Though they never hit top gear, Pep Guardiola has a wealth of talent at his disposal and the gap in quality was evident as the Tigers were well beaten 3 – 1. With that in mind, is there any cause for concern?
With regards to expectations probably not; any form of result would have been a bonus. However, the continuing poor away form is a worry going into a tough away fixture against Stoke. The Potters are a difficult nut to crack at home but realistically, City can ill afford to leave the bet365 Stadium with anything less than a draw.
The Tigers remain two points clear of 18th placed Swansea, who resemble a side in dire straits at the moment, so momentum must continue going into the final 6 games of the season. What can the Tigers do on Saturday to aid their survival mission?
Bring Huddlestone back into the equation: Any Hull City fan would have been forgiven for suspecting their side’s season was over after Huddlestone’s sending off against Everton. He had been a key cog in the Tigers’ revival up to that point. Three games have passed and surprisingly, partly down to the work of Sam Clucas, he hasn’t been missed. Nonetheless, his passing range and endeavour is vital and I suspect he will be back in the starting line-up.
Utilise the striking options available: It’s a refreshing scenario for Marco Silva to be in but he now has several striking options in his armoury. My instinct is that he’ll continue with Niasse and Hernandez as a strike pairing; afterall, they do seem to work reasonably well together. However, Dieumerci Mbokani has returned to fitness and Silva shouldn’t be afraid to throw him into mix at some point. His goal scoring record stands at 0 in 12 games but his hold-up play is often quite effective. Taking into account predecessor Mike Phelan often utilised him as a lone forward, his opportunities were never going to be huge. Don’t be surprised to see Shaun Maloney feature again in the latter stages either as an impact sub.
Right-back issue needs to be addressed: Can you imagine if Moses Odubajo and Andrew Robertson were both bombing down the channels? Injuries put paid to Odubajo’s season and it’s a positional issue that’s never been resolved in truth. We’ve known it all year but Elmohamady will never be any form of defender. He has been exposed countless times and Saturday’s calamitous own goal was just the latest in a series of errors. Omar Elabdellaoui is clearly lacking some fitness, while the less said about David Meyler in that role the better. A change needs to happen soon or Elmo could sadly prove the difference at the end of the season with his exploits. I sense if fit, Elabdellaoui will get another chance to prove himself against the Potters.
Harry Maguire must feature: The superlatives never stop for this young man and he deserves it. Having picked up a knock in the 4 – 2 win over Middlesbrough, Harry missed out against Man City. The returning Michael Dawson’s efforts were commendable but comparable to a player almost a decade younger than him, the difference in quality is apparent. Maguire is a galvaniser on the pitch; he does everything with an air of command. His availability could make all the difference in a sure to be physical game.
More consistency from Markovic: The tricky winger remains an enigma at the KCOM; sometimes brilliant, often ineffective. There’s no doubting his ability, as showcased against Arsenal and Middlesbrough in recent months but without consistency he could become a liability. Given that he plays in front of Elmohamady on the right wing too, his overall contribution is even more vital for the team. If anybody is capable of bringing the best out of Lazar though it’s Marco Silva. Watch this space.