Hull take on Sunderland as one of the six 3pm kickoffs on Saturday, hoping to prevent Sunderland from entering into their first winning streak of the season. Hull have won three games in nine since their promotion to the Premier League, but Sunderland only managed their first win of the season last weekend, albeit in one of the biggest matches in their calendar season.
Hull come into this one on the back of two consecutive losses to Tottenham and Everton, but those are two extremely tough games and before that they had been undefeated in four. In fact the only teams that Hull have lost to have been those two, ManchesterCity and Chelsea. So it’s encouraging then that they have won or drawn against all teams they have played below them in the table, as Sunderland certainly are. Moreover Hull are unbeaten at home this season (won 2, drawn 2) and have only conceded 1 goal in that time. With an outstanding defence and with the signs in their favour, a win could be vital given how close it is in the middle of the Premier League. Only 3 points separate them from the relegation zone.
Sunderland took their first steps in the direction of survival with a dramatic last minute winner from Fabio Borini last Sunday at the Stadium of Light. To sweeten the day, it came against their greatest rivals in the Tyne-Wear Derby. The impact that a surge in morale can have on a struggling club cannot be overstated, and having rid themselves of the tyrant Paulo Di Canio combined with this euphoric win, they must now try to pick up some kind of momentum if they are to close the gap between themselves and the rest of the league. As Guys Poyet said following the Newcastle game:
“This will change our season. I’m sure the players will be even more together and the fans will look forward to the next game.”
That was his first home win for the club, and Sunderland fans will be hoping he can achieve his first away win too on Saturday.
Having won 2 and drawn 2, Hull are yet to lose at home in the Premier League, although Sunderland have won each of their last six league encounters with Hull.
There have been four red cards in the last three meetings between these teams, and in fact the last time this fixture was played, Jozy Altidore who now plays for Sunderland was sent off for Hull.
Sunderland have registered 1 win in their opening 9 fixtures for the second season in a row (W1, D6, L2 in 2012-13)
Robert Brady will be key to Hull’s chances in this one. Huddlestone and Brady have been their two outstanding midfielders, but Brady has been particularly dangerous as a direct goal threat. He is the clubs top goal scorer on 3 goals, impressive that they have come from midfield. In fact his stats are almost more akin to that of a striker than a midfielder. His 3 goals have come from a total of 5 (unblocked) shots, 4 of which have been on target giving him an outstanding 80% shooting accuracy. He has proven to be clinical with a chance conversion of 60%, and he was able to finish off both of his clear-cut goal scoring opportunities. As a midfielder by trade he is still creative of course. Only Huddlestone (15) has created more than Brady this season, who has produced 10 chances, one of which was converted to give him an assist. Indeed, if Brady can have a big game for Hull then Sunderland will have to put some thought into stopping him.
Thanks mainly to his outstanding creative ability, I have selected Adam Johnson as Sunderland’s most important player against Hull. He has created a brilliant total of 18 goal scoring chances this season. 13 of these have come from open play, and 4 of them from set pieces. He has one assist, that came from a set piece, but it is disappointing that the rest of team hasn’t been making the most of his creativity. He has even created 4 clear-cut goal scoring chances, and Sunderland are doing as badly as they are because the rest of the side can’t finish these chances. He’s also very effective running with the ball at his feet. He has attempted 22 dribbles over the course of the season and 59% of these have been successful. As a result he has managed to put in a team-high 61 crosses, 26% of which have found their target. And so he as important to Sunderland as Brady is to Hull.
He may be my key player, but he is also an injury worry. Brady is still likely to play though although he may need a fitness test ahead of the game, as will Aluko. McGregor, Chester and Bruce are all sure to miss out.
Only Wes Brown will be missing for Sunderland with a calf injury.
Sunderland are on a major high right now, and perhaps this is all that was needed to get the best of a team that does, in truth, have a lot of good players in it.
Sunderland win: 1 – 2