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Hull v Arsenal: Steve Bruce contender for Manager of the Season after very solid campaign

Jamie Carragher - Jamie Carragher Posted 17th April 2014 view comments

Sunday's game between Hull and Arsenal is not only interesting because of Arsene Wenger's side's push for the top four but because it features both FA Cup finalists.

This match should be very different to what we see at Wembley, though, as Hull have home advantage this weekend and can call upon top strikers Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic, something they won't be able to do next month when they are cup-tied.

Steve Bruce - the real one - has bought shrewdly this season

Steve Bruce - the real one - has bought shrewdly this season

Steve Bruce will be glad to have Long and Jelavic available on Super Sunday because they are not yet completely safe from relegation, though you would expect them to do more than enough to stay up.

Plus, even though those strikers will have to watch the FA Cup final in the stands, if they can help their side to a win this weekend, it could help them psychologically heading into the massive match at Wembley.

He is big, strong and an excellent passer of the ball.

Carra on Tom Huddlestone
Quotes of the week

Arsene Wenger has said that finishing fourth and winning the FA Cup would represent success for Arsenal, but I think getting to the FA Cup final and staying up for Hull would be a massive achievement.

Many people had tipped Hull to struggle before a ball was kicked but they have been defensively solid - only Chelsea, Everton and the Manchester clubs have conceded fewer goals - and bought exceptionally well.

Long and Jelavic have developed a good understanding up front while Curtis Davies has been good at the back and Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore have been excellent in central midfield.

Both Huddlestone and Livermore have Premier League experience, power and ability, especially Huddlestone, who is big, strong and an excellent passer of the ball.

Those signings and what he's done with his team must make Steve Bruce a candidate for Manager of the Season.

Brilliance

Olivier Giroud is likely to be Arsenal's main source of goals on Sunday as while he has not been as prolific recently, he has got 20 for the campaign, which isn't bad considering a lot of his club's creative players have been out injured for periods this season.

He has also had to play a lot of games - only Per Mertesacker has played more for Arsenal this year - so it's no wonder he is tired, but taking everything into account I think he has had a productive time.

However, I don't think he has the brilliance of strikers at other top clubs and will never be a 25-30 goal a season man, so I'm sure Arsenal will be looking to strengthen in that area over the summer.

Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandzukic has been linked and he is a very good striker, but I think they could really do with a frontman with pace and mobility who can play alongside Giroud at times and on his own at others.

Loic Remy would fit the bill, I guess, because he is a good player who has performed in the Premier League for both QPR and Newcastle and would be a decent acquisition.

But Arsenal don't have any world-class players in that position and after trying to sign Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez last summer, I think that's the bracket they would be looking to deal with again, no disrespect to Remy.

They need a bit more of a contrast in the side overall, though, as they are a bit samey and one-paced in midfield as well, especially without Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

That said, I think after the midweek results and the fixtures to come you would have to make Arsenal favourites to finish fourth, and, as Wenger has said, if they backed that up with the FA Cup it would represent a good achievement.

They have had injuries to key players at key times and the race for the Champions League places is so competitive now that fourth is something to be proud of, while they have been waiting a very long time for a trophy, too.

Champions League football and a Wembley win and I think you give Arsenal 8/10 for the campaign.

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