Arsene Wenger described this week as a “difficult” one after the back-to-back defeats for Arsenal in the Premier League.
Having bemoaned Chelsea’s contentious opening goal against the Gunners last weekend, luck was on Wenger's side as a flatter-than-usual Emirates Stadium atmosphere witnessed Alexis Sanchez guide them to a hard-fought 2-0 win over Hull City.
Alexis appeared to bundle the ball over the line with his hand for the opening goal on 34 minutes following a fluid attacking move involving Mesut Ozil and Kieran Gibbs. The latter was rewarded with a surprise start, but was given the runaround by Hull’s best player Lazar Markovic on several occasions, and it is likely that Nacho Monreal will be back in position for Wednesday’s Champions League clash away to Bayern Munich.
Markovic almost found success down Arsenal’s left-hand side in the second half and was hauled down by Gibbs when through on goal shortly after the break. The left-back can count himself lucky that he was only booked for the incident as further luck came Wenger’s way.
Hull looked continually dangerous on the counter attack and only a better final ball was the main difference between them pulling a goal back.
The library-esque atmosphere during the opening stages in north London can be put down to a week of social media discontent and murmurings around the future of Arsenal’s longest-serving manager. Under-pressure Wenger, serving the final game of his four-match touchline ban, watched the edgy encounter from his seat in the directors' box - a place that he could become even more familiar with if he decides to take a back-seat role at the club next season.
Patience was key against Marco Silva’s outfit. The Portuguese guided Olympiakos to a 3-2 victory at the Emirates last season and his counter-attacking approach could have seen a repeat of the previous two league games when Arsenal’s midfield and defence collapsed when they were needed most.
Arsenal’s upcoming game in Munich will represent an even bigger test of their mental qualities and it would be typical of Wenger’s men to force a surprise result at the Allianz Arena against all the odds, but they will need a drastically better performance than this.
They’ll need an improved Ozil to flourish in the No.10 role and Alexis to continue his fine European form, but anything is possible with this Arsenal team whose inconsistent qualities make them the Premier League’s biggest enigma right now.