On August 24th, Mark Hughes Stoke City side travel to the KC Stadium to take on Hull City. The two sides had opposite fortunes on the opening day of the season, with Hull sneaking a 1-0 win and Stoke suffering a 1-0 loss. This match will have two former Manchester United Stalwarts facing off on the touchline in Steve Bruce and Mark Hughes. These two teams will both likely be in the relegation scrap this season and it is always crucial for those teams to pick up points from teams that will be in and around them.
Stoke are in the fantastic position of having no injury concerns in their side. Hull don’t have an injury crisis, but they do have a few players that are a doubt for the match. New acquisition Robert Snodgrass got the terrible news this week that he will be out six months with a dislocated knee. Alex Bruce is a doubt for the match after suffering a back injury against QPR. Liam Rosinior is another doubt with a nagging back injury.
In the last two games these two sides played against each other, both matches produced one goal. This fixture has never produced more than three goals. In the last three meetings only one team has scored. Basically, don’t expect a goalfest. In the 12 times the two teams have met there has never been a game where both teams have scored at half time. Stoke have the advantage in the head to head winning five games with Hull only winning two and five more ending in draws.
Hull’s key man is their midfield General, Tom Huddlestone. The formerly long haired Englishman has the technical ability many of the other Hull players do not. Huddlestone’s set piece delivery is crucial for this Hull side and he created more chances than any other Hull player from set pieces last season. The English international has the ability to control the game from midfield with his passing ability. The second most capped English u-21 player in history made 16 more key passes than any other Hull player last season and will be the key player in unlocking Stokes defence.
The main man in this new, more attacking Stoke City team is Marko Arnautovic. The Austrian winger was acquired from German side Werder Bremen on transfer deadline day last summer and made an impact in his first season. Arnautovic led the team in assists and chances created last term proving his worth immediately. The former Werder Bremen star had a reputation as a bit of a problem child, but he has not had those problems at Stoke and his shown his natural ability. He bagged four goals on top of the seven assists showing he is a goal threat as well as possessing ability when whipping in crosses from wide areas. After picking up Stoke young player of the year last season, Arnautovic will hope to push on and improve in his second season. After the team’s below par performance against Aston Villa on the opening day, Arnautovic will be vital if the Potters are to improve against Hull.
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This will likely be a tough game and could be decided by which team can keep their concentration defensively. Neither one of these sides are goal machines and it wouldn’t be surprising if this game came down to a set piece. After only two home teams won on the opening weekend of fixtures I would expect the results to return to the mean with the home sides picking up the points in the majority of the games. I can’t see more than two goals being scored in this game but I am going to go with a Hull win.
Prediction: 1-0 Hull
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