LUKAS PODOLSKI SCORED twice as Arsenal claimed an important 3-0 victory at Hull City today in his side’s quest for a top-four finish and FA Cup success.
In a preview of next month’s FA Cup final at Wembley, Arsenal scored an important psychological edge over Steve Bruce’s team after Aaron Ramsey shot them in front.
German forward Podolski then added two goals in the space of eight minutes, either side of half-time.
Following on from his two-goal display against West Ham United in mid-week, it meant that in the space of five days, he has doubled his tally of league goals for the season to eight.
Ramsey, playing his fourth game in two weeks after a three-month lay-off with a thigh injury, made a telling impact with a goal and an assist as Arsenal scored twice in the final 15 minutes of the opening half to take a strong grip on the game.
The second goal was spectacular, if contentious, as Hull claimed that they should have been awarded a free-kick deep in Arsenal territory after Nikica Jelavic went down under pressure from Mikel Arteta.
Referee Jon Moss disagreed, however, and allowed the Gunners to launch a devastating counter-attack.
It ended with Olivier Giroud lofting over a cross that Ramsey chested into the path of Podolski, who buried a superb left-foot volley in the back of the Hull goal from 15 yards.
The opening goal, after 31 minutes, had been almost as impressive and featured a characteristic flowing move from Arsene Wenger’s side.
The move started on the halfway line and saw Ramsey spray the ball wide to Mesut Ozil; another Arsenal player who is fit again after injury.
His pass to Santi Cazorla was helped on to Ramsey, who steered his ninth league goal of the season past Steve Harper in the Hull goal.
- Livermore hits the post -
The opening goal had been coming, with Harper called upon to keep out Podolski’s 18-yard strike a few minutes earlier, although Hull had enjoyed more possession until that point.
Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was forced to show good handling in the 14th minute, diving smartly to keep out a first-time strike from Jelavic.
A goal behind, Hull had their best chance yet when David Meyler set up Jake Livermore for an 18-yard strike that beat Szczesny but rebounded to safety via the foot of the goalkeeper’s right-hand post.
Just before the second Arsenal goal, Shane Long should have done better with a mistimed header from a Liam Rosenior cross that Szczesny saved with ease.
Hull substitute Matty Fryatt, on for the injured Long, had an early opportunity soon after the restart, but Tom Huddlestone’s pass took an unkind bounce as he aimed to head past Szczesny.
Any lingering uncertainty about the destiny of the three points was removed after 54 minutes when Podolski claimed his second goal, and Arsenal’s third.
Once again the build-up was intricate, culminating in Cazorla picking out Ramsey from the left-hand byline.
The Welsh international’s 15-yard shot was well saved by the outstretched boot of goalkeeper Harper, but the rebound fell kindly for Podolski to convert from close range.
Arsenal should have scored a bizarre fourth goal after 64 minutes when Harper misjudged a back-pass, gifting the ball to Giroud, who struck the underside of the bar from practically on the byline.
Arsenal centre-back Per Mertesacker headed over from a Cazorla free-kick in the 76th minute, while Ramsey, Huddlestone and Fryatt all saw late efforts well handled by their respective opposition goalkeepers.