Boxing Day marks the start of a busy period, perhaps the busiest period in England. Gus Poyet and Sunderland will resume their league campaign after a happy Christmas at the Stadium of Light on the back of a dramatic win over their arch rivals Newcastle away from home. It was a game Sunderland should have won comfortably to be fair with the amount of clear cut chances they managed to create throughout the game but only failed to produce the all important end product, which eventually happened in the 90th minute thanks to a stunning effort from Adam Johnson, a boyhood fan of Newcastle. That victory lifted them up to 14th on the league table with only 3 points separating them and 10th placed Liverpool. The home side will certainly be buzzing now going into this fixture against a rather distraught Hull City meaning a second successive win for them should not come as a surprise.
Hull City are winless now in their last ten games and find themselves languishing near the foot of the table as a result of that wretched run. The Tigers now officially find themselves in a relegation dogfight, but things could still get better for them before the new year if they manage to get something out of both the Sunderland game and the following fixture against rock-bottom Leicester City. They will go into this game with low spirits as one could imagine after a 0-1 home defeat to Swansea City. In addition to the poor form, the growing injury list is another worry for manager Steve Bruce but he has made the necessary steps already to soften the blow by recalling two of his players on loan to bolster his squad in Figureoa and Tom Ince. With them back and probably available for selection, Steve Bruce will be looking to turn the fortunes of the side ahead of 2015.
Sunderland have got pretty much the same squad to choose from with no new injury concerns after the Newcastle game. Gus Poyet should be expecting the return of Giaccherini and Jones to the squad after the respective injuries they suffered, although the Hull game could have come too soon for them to get involved in. Meanwhile, Reveillere and Van Aanholt are the long term absentees that could return to the fold in three weeks time.
As already mentioned above, injuries haven’t been kind to the manager and Hull City will be missing a few key players for this game. Diame being the notable absentee with a knee injury that would keep him out until the first week of February, they also miss key defender in Dawson who is suffering a hamstring problem which rules him out for another three weeks. Defenders Alex Bruce and Davies could return and be available for selection after suffering a minor knock while goalkeeper Harper will definitely miss out on the Boxing Day fixture owing to a persisting problem with his elbow.
- Sunderland have managed to get 6 points out of their last 6 home games with the two losses they suffered in that period coming against two of last season’s top four sides in Arsenal and Man City.
- Hull City have accrued only 3 points from the last 6 games on road with 3 draws while losing the other 3 and are placed 19th on the form table and the overall league table just above Leicester City.
- Sunderland have drawn 10 games this season so far – highest in the league by some distance.
- Both Sunderland and Hull have scored the same number of goals – 15 thus far but the home side have claimed 6 points more than the visitors with 4 teams separating them on the league table. Effective.
Adam Johnson – Sunderland
Adam Johnson is already a legend among the Sunderland fans after scoring a last minute winner against their bitter rivals across the road, Newcastle United. He’s had a slow start to this season though with just 2 goals in 14 appearances and no assists as yet. But the left footed wide player has created 16 chances and been the go to man to turn the game on its head, in that Sunderland team. The 27-year old has averaged a 78% pass accuracy on an average from that right flank and as someone with the ability to beat a man or cut inside to take a shot he’s attempted 13 shots in total – with 5 on target. He’s a big game player and holds the key for Sunderland, this Boxing Day fixture is a big one in all fairness, a game that will certainly be viewed as a chance to bag 3 more points and thereby ease the pressure going into the new year.
Ahmed Elmohamady – Hull City
The Egyptian midfielder/wing-back has been a constant source of chances for Hull City this season, from the right especially. With his characteristic skill to whip crosses into the box providing the ammunition to the aerially dominant players they have at their disposal in Jelavic and Dawson, Elmohamady has created an astonishing 20 chances out of which 2 were assists. The midfielder has had decent success as well in his 1 v 1 duels and has managed to maintain a 76% pass accuracy. His work rate down that right flank of Hull though is his biggest trait as the midfielder has so far been involved in the defensive side of the Tigers’ game, averaging 5 defensive actions per match with 53 (highest) out of Hull’s total of 696 clearances. If he can get some joy on that right flank of Hull and ping the balls in to Jelavic and cause havoc in the Sunderland penalty area, the Tigers can possibly come away with some much needed points and confidence.
I’m going for a draw on this one. Would that make it a 11th draw for Sunderland?
Sunderland 1-1 Hull City