Hull City will have all to play for in front of their supporters at the KC stadium when they face Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United on the final day of the season. It was a similar story six years ago when Hull lost 1-0 to United on the final day of the season and still survived but that won’t be the case, this Sunday. To make it clear, Steve Bruce will have to manage his Hull City to a win and hope Newcastle continue their wretched run they have been on and drop points against West Ham, to ensure survival. Hull City though, go into this game on the back of a poor run of form, one that would associate with a team that is going down, with 6 defeats in their last 8 games and will fight tooth and nail to give themselves a chance to stay up.
For Manchester United, the season is effectively over with fourth place secured, they might still have to respect the ongoing relegation battle between Hull and Newcastle and field a team that is at least close to a full strength eleven. Louis Van Gaal’s side did secure a Champions League spot when they narrowly beat Crystal Palace away from home after a run of three straight losses without scoring and will travel to the KC stadium on the back of a 1-1 stalemate at home against Arsenal. The boss will perhaps be concerned at the way in which his troops are finishing the campaign as they are nothing but limping toward the finish line and will definitely look to finish the season on a winning note.
Bruce announced that he has no fresh injury concerns for Sunday’s encounter, with Robert Snodgrass, Mohamed Diame and Gaston Ramirez the only absentees. This means that Nikica Jelavic, who came off after 62 minutes at White Hart Lane to spark fears over his fitness, having missed much of the season, is fit to start.
Meanwhile, Van Gaal confirmed Wayne Rooney would return to his first XI after missing the draw with Arsenal, but was less sure about goalkeeper David de Gea. The Spaniard came off late on last week before being replaced by Victor Valdes, but the Dutch manager said he was unsure whether or not De Gea would return this weekend. However, Jonny Evans and Luke Shaw are unlikely to feature.
Ominously for the hosts, United have won each and every one of the teams’ previous seven meetings, stretching back to the 2008-09 campaign. In those 7 defeats, Hull have scored just 8 compared to the Red Devils’ tally of 21. Van Gaal’s men won the reverse fixture 3-0 at Old Trafford back in November.
Nikica Jelavic – Hull City
Top scorer of the side, Nikica Jelavic is quite simply the most important player now at that Hull outfit that can perhaps bail them out of what is going to be an absorbing final game – with their top flight status on the line. He’s scored 8 goals for the side in 25 appearances and has managed to maintain a 31% shot accuracy, is expected to feature alongside January signing N’Doye and much of what Hull can come up with on Sunday depends on how the partnership clicks against Manchester United’s not so convincing center-halves.
Juan Mata – Manchester United
Mata’s had a very good season by all accounts with the midfielder scoring 9 goals this season and also creating 4 other, contributing to 13 goals in total which is his best return in the Premier League. His passing accuracy is unbelievable and typically Spanish as he’s maintained a staggering 90% passes successfully completed and also is his shot accuracy equally good and just under 50%. The 27-year old has managed to create 43 chances in open play including the 4 assists and also poses a serious threat in dead ball situations which is why he could be key to United’s chances of basically outscoring their opponents.
I expect the away to switch off a touch unless they field a refreshed side with a few youngsters while Hull City should and will go for it from minute 1 to 90. A low-scoring draw full of half chances for me.
Hull City 1-1 Manchester United