Hull and Stoke looking to continue their revivals
With the likes of Crystal Palace, Sunderland and Fulham all showing better form under their new bosses, every point counts for all the teams from mid-table downwards looking over their shoulders and that includes the two Citys, Hull and Stoke, who clash on Saturday evening at the KC Stadium.
The teams lie side by side in 12th and 13th positions in the Premiership after battling out some decent results in recent weeks, but are by no stretch of the imagination safe from relegation; Hull are 13/5 to go down with Coral, which looks a realistic price, while Stoke are probably less comfortable than their odds of 6/1 implies.
With home advantage, Hull are 6/5 favourites to win this weekend with Stoke 23/10 and 9/4 the draw and Steve Bruce’s outfit will feel that they are owed a win after being rather unfortunate not to take all three points at Swansea last Monday.
A most welcome recent 3-1 victory over Liverpool apart, Hull have been having trouble putting the ball in the net this season, scoring less than one goal per game, but Danny Graham ended a 30-game drought against his old club in South Wales and perhaps that’s a sign that a corner has been turned.
Graham is 11/4 to confirm the ‘London bus’ theory and immediately come along with another goal, while strike partner Yannick Sagbo, who has impressed Bruce with his all-round contribution, is 7/4 to notch his third of the season (6/1 to score first or last).
Stoke surprised almost everybody when beating Chelsea 3-2 last Saturday, late substitute Oussama Assaidi settling the match with a 90th minute spectacular individual effort.
The Potters rode their luck a little and also benefited from some ordinary defending by the visitors, but it was never going to be plain sailing against a team of such quality and Mark Hughes’s team reaped their reward for going for all three points when others might have battened down the hatches for a draw.
With Hull facing Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea in the next month and Stoke’s next five fixtures all being against teams in the top half of the table, this is a game both sides will be desperate to get something from – points banked now might not seem so crucial, but they could turn out to be gold dust by the end of the season.
It’s not a game to call with confidence, but Hull might just nick it, maybe 1-0 (5/1).