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English Premiership

Arsenal face Hull of a test

LONDON, December 18 – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger knows complaints about the fixture list are likely to fall on deaf ears if his side lose further ground at the top of the Premier League by failing to defeat Hull.
CARLOS_VELA_The Frenchman has been complaining about the schedule due to the fact his side have played two away fixtures ahead of this latest game, while Hull have not featured competitively since December 12.

Premier League officials have since defended their fixture planning, though Wenger’s annoyance is understandable as legs begin to tire ahead of a busy Christmas schedule, with Arsenal eight points behind leaders Chelsea.

Were the Gunners to drop points at home to Hull on Saturday, it would cast fresh doubt on the title challenge of an Arsenal side who are set to be without club captain Cesc Fabregas because of a hamstring problem.

The Spain midfielder joins an injury list that already includes Denilson, Tomas Rosicky, Robin van Persie, Nicklas Bendtner and Gael Clichy.

It is encouraging news for a Hull side looking to repeat last season’s 2-1 win at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.

Abou Diaby, Arsenal’s French midfielder, has underlined the need for his side to find a new resilience following Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at Burnley.

"It is very tough in the Premier League, but the most important thing is now to focus on the next game against Hull," he said.

"It is very important to win on Saturday because we have to get closer to Chelsea and that’s why we are very disappointed with the result against Burnley.

"We couldn’t take a big step, we dropped points and it is very frustrating."

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Arsenal’s last home outing ended in a 2-0 win over Stoke and Aaron Ramsey, who scored in that victory, is expected to take Fabregas’s place against a Hull team who will kick-off just a point above the relegation zone.

But Hull’s Dean Marney has insisted history can repeat itself, even though Phil Brown’s side have since discovered the harsh realities of life in the Premier League since last season’s stunning success in north London.

After this fixture, Hull face champions Manchester United and midfielder Marney said: "They’re going to be really tough games and anything you get from them is a bonus.

"But we proved last season when we went to Arsenal and won that we’re capable of getting results. There’s a little bit of confidence back in the squad and we’re all looking forward to games now."

Nigeria international Seyi Olofinjana is pushing for a recall as Hull struggle to cope without five million pounds record signing Jimmy Bullard, out until the end of January as he recovers from his latest knee injury.

Marney added: "There’s competition for places and that can only be good. We’ve got a lot of quality midfielders here and we all know we need to be bang at it in every game."

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