26/11/2009

Preview: City v Hull

Hull visit Eastlands again on Saturday, with last season's Boxing Day fixture, complete with comedy scenes of manager Phil Brown sitting his players down on the pitch for a half-time rollicking still fresh in the memory. Widely derided for it, the general consensus was that the incident led to him losing the dressing room at the KC.

Hull never really recovered, winning only one of nineteen league games afterwards. Somehow the orange one kept his job despite a criminal moustache and some badly-timed karaoke, but to be fair to him they have been picking up results of late when most people had written him off as being a dead man walking, particularly after ally and chairman Paul Duffen left the club last month after fibbing about the finances.

Having only won once on the road in their last twenty-one attempts since last October's victory at West Brom, earning a grand total of nine points from a possible sixty-three, we should rightly be expecting to beat them. That coupled with our excellent home record, just seven points dropped in a year, and the bookies predictions of a comfortable home victory might appear on the money.

Given the way we've been defending of late, however, we know there's always a chance we could make things not so easy on ourselves. The game at Anfield had looked like a turning point, a real solid defensively display was encouraging, only for us to revert to type later on with some woeful positioning, aimless distribution, topped off with conceding one of the softest goals you'll ever see at any level of the game.

With Jimmy Bullard in their side, Hull will always have half a chance. He's a player who is undoubtedly capable of changing a game, even against top clubs. Geovanni, too, as we know from his time here, is equally liable to do something unexpected, and in everyone's favourite dickhead Stephen Hunt, and the lively Jozy Altidore, they've certainly got players who, if we clock off as we have been doing, could cause us problems.

The game might especially represent a good chance for our wingers to do what they do best against a defence that was the poorest in the league until Wigan's spineless showing at Spurs last week. If Robinho does return, he and Shaun Wright-Phillips, who hasn't been performing as regularly of late, could find themselves in their element against Andy Dawson, and unless Brown sticks with a winning team, the erratic Bernard Mendy.

As covered in a previous post, i'm expecting a good performance and result, as most of us are by the sounds of things. The recent home draws have let down what would otherwise have been a terrific unbeaten run, and we must send out a statement that those performances were only a blip, and in saying that nothing less than three points will be acceptable. Though we must show Hull respect, we should equally be capable of giving them a bit of a hiding.

The most interesting battle of the day could be between Pablo Zabaleta and Stephen Hunt. The former Reading man is perhaps underrated as a player due to his niggly nature. In Pablo he'll be facing a defender not afraid to give someone a kick up the arse if he feels it's needed. Though appearing quite mild-mannered in person, Zab's certainly got that fiery South American streak to him, and with two such highly-strung characters there's the chance we might see fireworks.

Kolo Toure is expected to be okay following treatment on the back injury which forced him off at half-time at Anfield. Robinho could make his first start in three months, reports from training indicate he's looking sharp. Carlos Tevez's performance from the bench on Saturday and subsequent comments from Mark Hughes mean he's likely to return. Craig Bellamy and Gareth Barry could be the two to make way. Martin Petrov will be the only senior absentee, but should be back next week once over a knee strain.

For Hull, Bernard Mendy has completed a one-match ban for his red card against West Ham and may replace Paul McShane, who perhaps put in the worst display i've ever seen from an opposition player during last season's fixture, at right-back. Jimmy Bullard should return after being rested for the recent game with Everton. American forward Altidore is likely to start upfront. Seyi Olofinjana is doubtful with a pulled hamstring and captain Ian Ashbee is out for the season.

Probable teams:
City: Given, Zabaleta, Bridge, Toure, Lescott, de Jong, Wright-Phillips, Ireland, Tevez, Adebayor, Robinho

Hull: Duke, Mendy, Dawson, Zayette, Gardner, Boateng, Marney, Bullard, Geovanni, Altidore, Hunt

Prediction: City 3 Hull 1

1 comment:

  1. City 5 Hull 0, clean sheet for Given

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