Any hope of the Premier League title may have gone, but Arsène Wenger is eager for his Arsenal side to finish the season as strongly as possible to set them up for a real challenge next campaign. Chelsea clinched the championship on Sunday, leaving Arsenal to battle it out for the runners-up spot. With five matches remaining, Arsenal trail second-placed Manchester City by three points, although Wenger’s men have two games in hand. And Arsenal can move level with last year’s champions with a victory at Hull City on Monday.
“I think we will be judged at the end of the season [on] May 30 after the FA Cup final [and on] where are we in the Premier League. We’ll see how well we have done,” he said, reports the club’s official website. “That’s why it is vital to keep the focus and hunger to go as strong as we can until the end.
“What will be interesting [next season is], let’s get a new start and see where we stand. We feel we have made up some ground, and that will be the challenge of next season from the start. Let’s show we are there and capable of fighting for [the title].”
While they may have fallen short over the course of the title race, Arsenal’s form in 2015 has been better than any of their rivals. Only a goalless draw against Chelsea last time out snapped an eight match winning streak in the Premier League, with Wenger attributing much of the upswing to their injury problems having cleared up significantly since a difficult start to the campaign. At the KC Stadium on Monday, Wenger looks set to stick with the side that has remained settled during their strong run. Right-back Mathieu Debuchy could be missing with a hamstring problem picked up in training, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mikel Arteta remain short of being able to return to first-team action.
Hull very much have concrete targets still to play for in the remainder of the campaign. Despite back-to-back wins over Crystal Palace and Liverpool that appeared to have eased their relegation worries, victories for Sunderland and Leicester City below them over the weekend mean they go into Monday’s encounter just a point above the drop zone. Adding to Hull’s concern will be the fact that their run-in is far from straightforward, with matches against Tottenham and Manchester United also upcoming, after a home meeting with Burnley. And manager Steve Bruce knows his team has to maintain their recent good performances if they are to take anything from Arsenal.
“We know we’re going to have to be at our best,” he said, according to Hull City’s official website. “We’ll have to defend well because Arsenal have such an array of attacking talent and that always makes it a difficult game. They’ve been on a run of late so we will have to play well.
“But, we’ve just had two games where our players have performed to their maximum - and just at the right time. We, too, have found a little bit of form. Where that has come from – I’d like to be able to bottle the reason and point to it as being the answer but it isn’t as easy as that. We need to show it again on Monday.”
Hull have been boosted by the return from suspension of midfielder David Meyler, while top-scorer Nikica Jelavic is also back in contention after injury.
Kickoff time: 3 p.m. EDT
TV channel: NBCSN
Live stream: NBC Sports Live Extra