Hull City welcome Southampton to the KC Stadium on Tuesday night for a midweek Premier League fixture. Hull come into the game on the back of a 2-0 win against Sunderland. This win ended a run of five games without a victory for the Tigers and moved them up to 11th in the process. With the bottom of the table being so tight, they are only four points above the relegation zone. A win against Southampton will move them to within three points of the Saints. Southampton have been recovering from a tough December period where they only gained three points from a possible twenty-one. They are now unbeaten in their last five and will hope to continue this good run against Hull.
Both teams go into the game with the smallest injury lists in the Premier League. Hull are without defenders James Chester (Hamstring) and James Dudgeon (Knee). Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic should continue up front for the Tigers. Southampton will be missing midfielder Gaston Ramirez (Ankle) and defender Dejan Lovren, (Ankle) after both were injured against Sunderland in January. Midfielder Victor Wanyama is in contention for his first start since returning from injury.
When the teams met earlier in the season, Southampton came out on top with a 4-1 victory. Southampton were flying at the time sitting in 3rd place, but they have only gained fourteen points from a possible forty-two. The last meeting between the two sides was their first in the Premier League and their first in the top division of English football. Hull have only beaten Southampton once in their last fifteen meetings in all competitions. Southampton have one five of the last six league meetings, drawing the other. Hull are unbeaten when they have faced the Saints in February.
Shane Long has had a good start to his Hull City career. The Irishman has managed two goals in his three starts since joining from West Brom in the January transfer window. Long, along with Nikica Jelavic, was drafted in by Tigers manager Steve Bruce in order to bring some Premier League experience to their front line. He has responded by scoring both of his only clear cut chances for his new club. His partnership with Jelavic has looked promising, and between the two of them they could have a big hand in confirming the Tigers safety. Hull’s top scorer this season is Robbie Brady and before Long’s arrival Sagbo was the clubs top scoring striker with two goals. Long has equalled that total already and with a good number of games left this season, he will be looking to add to his total.
Jay Rodriguez has been in fine form for the Saints this season. The forwards performances earned him an England call up earlier on in the season, and since then he has gone from strength to strength. Rodriguez has ten Premier League goals this season, making him the clubs top scorer. Rodriguez has managed to score seven goals in his last twelve games, which is a goal in just under every two games. He has also contributed three assists this season, which has shown how vital his contribution is for Southampton. Rodriguez has been direct and shown some great finishing, forming a good relationship with Adam Lallana and Ricky Lambert on the field. The confidence that Mauricio Pochettino has placed in him has seen him start 22 games this season. Rodriguez did not score in the fixture earlier in the season, but he has managed to score against Hull for Burnley at the KC Stadium two seasons ago. He will hope to get on the score sheet again on Tuesday night.
The teams go into the game with varied form but the same objective. A win for Hull with move them a step closer to safety on their first season back in the Premier League. A win for Southampton should all but guarantee their Premier League survival, but also give them the belief that they can move further up the table. With Newcastle in a decline, Southampton will believe that 8th place is a realistic finish for them this season. Southampton’s excellent record in this game must be taken into account for this fixture. As well as this, their away record and the form of Rodriguez, Lallana and Lambert should see them through. A 2-1 Southampton win is my prediction for this one.