (12/1) could be their main threat from set pieces, while Stephen Hunt has scored a few this term and could be of interest at 8/1 to score anytime or 25/1 for first goal as Arsenal have kept just two clean sheets in 10 games so it is fair to think that Phil Brown's side can at least score.

Another stat worth noting is that barring games against Chelsea, the Gunners have won 10 of their last 12 at the Emirates, each by at least a two goal margin and lowly Hull could be the next team to add to the list, so backing scores like 2-0 (4/1), 3-1 (17/2) and 4-1 (14/1) look along the right track, while another 1-1 draw is big at 10/1 while punters may also be drawn to Arsenal -2 goals at 8/5.

For those who like a fun bet, Hull last year became the only team to concede first at the Emirates and go on to win and this feat can be backed this time around at 28/1.

Wenger will no doubt have something to moan about this week but the reality of things is that Arsenal haven't kicked on from when they've recorded good results and with his side now eight points off leaders Chelsea, questions will continue to be thrown up about whether they have the squad to mount a serious title challenge, the short answer to which is no.

They should however be able to see off Hull but it may not be as convincing as it would have been with Fabregas and van Persie leading the line. Arshavin looks the bet for first goal at 10/3 while a wager on Hunt anytime at 8/1 should ensure you have a live interest the whole game, but should the Gunners fail to get three points it will confirm what most think - Arsenal are not capable of mounting a serious title challenge. Talk your way out of that one Arsene.


Stephen Hunt to score anytime - 8/1


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