Podolski double sees off Hull and boosts Arsenal’s Champions League chances
16:02 20 April 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Hull City 0 Arsenal 3
Lukas Podolski grabbed his second brace in successive games as Arsenal beat Hull to strengthen their grip on fourth place in the Premier League.
The impressive Aaron Ramsey put the Gunners ahead in the 31st minute with his first goal since November before setting up Podolski to make it 2-0 just before the interval.
And the German forward all but made the points safe with his second of the game early in the second half as Arsenal went on to equal their best away win of the campaign.
The Gunners started slowly – as they have tended to do all season – with the defence often looking uncomfortable under pressure from the Tigers’ front pairing of Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic.
Jelavic almost put his side ahead in the 15th minute, wriggling away from Per Mertesacker to fire a low shot on the turn that Wojciech Szczesny got down to tip behind.
James Chester headed over from the subsequent corner, while Long could have done better when he eased between Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal to collect Jake Livermore’s pass, but miscued his finish.
Aside from a Podolski attempt that was beaten away by Steve Harper, the visitors offered precisely nothing in the first half-hour and the opening goal came completely against the run of play.
For the first time in the match, Arsenal put together a slick passing move – initiated by Ramsey, who burst into the box as Santi Cazorla laid off Mesut Ozil’s ball and met it on his right foot, slotting past Harper.
Hull were unlucky not to equalise soon afterwards as Livermore’s 25-yard drive rattled the post with Szczesny stretching frantically, while Long bundled another chance straight at the goalkeeper.
But the Gunners doubled their lead with a counter-attacking goal on the stroke of half-time as Olivier Giroud made space out wide and crossed for Ramsey, who chested the ball down for Podolski to arrow a first-time volley into the bottom corner.
The home side did their best to manufacture a glimmer of hope at the start of the second half, with substitute Matt Fryatt unable to finish off a half-chance created by Tom Huddlestone.
But any notion of a comeback was scuppered on 54 minutes as Cazorla cut the ball back for Ramsey, who was denied by the legs of Harper – only for Podolski to tuck away the rebound and make it 3-0.
Giroud almost made it four, pouncing when Harper delayed over a Liam Rosenior back-pass and the Gunners striker attempted to score from a tight angle, but his effort bounced down off the crossbar.
With Arsenal now displaying something of a swagger as they stroked the ball around, it only remained to be seen whether they could add further goals.
Substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain did his best to create some, winning a free-kick that Mertesacker headed onto the roof of the net and galloping away on the right to find Ramsey, who was denied by Harper.
At the other end, Szczesny produced saves to keep out Huddlestone and Fryatt as Arsenal emerged comfortable winners in the rehearsal for next month’s meeting between the sides at Wembley.
Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Arteta, Ramsey; Cazorla, Ozil (Flamini 61), Podolski (Sanogo 84); Giroud (Oxlade-Chamberlain 74).