On December 26th, Manchester United will travel to the KC Stadium to take on Hull City. While United are still in a disappointing league position, the Red Devils have picked up some form with four wins on the trot, in all competitions. In those four wins, United’s defense has been much improved, allowing only one goal to be conceded. After a 2-0 loss to Arsenal, Hull have rebounded with three consecutive draws. Hull will try to keep up their strong home form, four wins, three draws, and only one loss at the KC Stadium, and get a result against United.
Both teams are dealing with some long term injuries to some key players; Hull will be without Robbie Brady, Sone Aluko, Joe Dudgeon, and Stephen Quinn who are all dealing with long term injuries and United will be missing some huge stars too in this match up as the injuries have piled up. The recently in form Danny Welbeck picked up a knee injury against West Ham and is a question mark for the game. Captain, Nemanja Vidic, is also a doubt as he is suffering with a knock. United will be without Robin Van Persie, Michael Carrick, Nani, and Marouane Fellaini who are all dealing with long term injuries.
Hull manager Steve Bruce made over 300 appearances for Manchester United in his playing days but, Bruce is yet to beat his old team as a manager. Bruce has faced United 18 times as a manager coming away with only four draws and suffering 14 defeats. Manchester United have come out victorious in the last seven meetings with Hull City. The last time Hull beat United was in November 1974, a season when Manchester United had been relegated to the second division. Hull have never beaten United in the top flight of English football.
For Hull to be successful in this game, Hull will have to win the midfield battle and the key to that will be Tom Huddlestone. United’s weakest area has been the center of midfield, especially since Michael Carrick has gone out through injury. If Hull are able to get anything from the game, Huddlestone will need to help control the midfield and create chances for Hull. Huddlestone has been Hull’s most creative player this season, he has created a chance every 53 minutes, and has been key as a set piece taker.
Huddlestone has created 15 chances from set pieces for Hull. Hull will try and take advantage of Huddlestone’s set pieces and hope that United’s defensive frailties on set pieces come back. Huddlestone has also done well to win possession for Hull. Huddlestone has won the ball back for Hull every 11 minutes and will hope to take advantage of the depleted Manchester United midfield.
Since his move from Tottenham, Huddlestone has given Hull that extra bit of quality in the midfield. Huddlestone and loanee Jake Livermore have the potential to take the game to the United midfield and help Hull get something from the game.
In the absence of Robin Van Persie, Wayne Rooney will need to be firing for Manchester United to hit peak performance levels. Rooney has been United’s main man leading them in goals assists and chances created.
Rooney has created a chance every 37 minutes and scored a goal every 160, a deadly combination of skills. Rooney has really been the man who has kept United a float in the league. Even at times when they have played badly this season,Rooney has been able to dig United out of a hole with a moment of brilliance we all know he can produce. He has also worked very hard for the team off the ball helping make up for some of their midfield deficiencies when he is put in that number 10 role.
That said, with Van Persie out, Moyes may stick Rooney up top to lead the line where he can be just as effective. Rooney can singlehandedly win this game for United but, if he doesn’t perform it could lead to United dropping even more points.
If you looked at this fixture in the preseason you would have thought it would be an easy three points. Now with United under performing and Hull doing better than expected it is not an easy game to pick. Hull have only been defeated once at home this season and United have not exactly been road warriors. That said, Manchester United possess a different quality than Hull do and will want that to show through. While Hull will put up a very good fight, I see Manchester United squeezing out a win against Hull.