Arsenal earn spurs in time for FA Cup replay
KINGSTON UPON HULL
AARON Ramsey said Arsenal will resume their FA Cup defence at Hull City tonight with confidence restored following Saturday's 2-2 draw with north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Arsene Wenger's side had come in for heavy criticism after back-to-back defeats had seen them fall away in the Premier League title race, prompting Alexis Sanchez to claim that some of his team-mates lacked the hunger to be champions.
But the way the Gunners recovered after falling behind to claim a point at Spurs, despite being reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of Francis Coquelin, offered signs that they have the resolve to end the season on a high.
And the prospect of becoming the first team to win the FA Cup for a third successive season since the 19th century will provide an additional incentive to overcome Championship promotion hopefuls Hull in the fifth-round replay.
Welsh midfielder Ramsey, the scorer of his side's opening goal at White Hart Lane with a clever back-heel, said: "I think we needed a performance like that after the couple of defeats that we've had.
"We needed to come here and get something and we managed to do that with 10 men."
Arsenal centre-back Per Mertesacker echoed Ramsey's views, albeit in more sarcastic fashion.
Said the Germany international: "For a team with low confidence and no belief, we played pretty well.
"We just concentrate on ourselves and that's the only way to compete and win games."
The optimism generated by the performance against Tottenham will help Arsenal's cause.
But they remain without a win in their last five games in all competitions - a run that began with the scoreless draw with Hull in the first meeting between the two teams.
Coquelin will be suspended for the trip to the KC Stadium and goalkeeper Petr Cech and centre-back Laurent Koscielny will both again be missing through injury.
Hull boss Steve Bruce, a three-time FA Cup winner as a player in the 1990s with Manchester United, is keen not to jeopardise the club's bid to clinch an immediate return to the Premier League after last season's relegation.
Hull are third in the Championship, three points off an automatic promotion place after suffering a first defeat in six games in losing 1-0 at Birmingham City in their most recent game last week.
"We've got to pick ourselves up from that result and we know we've got a big FA Cup game against Arsenal to look forward to," said skipper Michael Dawson, whose side lost 3-2 to Arsenal in the 2014 final.