Alexis Sanchez scored a controversial goal as Arsenal beat Hull 2-0 to keep good on Arsene Wenger’s vow that the Gunners were still in the title race.
Wenger claimed in the build-up to the game that his side were still capable of overhauling Chelsea’s lead at the top, despite a run of results that had left them 12 points adrift of the Blues going into the Saturday lunchtime fixture.
Having lost at home to Watford and slipped to defeat at Chelsea in their last two outings, a minority of Arsenal fans once again turned on manager Arsene Wenger.
But, with the Frenchman sat in the stands as he served the last of his four-match touchline ban, his side returned to winning ways.
The victory just about keeps the Gunners in the title picture and means they will retain their spot in the top four ahead of their Champions League trip to Bayern Munich in midweek.
Some Arsenal fans stayed away from the game as a form of protest and their side were not at their best as they eased past Marco Silva’s spirited side.
Liverpool loanee Lazar Markovic then danced through into the Arsenal box with ease but his low cross just evaded the onrushing Oumar Niasse.
Petr Cech was called into action soon after as a long ball to Kamil Grosicki caught out the Arsenal defence and the Poland international crossed for Niasse, who header was pushed behind by the Gunners goalkeeper.
Wenger then watched on as his side missed two guilt-edged chances to take the lead as first Hector Bellerin shot into the side-netting and then Sanchez pulled a shot wide from in front of goal.
Arsenal were beginning to dominate possession but were finding it difficult to break down a Hull defence, with Ozil volleying high and wide at the midway point of the first half.
The hosts took the lead in controversial fashion just after the half-hour mark as Kieran Gibbs saw his shot blocked on the line by Andrew Robertson before Sanchez’s shot was saved by Eldin Jakupovic, with the ball bouncing off the hand of the Chilean and in.
Hull’s players turned and appealed for handball but the goal was allowed to stand despite referee Mark Clattenburg discussing the incident with his assistant.
Cech was again required at the start of the second-half as Markovic outpaced Laurent Koscielny down the flank and crossed for Niasse to test the former Chelsea man once more.
Theo Walcott was booked by Clattenburg early in the second half, with Gibbs fortuitous to only be cautioned moments later as he charged into the back of Markovic – who was advancing swiftly on the Arsenal goal.
Sanchez was booked for simulation having twice been upended by Hull’s defence before the busy Niasse sent a near-post header into the side-netting as the Tigers looked to take a share of the spoils.
Wenger threw on Danny Welbeck and Perez in the latter stages in an attempt to make the victory more comfortable and Perez’s late shot was blocked by Clucas’ hand – Sanchez settling the contest from the resulting penalty after Clattenburg had flashed his red card.
Alexis Sanchez has been involved in 16 goals in his last 13 Premier League games for Arsenal (11 goals, 5 assists).
Sanchez has scored in each of his four Premier League appearances against Hull (7 goals in total – more than against any other side).
No player has scored more Premier League goals against Hull than Sanchez (7, level with Wayne Rooney).
In all competitions, Sanchez has bagged eight goals in six games against the Tigers, also his biggest tally against any side.
The Gunners have scored in each of their last 16 top-flight games, the longest scoring streak by any side in the division this season.
Hull have now gone 12 Premier League away games without a win, the joint-longest current such run in the top-flight this season (level with Leicester City).
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has played the full 90 minutes in just two of his last 42 Premier League appearances, and in just 12 of his 121 in total.
Sanchez is the first player to score 2+ goals in three consecutive Premier League appearances vs the same team since Thierry Henry vs Charlton in 2002.
Two of Hull’s three red cards this season in the top-flight have come against Arsenal (also Jake Livermore in the reverse fixture).
Arsenal have won six penalties in the Premier League this season so far, three times as many as they were awarded in the whole of 2015/16 (2).