On May 11th, Everton travel to the KC Stadium to take on Hull City. This is the final weekend of the Premier League and neither team really has anything riding on this game. It will be interesting to see what kind of team Steve Bruce fields vs Everton with Hull’s FA Cup final vs Arsenal looming on the horizon.
With the FA Cup final only six days after this game, Bruce may decide to rest some of his key players for this meaningless game vs Everton. That said, with both Shane Long and Nikita Jelevic unavailable for the final due to being cup-tied, Bruce may go for the opposite approach and try to build up some momentum going into the final. Everton will be licking their wounds after losing three of their last four games, crashing out of the race for the Champions League in the process. Bruce may see this as a chance to build up both momentum and the confidence of his Hull side going into the final.
Both teams will have a few guys on the treatment table. Everton will be without Kevin Miralles, Brian Oviedo, Lacina Traore, and Arouda Kone. Both Darron Gibson and Steven Pienaar are game time decisions. Sone Aluko, James Chester, Allan McGregor, Robbie Brady, and Joe Dudgeon will all be missing for Hull. Paul McShane is facing a late fitness test.
- Hull City and Everton have only played each other six times in the last 59 years.
- Hull have only beat Everton once in those last 59 years. That one time was a 3-2 victory in November 2009.
- The only player in the 18 still at Hull is defender Paul McShane, who looks likely to miss this clash with an ankle injury.
- In the reverse fixture this season, Everton came out with a 2-1 victory through goals from Steven Pienaar and Gareth Barry.
- Everton have the third best defensive record in the league while Hull have the second best defensive record outside of the top eight.
- Hull have had a problem scoring goals with only Crystal Palace, Cardiff City, and Norwich City scoring fewer.
Hull’s shrewd additions in the January transfer window were big reasons why Hull were able to stay in the Premier League. One of those additions, Nikica Jelevic, will make his first trip back to Goodison Park. Jelevic has been a key part of Hull’s success in the Premier League. In the first half of the season, the Tigers were toothless in front of goal. To remedy that Steve Bruce bought Jelevic and Shane Long in the January transfer window. Since arriving at the KC Stadium, Jelevic has scored four goals making him Hull’s joint top scorer along with Shane Long. Jelevic has added goals as well as an outlet to help release the pressure, and is a perfect foil for the smaller, faster, strikers like Shane Long and Sone Aluko. Jelevic is also able to hold the ball up for Hull and help bring other players into play. Although he will not be able to help bring them success in their cup final, Jelevic will hope to help bring Hull some success in their final game of their league campaign.
One main reason for the success of Everton has been bringing Romelu Lukaku in on loan on transfer deadline day. Since it was only a year long loan, this will be Lukaku’s last game for Everton. Lukaku has brought both an attacking focal point and goals that the team otherwise lacks. The Belgian has scored 14 goals (a goal every 177 minutes) and having someone with that strike rate was vital for Everton’s push up the table. Lukaku also provides a focal point that Everton do not have with Steven Naismith playing as striker. Lukaku’s finishing has been excellent with a 20% chance conversion rate and a 62% clear cut chance conversion rate, both better than any other striker at the club. Lukaku will be a big miss when he goes back to Chelsea, but he will try to make a good last impression to the Goodison Park faithful.
This could be a pretty dull game with neither team having anything to play for. Hull players will be looking to avoid injury before the cup final and could lack intensity. With both teams having had their league season run their course this could be a pretty dull affair, but I believe Everton’s quality will show through and push them to victory.
Prediction: 2-0 Everton