I don’t know if there’s a Hull equivalent of Bjørge Lillelien but we may need to find one if the Tigers win this Premier League encounter.
The Norwegian commentator invoked Margaret Thatcher, Henry Cooper, Winston Churchill and a host of other historical figures when Norway beat England in 1981. A Hull win on Boxing Day would hold the same significance.
No matter which way you look at it, the City boys would indeed take “one hell of a beating”.
A couple of weeks ago, you wouldn’t have bet against it. Consecutive defeats against Chelsea and Leicester; Guardiola’s men were rolling. Now their rocking after successive wins over Watford and Arsenal. The latter was a big win. Not decisive but big.
Hull? They are relegation fodder. On the plus side, they are one more point ahead of the Premier League’s worst points total. Every cloud, etc., but how the devil can they beat Manchester City?
The Tigers hoped for better and Mike Phelan lauded their team spirit after wins in their opening two games this season. That’s been as good as its’ got for Hull. Since then in the Premier League, it’s been 11 defeats, 3 draws and a solitary win over Southampton in early November.
Bottom of the table and grateful that Bob Bradley’s reign at Swansea is mired in equally poor performances.
Hull’s biggest problem is defence. One clean sheet all season is not good enough and so far, the other three teams in the top four have scored eleven goals against them. They don’t expect points from those games but conceding fifteen in eight home matches destroyed their confidence as they came in consecutive games.
A summer when the club was in turmoil is reaping the season it warned of. It will take a massive turnaround in form to resurrect their fortunes and with Robert Snodgrass in a contract stand-off with the club, the future for 2017, looks bleak.
What a difference a week makes. Battered at Leicester and flattered by two late goals, Pep Guardiola knew a win against Watford would prove little; it was Arsenal which mattered. After fifteen minutes, he cut a baffled and disconsolate figure on the touchline, slumped in his seat unable to fathom where the form had gone. For the next twenty-five minutes, City were aimless, listless and more importantly, second best.
But Arsenal didn’t put them to the sword and Leroy Sane’s equaliser a minute into the second half was the perfect tonic. City were dominant, rarely troubled and deservedly won 2 – 1. It was the perfect tonic to a poor run of form and stopped City’s season from being derailed.
There’s a lot of ground to make up on leaders Chelsea but more than half the season remains and a seven-point gap whilst not insignificant, can easily close if the Blues draw a match. City’s task is to keep on winning.
And if they don’t win this match, they deserve the criticism they will receive. It’s an away banker, surely? Even without Sergio Aguero, City ought to have too much firepower for one of the Premier League’s most porous defences.
More importantly, the most Hull possess the most goal-shy attack which even with City’s creaking defence, ought to remain impotent.
That’s the concern for Guardiola. He sacrificed Joe Hart for the unconvincing Claudio Bravo and the question is whether the Chilean can withstand a good old-fashioned English barrage of crosses. He wasn’t convincing against Arsenal and the Gunners are hardly the biggest of sides.
Can Hull prod this weakness?
FORM (Last six games)
Hull City - LDLDLL
Manchester City - WWLLWW
- The two sides met on 26th December once before. Hull will be hoping for better than the 5 – 1 thrashing they received in 2008.
- Hull are unbeaten in their last three home games.
- City have scored more than 2.5 goals in seven of their last eight away games.
- Hull have won their last two Boxing Day matches, beating Burnley in 2015 and Sunderland in 2014.
- Robert Snodgrass has been involved in 7 (5 goals, 2 assists) of Hull’s last 14 goals while Raheem Sterling has been involved in 8 of City’s last 15 (5 goals, 3 assists)
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CURRENT MATCH ODDS [BEST PRICED ODDS]
HEAD TO HEAD
Last six meetings
01.12.2015 League Cup - Manchester City 4-1 Hull City
07.02.2015 Premier League - Manchester City 1-1 Hull City
27.09.2014 Premier League - Hull City 2-4 Manchester City
15.03.2014 Premier League - Hull City 0-2 Manchester City
31.08.2013 Premier League - Manchester City 2-0 Hull City
06.02.2010 Premier League - Hull City 2-1 Manchester City
Whichever way you look at it, there’s a strong case to be made for Manchester City to win this one. Both sides have a compelling need to win the game but in all honesty, this ought to be a cricket score.
And that is Hull’s strength, or at least their big hope. City could be complacent; turning up in a fixture like this is, 99 times out of 100, good enough to win. Perhaps Hull can capitalise on that.
Except Pep will have been working his players hard this week, building on the Arsenal win and losing this match undoes all the hard work. While defeat won’t end their title dreams, any realistic chance of City winning the title disappears if they don’t at the very least meet Chelsea’s chances.
This a ‘fill-your-boots’ moment in front of goal, one to make title rivals go, ‘Woah! City are back’. Nothing less will do.
Hull City 1 – 4 Manchester City (18/1 with Bet365 – Bet here!)
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Francois is one of Howtobet4free’s co-founders and has written many of Howtobet4free’s popular Betting Guides. Francois also helps run the @howtobet4free_ Twitter account