Monday 26th December – 17.15 – Sky Sports 1
The second of the two televised Premier League games this Boxing Day see’s the bottom team in the league Hull City host 3rd placed title challengers Man City.
Man City go into this game in high spirits following a great win over title rivals arsenal last week.
Guardiola’s City side showed a combative spirit to come from behind and take all 3 points off Arsene Wenger’s men, and actually bossed the 2nd half. This game is the start of a real busy Christmas and new year period with City taking on Liverpool on New Year’s eve, and hosting Burnley just 2 days later.
This will be the first time Pep would of experienced such a busy football schedule at this time of the year so will be interesting to see how he deals with it. With that said, other than the Liverpool game on New Year’s Eve, the fixtures have been quite good to City. Whilst absolutely no game in the premier league is a foregone conclusion, I just can’t see how Hull City will be able to get anything from this game.
Hull City found themselves bottom of the Premier League on Christmas Day. This is bad news for Mike Phelan as 21 of the 24 sides to be bottom of the league at Christmas have been relegated that season. Mike Phelan has a lot of work to do.
You’d think for Hull to get anything from the game they will need to be tight at the back and weather the early Man City wave of attacks. The longer the game goes on, the more Hull will gain confidence and grow into the game. This is easier said than done especially when you consider Hull City have conceded the first goal in 14 different Premier League matches this season; more often than any other side.
Hull will look to Robert Snodgrass for inspiration, who is having a good season despite the team being bottom of the league. Hull have only scored 14 league goals this season but Snodgrass has had his hand in 50% of those goals, scoring 5 and assisting 2. He’s also created the most amount of chances of any Hull player with 24.
But the Tigers haven’t had a win in 6 league games, although they did win on Boxing Day for the past 2 years, so perhaps that’s a positive to take into the game. They currently have 8 players unavailable through injury which makes this task even more difficult, although Ryan Mason should be back following a knock picked up last week.
Man City will see this as a must win with Chelsea looking so dominant at the minute, the thought of dropping points against a team at the foot of the table would not be acceptable. In fact Man City have lost just 1 of their previous 8 Premier League games against Hull City and I don’t see it changing in this match.
Man City seem to be out of their minor blip having lost 2 matches in a row a few games back, but consecutive wins against Watford and Arsenal have got them back on track.
Kevin De Bruyne has been in fine form for City, with a league high 9 assists so far this season. It took 25 appearances last season to amass 9 assists which gives some indication to how he is flourishing under Guardiola.
But he’s not the only player to show large strides since Pep took charge. Raheem Sterling has been involved in 8 goals in 15 Premier League appearances this season, the same number as in 31 appearances last season.
Hull City will need to try and nullify these two players to reduce their impact on the pitch.
Man City will be looking at a game like this not only take 3 points but also boost their goal difference as Chelsea are currently 8 goals better off. A good win for City here will set them up nicely for the game on New Year’s Eve against Liverpool.
By Michael Thatcher