Goals from Aaron Ramsey and Lukas Podolski fired Arsenal to a 3-0 win at Hull City to strengthen their grip on fourth place in the Barclays Premier League.
Ramsey, starting his first game since Boxing Day after overcoming a thigh injury, netted his ninth league goal of the season to give Arsenal the lead at the KC Stadium before setting up Podolski to double his side's advantage before the break. The Germany forward netted his fourth goal in two games early in the second half after Ramsey had been denied by Steve Harper.
Hull, who started the game brightly, struggled against a confident Arsenal team in the second half and could have gone further behind had Olivier Giroud and Per Mertesacker converted chances. Arsenal's victory ensures Everton cannot overtake them this weekend irrespective of their result against Manchester United. Hull, meanwhile, remain six points clear of the relegation zone with four matches remaining.
Nikica Jelavic for Hull and Podolski went close after a quiet opening 15 minutes, but both were denied by good saves. With 25 minutes played, Shane Long missed an excellent chance and the visitors made him pay six minutes later. A crisp passing move culminated in Mesut Ozil, back after a hamstring injury, combining with Santi Cazorla to find Ramsey, and the Wales midfielder found the far corner with a low finish.
Hull went close to levelling four minutes later as Jake Livermore picked up a loose ball and unleashed a long-range strike that beat Wojciech Szczesny, but struck a post before bouncing to safety.
Arsenal doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time through Podolski. The German timed his run into the penalty area perfectly to lash home after Ramsey had cushioned Giroud's cross on his chest.
Arsene Wenger's men made it 3-0 nine minutes after the break. Cazorla teed up Ramsey on the edge of the area, his effort was saved by Harper with a foot, but the ball fell to Podolski and he calmly fired home from seven yards.
The visitors were very nearly gifted a fourth in the 64th minute as Harper misjudged a backpass from James Chester. Giroud blocked the goalkeeper's clearance and struck the crossbar from a tight angle.
Mertesacker was next to go close as he met a 75th-minute free-kick from Cazorla, but his looping header was just too high. Ramsey missed a late chance to net his second, but it did not matter as Arsenal completed a comfortable win over their FA Cup final opponents and took another step towards securing UEFA Champions League football for next season.
Hull City manager Steve Bruce: “Their first goal, you have to say, is one of true quality. You look at it from the passing and movement to the finish - everything about it.
"Up until half an hour, we were arguably the better team, we've had one or two chances. Against the Arsenal or any of the big teams you have to take them. You're not going to get hatfuls of them."
"Then, all of a sudden, you're 2-0 down at half-time. You're playing well and you're 2-0 down and against the bigger teams like that it's very difficult chasing it."
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "We looked dangerous to score goals again. We had a few away games where we looked toothless but our combination game and speed was back. We looked like that we can score.
"In the Premier League you're always a bit apprehensive before every game, you want your team to perform as well as they can. Arsenal's overall display pleased the Frenchman, with the second half particularly impressing the 64-year-old.
"We kept a clean sheet and scored three goals, overall the performance was good. We were tested in the first half, [it was] a very physical game but we responded we great movement and scored. The second half we controlled well, (and) overall it was a convincing win."
|03 May 2014||v Aston Villa (A)|
|11 May 2014||v Everton (H)|
|06 May 2014||v Man Utd (A)|
|26 Apr 2014||v Fulham (A)|
|20 Dec 2014||v Hull (H)|
|26 Dec 2014||v Sunderland (A)|