In a repeat of the first fixture of the season Chelsea and Hull meet at the KC Stadium after both clubs overcame Championship opponents in the FA Cup last weekend.
Hull City will have had one target this season and that was to stay in the league – currently they are on their way to do this as they sit in 10th place with 23 points. The competitiveness of the league this season though means they are still only 6 points ahead of 18th placed Crystal Palace. The last 5 results have seen 2 defeats to Liverpool and Manchester United, 2 draws to Stoke and West Brom, and an empathic win against Fulham.
On many occasions this season I have spoken about Chelsea yet to hit their full potential on a consistent basis, but despite this they keep managing to pick up points and are only 2 points behind league leaders Arsenal. Since their loss to Sunderland in the League Cup Chelsea have won 4 of the 5 preceding games, a draw against Arsenal at the Emirates was the other result, and are set up for the title race in the second half of the season.
The only fresh injury concern for Hull is Paul McShane who has an ankle injury and is out for 4 weeks. Aluko and Brady are still unavailable with an Achilles and groin injury respectively.
Chelsea have no new injury concerns, but Lampard (muscle) and Ivanovic (knee) are yet again to set out for a month.
After seasons of occupying the back-up berth at Tottenham his transfer to Hull City has been the opportunity for Huddlestone to prove himself as a decent Premier League player – and he has.
With 37 tackles won and 80 ground duels won this season alongside completing the most passes for Hull (800), Huddlestone’s performances have drummed up talk of an outside chance of a place in the England World Cup squad this summer. A repeated performance against Chelsea will needed against the London club’s attacking talent if Hull are to get any points from the match.
A lot of attention has been on Juan Mata and his Chelsea future after being used sparingly by Mourinho this season, but the performances of Oscar have proved his worth to be in the team ahead of Mata.
Oscar’s positive play has seen him score 6 goals, making him Chelsea’s 2nd top goal scorer in the league, and create 22 chances for his teammates. The Brazilian midfielder’s all round play suits the way Mourinho wants his Chelsea team to be set up, despite not being physical, and can be seen by the number of times Oscar has won the ball in the attacking third (15) – the most by any Chelsea player.
This will be the third meeting between the two sides at the KC Stadium in the Premier League with previous results a 1-1 draw and 0-3 victory to Chelsea.
Hull’s defensive record (6 goals conceded) is the joint best alongside Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City.
Chelsea have picked up 14 points from losing positions this season – winning 4 and drawing 2.
If Chelsea fail to turn, like they have done at other tricky grounds this season (for example Stoke), they could be in for a difficult afternoon against a Hull team who have had some impressive performances against the ‘big’ sides. That said though, Hull haven’t always got any points despite their good performances and unfortunately for their fans I think this will be the case yet again.