Friday 30th December 2016 – 20.00 – Sky Sports 1 HD
The first game of match round 19 and the kick off to the stacked New Year’s schedule see’s rock bottom Hull City host 7th place Everton on Friday Night Football.
It’s been 8 league games since Hull City picked up 3 points and they are in desperate need of a win, having only won 3 times so far this season. It means they are bottom of the league and history dictates that things are looking bleak. 21 of the 24 sides to be bottom of the league at Christmas have been relegated that season. Coupled with the fact that the Tigers are the lowest scoring team in the league with only 14 goals, January can’t come quick enough for Mike Phelan who will need to add to his squad in order to breathe some life into a team currently out of their depth.
Hull City have failed to score in 7 of their last 10 games. Things are looking poor up top so perhaps in need of strengthening the most, however they are also the only team left in the league not to have kept a clean sheet at home and have the 2nd worst defence in the league. It seems coming up against Romelu Lukaku could be something they could do without at the minute.
Lukaku has scored in 2 of his last 3 league appearances against Hull, and has had a hand in 8 of Everton’s 11 away league goals this season scoring 7 with 1 assist. And the history books look good for Everton who have found the net in 9 of their last 10 league games against Hull, although they failed to score in this fixture last January.
Both Hull and Everton have 6 players currently injured. Hull City are still without defender Alex Bruce and striker Will Keane who both could have contributed at both ends for the Tiger’s this season. Abel Hernandez is also an absentee who could be back within a couple of weeks.
Everton are still without big summer signing Yannick Bolasie who could be out for the majority of the season. James McCarthy and Maarten Stekelenburg are also doubts.
Everton will be looking to pounce on Hull City’s poor form and make it 2 league wins on the bounce for the first time in over 12 games. A morale boosting 2-0 win over champions Leicester could have come at the right time to gain momentum before their next game against Southampton who are just 2 points behind them in the league.
For Hull City the fixtures are coming thick and fast as they have an FA cup 3rd round tie and an EFL 2 leg semi-final against Man United coming up in Jan, they need to get players back to fitness as well as add to the squad to stand any chance of staying in the Premier League beyond this season.
By Michael Thatcher