KINGSTON UPON HULL: Alexis Sanchez scored twice as Arsenal secured three consecutive Premier League wins for the first time in nine months with a 4-1 victory at Hull City yesterday. Sanchez could even afford to miss a first-half penalty at the KCom Stadium where Hull were reduced to 10 men-as the Gunners continued their recovery following a slow start to the season which saw them take only a point from their first two games.
Sanchez now has six goals in five appearances against the Tigers, whose fine early season form has deserted them, not helped by the club’s on-going take-over talks and continued uncertainty over the future of caretaker manager Mike Phelan, who is yet to accept an offer to take the role full-time. Arsenal’s problems from the penalty spot continued as Sanchez missed the second of the four they’ve been awarded this season after Hull defender Jake Livermore was ordered off shortly before halftime for handball. Theo Walcott’s deftly chipped finish 10 minutes into the second half as the forward sprinted onto a perfectly weighted backheel from Alex Iwobi ensured there was to be no stirring comeback from the hosts.
To their credit, Hull made light of their numerical disadvantage and pulled a goal back when Robert Snodgrass converted a penalty after Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech had been penalised for bringing down Dieumerci Mbokani. Sanchez made sure of the points four minutes later, powering home his side’s third after Walcott took the Chile forward’s pass in his stride, only to see his shot blocked by Eldin Jakupovic, the rebound falling invitingly for Arsenal’s outstanding performer. Granit Xhaka, a second-half substitute, provided Wenger with a reminder of his talents with a stoppage- time fourth, the summer arrival form Borussia Monchengladbach finding the top corner in impressive style from 30 yards after accepting a pass from Mohamed Elneny.
Arsenal should have had more than a 17th minute strike by Sanchez to show for their first-half dominance. Jakupovic managed only to apply a weak parry to a driven cross from Walcott into the path of Iwobi, whose shot from 12 yards found the net via a minimal though significant touch from Sanchez, who was lurking six yards out.
Sanchez had already fired over from close range from Walcott’s inviting cut-back, and Jakupovic produced a stunning save low to his right to block Hector Bellerin’s powerfully struck shot, with Mesut Ozil blazing the rebound over. The fortunes of Jakupovic continued on an upward curve after Livermore’s straight red card for blocking a goal-bound Francis Coquelin shot five minutes before the break.
With regular penalty-taker Santi Cazorla-who has scored his last seven form the spot-looking on, Sanchez saw his effort saved by Jakupovic low to his right. Hull, who became the first club since Aston Villa eight years ago to name an unchanged line-up in their first five Premier League games, rarely looked likely to end their 101-year wait for a home victory against the Londoners. They created only one moment of danger in the first-half, Snodgrass shooting tamely at the recalled Cech from 15 yards at the culmination of a neat fourman move. Walcott’s first goal since the opening weekend defeat by Liverpool ensured Sanchez wasn’t left to ponder on his penalty miss for too long. And although Abel Hernandez sent an acrobatic kick against the bar, Hull posed only a sporadic threat until the late penalty from Snodgrass as the visitors made it 26 consecutive games without defeat against newly promoted teams. — AFP