The race for 17th place and Premier League survival is effectively now down to a direct five game shootout between the Tigers and the Swans. Back in 2003 the fight between these two teams wasn’t a case of Premier League survival it was a case of SURVIVAL pure and simple. Back then the Swans had to beat the Tigers at the Vetch Field to ensure they stayed in the football league. Courtesy of a James Thomas hat-trick they duly beat the Tigers 4-2 and the first step on the rise to the Premier League was taken.
Fast forward to 2017 and both sides are now embroiled in a five game shootout to decide who keeps that coveted place in the richest league in the world and who takes the potential first step on the slippery slope.
Hull City at present are in that 17th seat in the Premier League with a 2 point grip on survival but are at presenting relying solely on home points to keep that place. Currently on a 16 game win-less away streak, ANY points away to Southampton (29/4) or Crystal Palace (14/5) in the penultimate game of the season, could be the most important away point of this or any season in the club’s recent history. The home fixtures for the Tigers are eminently winnable, Watford next Saturday are safe in tenth with little chance of a significant rise or drop in the league. The 6th of May Sunderland who will be condemned to relegation by then visit the KCOM and hopefully for City will be ‘on the beach’ by then.
The hardest and last game of the season comes against a Spurs side who are scoring at will but might, if next weekend’s FA Cup semi final versus Chelsea goes in their favour have one eye on the final. Spurs look nailed on to finish 2nd behind Chelsea in the League and that race will be over before they visit the KCOM, so the Tigers have a real chance to take 9 points at least between now and the 21st May.
If that is the case the Swans will need a minimum 11 points from their five games to pip the Tigers. We are talking about the with the worst two defences in the league, City have conceded 67 to the Swans 68, though Swansea have a marginal better goal difference (-31) then the Tigers (-33) so it looks like who can score more in the next five games.
The pressure will be on Fernando Llorente and Oumar Niasse to deliver the golden goals to keep their respective sides in the land of milk and honey. In an injury hit season Llorente has found the net 11 times for the Swans and Niasse 4 for the Tigers but has played less games then the Swans hitman. The question is can the Swans keep Llorente and for that matter their talisman Gylfi Sigurdsson fit and firing? and the Tigers need Niasse and Abel Hernandez the same. Niasse is getting into positions to score but at times wasteful and at this time of the season that is damaging.
The Swans last 5 games also consist of 3 at home and 2 away, starting with Stoke City next week at the Liberty, followed by a trip to Old Trafford (30/4) where they have had relative success in recent years and Man Utd seem to find it hard to put teams away at the Theatre of Dreams, especially this season. Everton who are still in the hunt for a European place visit Wales (6/5) so will be looking to win against the Swans. Next up on the penultimate game of the season, presents a great chance for Paul Clements men to pick up away points when they travel to the (by then) dead and buried Sunderland before entertaining WBA on the last day of the season.
This fight could go down to the very last day, but all the Tigers have to do is match the Swans results between now and mid May.
Premier League survival is on a knife edge, just like for one side football league survival was 14 years ago.