Arsenal can’t afford not to win this evening at Hull

A dark, blustery winter’s evening in the North East is an Arsenal nightmare.

Memories of past troubles at Bolton, the embarrassing northern defeats to Manchester Sheikeh and Stoke earlier this season also come to mind.

Hull were one of the few so-called lesser sides this season who tried to take the game to Arsenal rather than simply contain us and hope to nullify our ever-bluntened threat.

Things have started to crumble for them after a fabulous start to life in the Premiership – and one win in 12 is about as bad a run as it gets.

Without key defender Kamil Zayatte and midfielder George Boateng, Arsène Wenger’s job should be made eaiser.

I’m not convinced that Kevin Kilbane is going to be much of an addition to their squad either.

But Manucho, a M*nure reserve, is a different prospect altogether – an unknown quantity who must have a fair degree of quality to be signed by Red Nose.

It’s hard to concur with Wenger that we are building up a head of steam at present – the nature of our victories during the present run have hardly been wholly convincing.

But three points are three points, we’re without a quartet of first-choice players bristling with creativity (Cesc Fabregas, Tomas Rosicky, Eduardo and Theo Walcott), getting victories when below par is a triumph for this young team.

Much as I would love to see Carlos Vela on the left, where I think all of us agree he has made a great impact in the last couple of games as a sub, Hull is probably not the place to give him a Premier League start.

I doubt Wenger will make any changes from last week’s match although I’d be quite happy to see Aaron Ramsey given a floating role in place of Manu Eboue, who despite supposedly being a right midfielder thesedays, seems still to wander all over the pitch thesedays without actually contributing much to the cause. At least Ramsey takes players on and isn’t afraid to have a shot- something that could prove useful at the KC Stadium.

I’d even be happy with Ramsey to replace Abou Diaby, who is giving me the impression of someone who doesn’t want it badly enough. Ramsey is impressive and wouldn’t shirk challenges in the manner Diaby sometimes does.

At this stage of the season, whatever the result later on, we’ll still have plenty to do before we know whether we have managed to stave off the challenge of Villa for fourth place.

But not winning, given the host’s form, would have the doubters raising their heads again and the focus returning to us as the team in crisis. I’m happy to see Ch*vski hold that mantle at present.

I believe one of the other top four sides will drop points this weekend – with Liverpool favourites to do so given the intensity of their derby and form of Everton recently. We MUST take advantage of that.

It’s going to take a lot of grit and discipline, keeping September’s Emirates scorers Geovanni and Daniel Cousin at bay and remaining calm in the face of baying fans and terrible weather.

It’s going to be a battle out there – Hull won’t sit back but neither will they simply invite us to attack as Bolton did last week.

It’s gonna be tough, Gooners.

But three points are ours for the taking and I believe we’ll be celebrating later on this evening.