Last weekend’s defeat to relegated Sunderland was a hammer blow to the Tigers’ hopes of remaining in the Premier League beyond this season. It was viewed as a ‘banker’ for Marco Silva’s men; three points they were expected to win. In typical City style it wasn’t to be as they delivered an unconvincing and nervy performance. There were shades of the defeat to Burnley two years ago. For a side that’s never won in May during their previous Premier League campaigns, City now face a difficult task to beat the drop with two games to go. What is the state of play for the Tigers?
Complacency will have disappeared:
If it hasn’t already, then Silva must drill it into his team that no game is a certainty. Oumar Niasse was fielding questions during a pre-game interview prior to the Sunderland match and you couldn’t help but feel he took the away side a little lightly. His focus appeared to be on scoring to reduce City’s poor goal difference rather than concentrating on the result. Silva was quick to dispel Niasse’s comments and you can only hope he has addressed this mentality ahead of a tough away day at Selhurst Park on Sunday.
Markovic absence is a blow:
Despite his inconsistent nature, losing Lazar for the remainder of the season will hinder Hull’s limited attacking options. Desperately lacking impetus on the wings for most of the season, Markovic and Grosicki have offered something a little different. The only positive is that Elmohamady may be able to start in his favoured position on the wing as Omar Elebdellaoui returns to the squad after a long-term back injury.
City are now the underdog:
Having been in the ascendancy for the last few weeks, suddenly Hull find themselves chasing a points deficit. There are two schools of thought on this; either players’ morale will drop as they mull on last week’s miss opportunity, or the fact that nobody expects them to escape may spur them on. Marco Silva strikes me as a good motivator and I don’t doubt they will deliver a much better performance on Sunday. Regardless of this, the Tigers are now relying on good fortune from results elsewhere but hopefully the nerves that debilitated their game against the Black Cats may be less apparent.
Silva is capable of weaving some magic:
My thoughts throughout the relegation run-in have always been that rivals Swansea probably have a technically stronger squad, while City have the more savvy Manager. This is no defamation of Paul Clement’s character as he has dug the Swans’ out of trouble but Silva’s task in January was far more steep. The progress in terms of defence, systems and style have been astounding given the resources at his disposal. His home form record is one to commend too. Marco is capable of rolling the dice again to deliver a result. However on Sunday he opposes one of the most experienced Premier League relegation figures in Sam Allardyce and it could be Silva’s biggest test yet as Manager.
Tigers must be clinical:
It’s been a subject that’s reared its ugly head for weeks intermittently but if Hull do not take their opportunities this week then they will almost certainly drop points and face relegation. Niasse, Abel Hernandez and Alfred N’Diaye were all guilty of missing crucial chances last week, albeit against an inspired Jordan Pickford in net. If there’s a day to turn the corner then Sunday is definitely it, otherwise Crystal Palace’s wealth of attacking outlets such as Christian Benteke and Andros Townsend will punish them.
By Callum Thompson