Alexis Sanchez joined Romelu Lukaku at the summit of the race for the Golden Boot as he recorded a brace that helped Arsenal pip Hull City at the Emirates.
A resurgent Hull City side came crashing down to earth as they fell prey to a 2-0 defeat against Arsenal at the Emirates. Despite putting in a resolute performance, Marcos Silva’s men ended up second best.
Chilean attacker Alexis Sanchez scored both the goals for the hosts, as they put their woeful run of form behind them to pick up three points against the relegation candidates. There was controversy surrounding both goals, but Arsene Wenger’s side will take the victory, no questions asked.
Take a look at the talking points:
Arsenal end a tumultuous run of form
The Gunners were on quite a roll for several weeks since the second gameweek of the campaign, but have been faltering since December with speculation continuing to mount on Wenger’s future at the club.
Arsenal did not have the best of form going into the game as they were on the back of consecutive defeats against Watford and Chelsea – severely denting their title hopes – more so with teams around them continuing to pick up wins.
After picking up three points on Saturday, Arsenal reached the half century park for points this season alongside rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Manchester City could, however, overtake the two North London clubs should they prevail in their Monday night game against Bournemouth.
Sanchez continues to deliver playing as the focal point
Alexis Sanchez raced up to 17 goals this season with an all-important brace against Hull City. Arsenal have arguably been in contention for the title this term because of the Chilean, and generally tend to win when he is in song.
Like most games this season, Sanchez was tireless until the final whistle and kept pressing the defenders as well as the midfielders with an aim to win the ball back. His movement, too, was second to none, and he deservedly walked home with the match ball.
Kieran Gibbs avoids red after last-ditch challenge on Lazar Markovic
Early in the second-half Gibbs committed a foul to the back of Lazar Markovic, who was set to have a one-on-one opportunity with Petr Cech in the Arsenal goal. Oumar Niasse’s flick perfectly found the former Liverpool attacker, and he was stopped in his tracks by the Arsenal defender.
Seeing no outfield player behind Gibbs, it looked like referee Mark Clattenburg was set to hand him his marching orders. However, the Englishman was only shown a yellow card by referee and the Arsenal full-back revealed after the game the reasoning behind the decision.
According to the BBC, Gibbs said: “I took a chance with the challenge on Markovic. The ref said the ball was going away from goal.”
When asked if Gibbs should have been sent off, Hull boss Marco Silva said: “Yes. It is true. Markovic was going towards the goal.”
Hands played a crucial role in both of Arsenal’s goals
The first goal was scored in a controversial manner as a scrappy exchange in the Hull penalty area saw the ball ricochet off the hand of Sanchez straight into the goal. According to the FA laws, for it to be a deliberate handball, there must be “movement of the hand towards the ball” and the “distance between opponent and the ball” should be considered.
Sanchez did not deliberately use his hand to score and there was no space and time for him to take a touch and nudge the ball into the net with his body. It led to mixed opinions among the footballing pundits, but as per the FA rules, the goal rightfully stood.
For the second strike, Elden Jakupovic found himself in unknown territory as Alexis Sanchez picked up Lucas Perez with a lofted ball from the edge of the area. Perez headed the ball towards the goal, but Sam Clucas stopped it from going in using his hands.
He was deservedly shown a red card while Sanchez calmly capitalised from the penalty spot to seal the three points for the Gunners.
The empty seats at the Emirates could be a cause of concern for the Arsenal hierarchy
Saturday’s game against Hull City saw a dismal return as there were a number of empty seats at kick-off. The reason for the lacklustre turnout was uncertain as it could have been due to the club’s poor run of form or because of the board’s decision to continue with Wenger.
Evening Standard journalist Layth Yousif, who was in attendance at the Emirates, said that he was shocked by the number of empty seats at kick-off, and also said the fans were not as vocal as they have been in the past.
A victory would certainly have enriched the spirit among the Arsenal faithful, and the club will be hoping to see them back for their next Premier League home match against Leicester City. Prior to that, the Gunners will be hoping to play in front of a full house as they host Bayern Munich in a Round of 16 tie on the 7th of March in the Champions League.