After differing results in the FA Cup, it is a return to league action for these two sides. Manchester City need to focus on the league after their plethora of cup matches in recent weeks. They will be very disappointed by their loss to Wigan in the FA Cup and they’ll be hoping to keep the pressure on Chelsea this weekend. Hull’s past two weeks have been dominated by the fall out from that Alan Pardew incident and the club reaching Wembley for the first time since 2008, when the club won the Championship play off final. They are still not completely clear of danger, therefore they will still be looking to pick up points this weekend against a City team that has been fragile in recent months.
Hull will come into the match in great spirits after beating Sunderland 3-0 in the FA Cup quarter final, and they will be hoping they can maintain winning ways against the Capital One Cup winners. They sit in 13th place, which is still only five points clear of the relegation zone, therefore the side needs a couple more wins to secure their Premier League status. Steve Bruce’s men have been inconsistent recently, taking 7 points from their last five matches. Their last Premier League match saw the Humberside outfit easily beaten 4-1 by Newcastle. Although Pardew took the headlines, Hull were poor and they will need to play a lot better on Saturday to have any chance of taking something from the match.
Manchester City are in 4th position, but they have games in hand over their rivals and if they win all of them, they will go top of the league, so their fate remains in their own hands. After the disappointment in the FA Cup, Manuel Pellegrini can’t afford to lose the ascendancy in the title race as it could lead to the Manchester City fans turning on him. The Chilean has a poor record when it comes to picking up trophies and if he is to be successful at the Etihad, he needs to consistently challenge for silverware. He started well by winning the Capital One Cup, but he needs a big trophy to really consolidate his position. If they are to win the title this season, they need to win this match, as they recently dropped points away to Norwich and they can’t afford a repeat performance on Saturday.
In their meeting earlier in the season, Manchester City triumphed 2-0 with Alvaro Negredo and Yaya Toure netting the goals. Hull played very well that day, frustrating the home side for long periods. If they repeat that performance against a Manchester City team that is lacking in confidence and form, Hull could have a great chance of beating Pellegrini’s men.
Hull City have the best defensive record in the bottom half, conceding only 35 goals. This is the fewest number of goals in the bottom half, showing Hull’s resilience and strength at the back.
Manchester City have the best goal difference in the division at +42. This could be extremely important come the end of the season if the title race goes down to the wire and needs to be decided by goal difference like in the 2011/12 campaign.
Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic have given Hull a huge boost since signing for the club in January. They have immediately clicked and played some great football as a pair with both finding the net on numerous occasions. The former West Brom striker is used more as a support striker in the current Hull line up, as he drops off and helps the midfield. It’s clear to see he is the more creative of the pair as he is creating a chance every 48 minutes in a Hull shirt. Steve Bruce will need him to drop back into midfield and help contain the Manchester City attackers when Hull aren’t in possession. He will also need Long to hold the ball up and bring his team-mates into play when the side are attacking; the Irishman poses the biggest threat to the Manchester City defence as he can create and score goals. He has scored twice since his move to the Humberside outfit and he will be looking to add to his tally this weekend.
Yaya Toure is one of the most important players in the Manchester City side. His personal performance normally has a huge effect on the final result, therefore they need him firing in the run in, otherwise, they risk missing out on their second Premier League title after many considered them favourites. He has scored 13 times, which is a lot considering he has been used mainly as a central midfielder behind two strikers, but the fluidity of the system at City allows him to get forward. The Ivorian is extremely important in both a defensive and offensive sense for the Capital One Cup winners. He will be up against a tough central midfield of Tom Huddlestone and David Meyler, so the former Barcelona player needs to have a good game to ensure his side picks up a vital three points.
Jake Livermore could be back from his hip problem this weekend. Paul McShane and Robbie Brady are expected to miss out. Their new strikeforce of Jelavic and Long will return to the side after being cup-tied for the FA Cup quarter final. Yannick Sagbo and Matty Fryatt will be hoping to feature at some stage after impressing in the FA Cup.
Matija Nastasic is set to miss out again as his lengthy injury absence continues. Martin Demichelis will be available for selection after missing the Champions League match in mid week through suspension. Sergio Aguero could be missing after his hamstring injury flared up again during the Champions League match against Barcelona.
I think Manchester City will win comfortably as the Premier League title is now in sight. They will know it is important not to drop points between now and the end of the season as Chelsea look to be hitting a rich vein of form. City have been poor over the last few months, but they are still in a great position to win the title. They now only have the league to focus on which does increase the importance of winning the trophy. Hull may not be able to repeat their FA Cup performance on Saturday and they have to be at their best to beat Manchester City. Hull only need a couple more wins to secure Premier League safety, so this match is more important for Manchester City than it is for Hull.
3-1 Manchester City