Before this season had even started, Hull City were being roundly written off as the team nailed on for relegation.
The club’s summer transfer activity was circumspect and, as a result, their promotion-winning manager, Steve Bruce, resigned his post, leaving the club rudderless with just weeks to go before the season started.
The fans’ relationship with owner Assem Allam became increasingly fractious and, in Mike Phelan, they had an assistant manager making the step up to the hot seat for the first time. All the ingredients were there for a pointless, goal-conceding bloodbath.
Instead, Hull have displayed a tremendous resilience and, far from being demotivated by the summer turmoil, have proved positively galvanized by it.
What looked a month ago as though it may be an absolute walkover for the Arsenal is now shaping up to be a real battle, particularly with the Tigers setting their stall out as a well-organised, ultra-disciplined defensive unit.
Arsenal are really going to have to be on top of their game in order to come away from Hull with all three points, much more so than they have been in recent weeks. The statistics suggest that the Tigers will sit deep, squeeze the space, and invite Arsenal to over-commit before making the quick transition to attack.
To combat this, Arsenal will need to keep the pace of passing and movement high, and be ruthlessly efficient in front of goal when the opportunity comes. They will also have to be much more alert defensively than they have been, with the deep-lying midfielders in much closer contact with the defence.
Here are all the key statistics you need to know as the two teams prepare for today’s Premier League clash:
- Of Hull’s five goals so far this season, three have come from set pieces, and two from open play.
- By contrast, Arsenal have scored four goals from open play, two from set pieces, and two from the penalty spot.
- Hull lead the league in the number of long balls attempted per game, with 85. Arsenal, in contrast, have attempted an average of 53 per game.
- Arsenal have attempted 21 crosses per game so far this term, to Hull’s 13 – which is the lowest in the league.
- For the most part, Hull focus their play through the middle of the park, with 67 per cent of shots attempted coming from the middle.
- The stats show that, on average, 38 per cent of the play in league matches, takes place in Hull’s final third – the highest concentration in the league. By contrast, only 26 per cent of the play takes place in Arsenal’s final third.
- Hull have attempted 11.3 shots per league game, with a passing success rate of 80.2 per cent. Arsenal have averaged 12.3 shots per league game, with a passing success rate of 82.4 per cent.