Arsenal began their defence of the FA Cup with a hard-fought win as Hull City failed to gain a measure of revenge for defeat in last year's final.

Per Mertesacker rose above the Hull defence to powerfully head in the opener from Alexis Sanchez's corner.

Arsenal controlled the first half and almost doubled their lead when Hull's Paul McShane cleared off the line.

Hull grew in confidence after half-time but Sanchez's sharp turn and calm finish inside 18 yards sealed victory.

The Chile forward has become Arsenal's talisman since his £35m summer move from Barcelona and another moment of quality eased any lingering fears of Hull snatching a late draw at the Emirates.

In truth, the Tigers rarely looked capable of avenging their dramatic 3-2 defeat at Wembley last May and this third-round tie failed to match the fever and tension of last season's showpiece.

Arsenal controlled 65% of the possession in the first half, but failed to transform their dominance into a comfortable lead against injury-hit Hull.

Teams to have retained the FA Cup

The Wanderers (1871-72, 1872-73)

Blackburn Rovers (1889-90, 1890-91)

Newcastle United (1950-51, 1951-52)

Tottenham Hotspur (1960-61, 1961-62)

Tottenham Hotspur (1980-81, 1981-82)

Arsenal (2001-02, 2002-03)

Chelsea (2008-09, 2009-10)

Tigers boss Steve Bruce was left with only 18 first-team players available, but still managed to make 10 changes from the side which beat Everton on New Year's Day.

Hull are fighting for top-flight survival and Bruce decided to freshen up his squad as he prioritises forthcoming Premier League matches against West Brom and West Ham.

His changed team provided plenty of endeavour but they lacked the guile needed to hurt an Arsenal side which suffered their first defeat in six matches at Southampton on New Year's Day.

Hull raced into a 2-0 lead inside eight minutes when they met at Wembley and, although the visitors made another high-tempo start, Arsenal were more defensively alert on this occasion.

And once skipper Mertesacker escaped Hull counterpart Curtis Davies to nod in the opener, the Gunners never looked in danger of suffering a second home FA Cup defeat in 39 matches.

Arsene Wenger's side did lose some rhythm in the first part of the second half as Hull pressed their opponents higher up the pitch. But they failed to seriously stretch Gunners keeper David Ospina.

England forward Theo Walcott, 24, played 75 minutes on his first Gunners start for exactly a year as he continues to make his comeback from a serious knee injury and showed brief flashes of his pacy threat.

A Santi Cazorla pass allowed Sanchez to clinically fire in as Arsenal continue their bid to become only the eighth club to retain the FA Cup.

Hull City manager Steve Bruce:

"If we're going to be honest Arsenal deserved to win. We just needed to stay in there but unfortunately, at the top end of the pitch, we were unable to create anything.

"The disappointing thing for me is that the first goal is the first we've conceded from a corner this season. Mertesacker is huge - we should be doing better than that. We battled on valiantly but we weren't quite good enough.

"I know most teams get injuries but we can't carry six or seven missing - that's what we were doing today. We were down to the bare bones but there are no excuses, the better team won."

Arsenal v Hull

Per Mertesacker scored his first Arsenal goal since last season's FA Cup semi-final against Wigan

Alexis Sanchez

Arsenal sealed their passage into the fourth round through Alexis Sanchez's 16th goal of the campaign

Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott made his first Arsenal start since their FA Cup win against Spurs on 4 January last year

Arsenal celebrate winning FA Cup

Arsenal came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Hull in last year's final - their first silverware in nine seasons

Lineup, Bookings (4) & Substitutions (5)

Arsenal

  • 13 Ospina
  • 39 Bellerin
  • 21 Chambers
  • 04 Mertesacker
  • 18 Monreal
  • 07 Rosicky
  • 34 Coquelin Booked
  • 14 Walcott (Oxlade-Chamberlain - 76' )
  • 19 Cazorla
  • 28 Campbell (Maitland-Niles - 91' )
  • 17 Sánchez Booked (Akpom - 84' )

Substitutes

  • 02 Debuchy
  • 06 Koscielny
  • 15 Oxlade-Chamberlain
  • 26 Martinez
  • 35 Zelalem
  • 38 Akpom
  • 70 Maitland-Niles

Hull City

  • 22 Harper
  • 15 McShane Booked
  • 12 Maguire
  • 06 Davies Booked
  • 03 Figueroa
  • 23 Ince
  • 08 Huddlestone
  • 29 Quinn
  • 11 Brady
  • 20 Sagbo (Hernández - 67' )
  • 24 Aluko (Elmohamady - 62' )

Substitutes

  • 01 McGregor
  • 04 Bruce
  • 07 Meyler
  • 09 Hernández
  • 14 Livermore
  • 21 Dawson
  • 27 Elmohamady
Ref: Robert Madley
Att: 59,439

Match Stats

Possession

54 46

Shots

17 9

On target

7 3

Corners

6 2

Fouls

10 9

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Arsenal 2, Hull City 0.

90:00 +2:57 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Arsenal 2, Hull City 0.

90:00 +1:34

Attempt missed. Abel Hernández (Hull City) header from the right side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Ahmed Elmohamady with a cross.

90:00 +0:10 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Arsenal. Ainsley Maitland-Niles replaces Joel Campbell.

89:46

Attempt missed. Tom Ince (Hull City) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

89:22

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

88:55

Delay in match Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal) because of an injury.

88:01

Attempt saved. Tom Huddlestone (Hull City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Stephen Quinn.

87:00 Booking

Booking Francis Coquelin (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

86:43

Foul by Francis Coquelin (Arsenal).

86:43

Harry Maguire (Hull City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

85:26

Attempt missed. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Per Mertesacker.

84:19 Booking

Booking Curtis Davies (Hull City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

84:13

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the right wing.

84:13

Foul by Curtis Davies (Hull City).

83:20 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Arsenal. Chuba Akpom replaces Alexis Sánchez.

81:24 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Arsenal 2, Hull City 0. Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Santiago Cazorla.

78:33

Attempt missed. Abel Hernández (Hull City) left footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the left is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Stephen Quinn.

78:17

Attempt blocked. Joel Campbell (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

75:35 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Arsenal. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaces Theo Walcott.

75:05 Booking

Booking Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

74:50

Foul by Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal).

74:50

Curtis Davies (Hull City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

74:02

Attempt blocked. Francis Coquelin (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Santiago Cazorla.

73:33

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Steve Harper.

73:31

Attempt saved. Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is saved in the centre of the goal.

72:12

Attempt missed. Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez.

70:03

Francis Coquelin (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

70:03

Foul by Stephen Quinn (Hull City).

66:51 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Hull City. Abel Hernández replaces Yannick Sagbo.

66:22

Attempt missed. Theo Walcott (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Santiago Cazorla with a through ball.

61:14 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Hull City. Ahmed Elmohamady replaces Sone Aluko.

60:32

Attempt missed. Joel Campbell (Arsenal) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez.

58:58

Foul by Theo Walcott (Arsenal).

58:58

Stephen Quinn (Hull City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

56:49

Dangerous play by Joel Campbell (Arsenal).

56:49

Paul McShane (Hull City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

53:43

Foul by Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal).

53:43

Stephen Quinn (Hull City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

53:12

Attempt missed. Robbie Brady (Hull City) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Yannick Sagbo.

50:56

Foul by Francis Coquelin (Arsenal).

50:56

Tom Ince (Hull City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

50:32

Attempt blocked. Tom Huddlestone (Hull City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

49:12

Foul by Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal).

49:12

Stephen Quinn (Hull City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

48:15

Calum Chambers (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

48:15

Foul by Yannick Sagbo (Hull City).

47:41

Attempt saved. Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Tomas Rosicky.

45:00

Second Half begins Arsenal 1, Hull City 0.

45:00 +1:05 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Arsenal 1, Hull City 0.

45:00 +0:10 Booking

Booking Paul McShane (Hull City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

45:00 +0:04

Nacho Monreal (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the left wing.

45:00 +0:04

Foul by Paul McShane (Hull City).

44:39

Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

44:39

Foul by Paul McShane (Hull City).

39:42

Francis Coquelin (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

39:42

Foul by Sone Aluko (Hull City).

38:48

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Maynor Figueroa.

38:12

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Harry Maguire.

38:09

Attempt blocked. Joel Campbell (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Santiago Cazorla.

36:51

Attempt blocked. Theo Walcott (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Nacho Monreal.

36:01

Per Mertesacker (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

36:01

Foul by Sone Aluko (Hull City).

29:37

Attempt saved. Harry Maguire (Hull City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Robbie Brady with a cross.

29:01

Corner, Hull City. Conceded by Nacho Monreal.

25:25

Attempt saved. Theo Walcott (Arsenal) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Santiago Cazorla with a through ball.

21:51

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Steve Harper.

21:28

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Paul McShane.

21:18

Attempt blocked. Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) right footed shot from very close range is blocked. Assisted by Tomas Rosicky.

19:32 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Arsenal 1, Hull City 0. Per Mertesacker (Arsenal) header from very close range to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez with a cross following a corner.

19:07

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Paul McShane.

18:35

Joel Campbell (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

18:35

Foul by Paul McShane (Hull City).

17:56

Attempt saved. Paul McShane (Hull City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Harry Maguire with a cross.

17:04

Corner, Hull City. Conceded by Héctor Bellerín.

15:32

Foul by Joel Campbell (Arsenal).

15:32

Tom Ince (Hull City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

14:36

Attempt missed. Tom Ince (Hull City) left footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Paul McShane.

13:21

Attempt missed. Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the box is just a bit too high.

13:19

Attempt blocked. Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Theo Walcott with a through ball.

12:26

Foul by Per Mertesacker (Arsenal).

12:26

Sone Aluko (Hull City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

10:46

Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the left wing.

10:46

Foul by Tom Huddlestone (Hull City).

9:12

Foul by Francis Coquelin (Arsenal).

9:12

Stephen Quinn (Hull City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

3:49

Attempt saved. Joel Campbell (Arsenal) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez with a through ball.

2:44

Offside, Hull City. Tom Huddlestone tries a through ball, but Yannick Sagbo is caught offside.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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