Hull v Sunderland – Match Preview
FA Premier League, KCom Stadium, Hull 3pm
Hull will be looking to utilise their relegation-defying home form under Marco Silva to best already relegated Sunderland in a vital end-of-season clash at the KCOM Stadium.
Hull are in 17th and currently have a slender two point advantage on 18th place Swansea. With just 3 games remaining a win would be in what has turned out to be an absolutely nail-biting climax in the bid to avoid the drop.
Hull have reincarnated as a completely different team since the arrival of Marco Silva and have given themselves an almost unthinkable chance to avoid immediately returning to The Championship – in the first year after being promoted via the play-offs. The home form has been particularly impressive, winning 8 and drawing 1 of the 9 games played there since the Portuguese manager took over.
Sunderland on the other hand had their own relegation confirmed with last week’s defeat against Bournemouth. The Black Cats have been woeful this season, especially since the turn of the year and will see their 10th consecutive season in the Premier League as their last – at least for now.
Relegation had long been coming for the North-East club and despite various dramatic escapes in the latter stages of seasons previously, this year the lack of quality on the pitch has been telling. Sunderland have won just once in their last 17 Premier League matches and picked up just 8 points from a possible 51 in that time.
Manager David Moyes has said he plans to stay with the club and attempt to regain a spot in England’s top division as soon as possible.
Paddy McNair and Duncan Watmore are both long-term absentees and won’t feature for Sunderland, but David Moyes has said he will play his strongest team possible despite already being assured of relegation. To do so he will also be welcoming back Seb Larsson from suspension and Jack Rodwell, Darron Gibson, Steven Pienaar, Jason Denayer and Lee Cattermole from injury.
Hull have no new fitness concerns but Ryan Mason has been back in training this week after a horrendous head injury but isn’t likely to feature. Moses Odubajo and Will Keane will not be available.
Players to watch
Harry Maguire has been earning plaudits all season for his resilience at centre-back. Commanding, vigilant and with a superb timing of tackle, Maguire has had some debating international recognition by means of a first call up to the England squad for his excellent form. Especially under Marco Silva, his partnership with January recruit Andrea Ranocchia has been key to Hull tightening the defence and making it harder for teams to break The Tigers down. His battle with Sunderland key man Defoe will be a real highlight of the encounter.
For two years people have been asking: ‘Where would Sunderland be without Jermaine Defoe?’ However unfortunately for the Mackems, that answer is now the same place as they are with him – going down to The Championship. Nonetheless, it cannot be argued that his 14 Premier League goals have contributed to the relegation not being confirmed a lot sooner. At age 34 the striker seems as sharp as ever and his eye for goal has, if anything, increased in his later days – as proven by scoring on his international recall this season for England. Hull will know that giving Defoe space will prove costly. Currently on a long goalless run, Defoe has scored 4 in his last 5 appearances against The Tigers so will hope to rectify that on Saturday.
Hull have only ever won once against Sunderland in the Premier League, and never scored more than the solitary goal in those 4 matches.
Additionally, The Tigers are the only team in the whole division who haven’t netted against The Black Cats this campaign.
Similarly, Sunderland have only been victorious against Hull in one of their last five attempts – that being the reverse fixture from this season (3-0).
To compound their misery, if Sunderland remain at the foot of the table (which looks likely) then they will have spent a combined 261 days in the relegation zone – joint 5th highest in Premier League history.
- Skybet Pundit’s Prediction – Charlie Nicholas’s Tip Correct Score – Hull 2-0 – 11/2
- Skybet RequestAbet Specials Upto 10/1 – 7+ Hull corners and 30+ Sunderland booking pts – 6/1
- Skybet RequestAbet Specials 11/1 to 28/1 – BTTS, 4+ Corners Each Team, 20+ Booking pts Each Team – 11/1
- Skybet Both Players to Score – Oumar Niasse and Lazar Markovic – 9/2
- Skybet Officials – A Penalty Awarded – 11/4