Hull City v Sunderland – Premier League
Hull have no fresh injury problems and are effectively at full strength, as none of the five absentees leave them any weaker. An unchanged starting 11 for a third straight game is expected, meaning Huddlestone is once again overlooked in favour of Evandro. A change wouldn’t weaken but would be defensive. Hernandez is pressing to displace Niasse up front, however, it’s likely he makes the bench. At home, Hull have been exceptional under Marco Silva and will fully believe they can take another three points against already relegated Sunderland. The game is a chance to apply pressure to Swansea, who play later, so the incentive to win couldn’t be higher. The fans will be right behind the team, but they won’t be too attacking from the outset, trying to work their way into the contest and get a win. Any victory counts at this stage of the season, but with so much at stake, there will be a temptation to sit back and try to consolidate if they get ahead, however, a single goal lead isn’t totally secure so they would have to keep looking for goals. They’ll have to regroup quickly if they go behind, as defeat isn’t an option here, but their approach would need to become a lot more open.
Sunderland have a mixed bag in terms of team news, with Jones, Denayer and Rodwell all returning, while Cattermole, Gibson and Oviedo all remain out. The three returning players should start, which is a welcome boost to team strength, while Larsson is also back and expected to begin in midfield. Kone, Pienaar, Khazri and Love are those set to make way as the team becomes stronger and more balanced. With relegation confirmed Sunderland have no pressure between now and the end of the season, which could work in their favour, but the mood of the players will be very poor. Combined with their away form this season, they won’t hold out too much hope of a positive result at home-strong Hull. A draw would be viewed as a decent outcome, but they’ll try and be competitive and find a rare away win. Belief in the camp is very low at the moment, so if they were to fall behind there’s every chance they slump to another defeat, but they will want to show some fight at least and will try to make a game of things. A high scoring encounter won’t suit, so they’ll aim to be difficult to beat and effective on the break. If leading, all effort would go into defending their slender advantage.
Verdict & Prediction
Hull are still clear of the relegation zone but are being matched stride for stride by Swansea below, so there can be no form of complacency coming into the team. At home, they have been excellent under Marco Silva and will be looking for another win to stay out the bottom three for another week. They are confident at home and will really believe a newly relegated Sunderland are beatable, being disappointed with anything less. They’ll have to be wary of a potential backlash though, so they will need to be focused in all departments, but anything but a win would be viewed poorly. In a bid to really get behind the team, the official supporters club for Hull has declared Saturday as ‘Black and Amber Day’, urging those attending to wear the colours of the team and really create a good atmosphere, hoping to have a galvanising effect on the squad.
Prediction: Hull City – 1.00 Asian Handicap
Odds: 1.88 Pinnacle