Hull City’s new-look attack and getting the best from Hatem Ben Arfa

Although Arsenal’s signing of Danny Welbeck and Manchester United’s audacious move to bring Radamel Falcao to Old Trafford dominated transfer deadline day business, Hull City should be adjudged as the Premier League’s major winners.

Steve Bruce consolidated sensible summer business by adding four international players to his squad before the chance passed him by at the start of this month.

The KC Stadium outfit defied doubters in their first season back in the top flight last term and were relatively comfortable in avoiding the drop back to The Championship.

However, the old adage that the second season is even more difficult than the first will apply for Bruce’s men in 2014-15.

That said, despite the off-season departures of Shane Long and George Boyd, Hull look like a much more rounded side after ambitious moves in the transfer market.

The acquisitions of Tom Ince and Robert Snodgrass have added pace and creativity in wide areas, while Michael Dawson’s signing brings experience into the team’s rearguard.

With Jake Livermore’s stay at the KC Stadium made permanent and the captures of promising youngsters Harry Maguire and Andrew Robertson also, Tigers fans will have been confident of another successful season.

However, four new faces brought to the club in the final hours of the window will only have heightened hopes and expectations.

Bruce and the powers that be at the Yorkshire side managed to seal a club record transfer to bring highly rated Uruguayan forward Abel Hernández to England, while Mohamed Diame was signed from West Ham.

Add to this the loan captures of Gastón Ramírez and Hatem Ben Arfa from Southampton and Newcastle respectively and Hull have plenty of new attacking options in the final third.

With a steady start to the campaign that has heralded four points from the side’s first three games, Hull’s line-up in the team’s next game against West Ham this weekend will be interesting.

Hernández has consistently been linked with a move to a bigger club following impressive displays for Palermo in Italy.

Hatem Ben ArfaThe South American’s speed, eye for goal and technique will certainly make Hull a more dangerous side, especially on the counter attack. Although Hernández will need time to adapt to his new environment, the 24-year-old has all the attributes to be a star in the Premier League.

The addition of fellow Uruguayan Ramírez is a sensible move for a number of reasons.

Not only will the Southampton midfielder help compatriot Hernández to adjust to life in England, but he himself has a point to prove to the British football community.

Signed from Bologna in the summer of 2012, much was expected of the playmaker with initial signs that he could take Southampton to the next level.

However, when Mauricio Pochettino took over from Nigel Adkins and enforced a high pressing style this did not suit Ramírez, who was quickly out of favour.

If used in the correct role, whether in the starting XI or as an impact sub, Ramírez has the creativity and ability to create clear-cut chances for others.

Diame had lost his starting role at Upton Park but has shown over the last two seasons with the Hammers that he is more than good enough to excel in the Premier League.

The Senegalese midfielder’s versatility, ability on the ball and work-rate will be a boost for Hull; there is an argument that the African could be used at right wing-back, in central midfield or further forward.

Finally, Ben Arfa’s signing is arguably the most exciting for Tigers fans.

Something of a flawed genius, there has never been any doubt about the France international’s ability on the pitch, with the former Marseille man captivating fans in the North East with his displays of individual brilliance in recent years.

A falling out with Alan Pardew has seen Ben Arfa on the outskirts of things at St James’ Park and the 27-year-old will be keen to get back into regular action and remind everyone just how good he is.

Bruce’s Hull side is based around defensive solidarity and hard work in midfield; Ben Arfa adds unpredictability and inventiveness to the dynamic.

The relationship between manager and player will be essential to ensuring that Ben Arfa’s time at Hull is a success, while the Frenchman will also need to be deployed in the correct position.

At Newcastle, where Pardew has most frequently adopted a 4-4-2 formation or bespoke versions of it, Ben Arfa became somewhat ostrasiced, with no specific role for his considerable attacking abilities but reticence to track back.

However, in Hull’s 5-3-2 system, Ben Arfa will be best suited to playing in the number ten role.

This will free him up to find space and bring others into play, while also removing him from any substantial defensive responsibilities.

All-in-all, Hull’s ambition in the transfer market this summer should be commended and as such Bruce’s men now have the weaponry to kick on and play for a top-half finish this season.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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