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Gunners stay clear at the top

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04 Dec 2013 22:17:05

Gunners stay clear at the top

Nicklas Bendtner scored his first Arsenal goal since March 2011 as the Gunners stayed in control at the top of the Barclays Premier League with a 2-0 win over Hull.

The Denmark striker was recalled to the starting XI to give leading forward Olivier Giroud a rest, and headed the hosts in front inside two minutes.

Mesut Ozil extended Arsenal's lead at the start of the second half, finishing off a fine passing exchange with Aaron Ramsey.

Bendtner - who last started a league game for Arsenal three seasons ago and almost left the club in the summer - took just 90 seconds to get on the scoresheet for the first time since an FA Cup tie against Leyton Orient in March 2011.

The Gunners' victory saw them maintain a four-point lead over second-placed Chelsea, who won 4-3 at relegation battlers Sunderland.

Aaron Ramsey sent full-back Carl Jenkinson - in the side for the injured Bacary Sagna - away down the right.

The England Under-21 international whipped over a perfect cross through the six-yard box, which Bendtner dispatched past Allan McGregor with a bullet header.

Arsenal - looking to keep ahead of their title rivals - had chances to extend the lead before half-time with a low, 20-yard shot from Ramsey tipped away by the Hull keeper.

The Gunners eventually doubled their lead at the start of the second half, when Ozil converted from close range after lovely interchange of passes with Ramsey at the edge of the penalty area.

Hull - who had beaten Liverpool at home on Sunday - never looked like mounting a fightback as Arsene Wenger's men continued to lay down a marker for a long overdue sustained assault on the Premier League crown.

After their blistering start, Arsenal - who had made several changes from the team which won at Cardiff, including starting with England trio Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs on the bench - continued to push Hull back.

Santi Cazorla's goal-bound shot was blocked and McGregor then spilled a low effort from Ozil which Bendtner could not turn in.

Hull slowly found some momentum and a centre from Robbie Brady flew across the face of the Arsenal goal.

When the Gunners did press the visitors back, they were guilty of some poor finishing, with the usually accurate Ramsey smashing an 18-yard effort high into the Clock End.

The Welshman's radar was, though, locked on target in the 31st minute, this time a low 20-yard effort that was set for the bottom-right corner being pushed away by the Hull keeper at full stretch.

Hull defender Maynor Figueroa upended Cazorla in front of the technical area, but referee Andre Marriner deemed the hefty sliding challenge fair.

Bendtner turned provider just before the break when he was played in on the overlap down the right and clipped the ball back through the six-yard box where Ozil just could not guide his header goalwards.

The German playmaker was on the scoresheet soon after the restart.

Nacho Monreal kept the ball in on the left touchline, and gave it to Ozil.

His sliderule pass found Ramsey on the edge of the box, before the Wales international turned away from goal and then played an exquisite reverse ball back into the path of Ozil, who coolly tucked it into the net from 10 yards and Arsenal led 2-0 in the 47th minute.

Brady was then perfectly placed on the post to flick away a backward header from Bendtner which may have been dropping into the far corner.

Hull made a double change on 58 minutes.

Forward Danny Graham was replaced by George Boyd and Brady came off for Liam Rosenior.

Hull striker Yannick Sagbo collided with Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny as they challenged for a ball through the six-yard box, but after the Pole had some brief treatment on his head, play resumed.

Arsenal, who have now started to show really depth with the return of their injured players, sent Walcott and Wilshere on for the last 17 minutes, replacing Bendtner and Tomas Rosicky.

As the clock ran down, Hull boss Steve Bruce was involved in a few exchanges with the jubilant Arsenal fans behind the visitors' bench - most of which were taken in good spirits by the former Manchester United defender.


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