Arsenal frustrated by Hull City in FA Cup goalless draw
Outstanding display by goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic keeps the Tigers in the frame for fifth-round replay against the Gunners
FA Cup holders Arsenal were left frustrated in their efforts to warm up for Tuesday’s Champions League meeting with Barcelona with a win as their fifth-round meeting with Hull City ended goalless at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
An outstanding display by Hull goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic meant Steve Bruce’s under-strength side retain hope of avenging their 2014 FA Cup final defeat by Arsenal and so preventing Arsene Wenger’s side becoming the first team to win the competition three years in succession since the 1880s.
The draw also ensured the strength of Wenger’s belief that replays are an integral part of the FA Cup will be tested just days after he spoke out in support of such matches.
Veteran French manager Wenger, in charge of Arsenal since 1996, made his remarks following reports the Football Association were considering ditching replays in the competition to ease the fixture schedule, a proposal that drew support from Hull boss Bruce.
“No not especially good news but Hull defended very well,” Wenger told BT Sport when asked about a replay. “We were not incisive or accurate enough in our passing in the final third.”
He added: “If we have no injuries, we can cope with the fixtures. I think FA Cup replays is a particularity of the English rules and you have to respect that.
“The Hull goalkeeper was outstanding and kept them in the game”
Hull manager Steve Bruce said: “I don’t know when we’re going to play [the replay]. That’s added to the fixture pile-up we’ve got. We made 10 changes and we rode our luck a bit, but the team deserved it for the spirit and the 100 per cent effort they gave. It bodes well when I see the strength in depth we’ve got, because we’re going to need it.
“Eldin [Jakupovic] has come in and he’s produced some great saves and we’re delighted for him because there have been some dark moments over the past couple of years.
Jakupovic, on his great save to deny Joel Campbell, said: “It was a great free kick but I made a save to my left. I touched it with my fingers onto the post and was happy the ball didn’t go in.”
Neither manager wanted the burden of an extra game at this stage of the season, with Arsenal pushing for the Premier League title and Hull top of England’s second-tier Championship.
But the Gunners, who also beat Hull in the third round of last season’s FA Cup, paid the price for their failure to turn territorial dominance into goals.
The feeling that the priority for both clubs lay elsewhere was confirmed by the two line-ups.
With Barcelona due to visit for the first leg of the Champions League round-of-16 tie, Wenger dipped deep into his squad, making nine changes to the side that started last weekend’s Premier League meeting with Leicester City.
Bruce went even further, making 10 changes to his side in a bid to protect key players ahead of the midweek league trip to Ipswich Town when Hull will attempt to strengthen their bid to make an immediate return to the Premier League.
Wenger’s decision to ring the changes for his 100th FA Cup tie meant Danny Welbeck made his first Arsenal start in 308 days, having marked his first-team return with the last-minute goal that brought victory over Leicester.