With Manchester City closing in on us in the Premier League table after the loss to Newcastle United, it has become very important for the Blues to try and grab all the three points in every game they play.
Jose Mourinho’s team will line up against a struggling Hull City side, at home on Saturday, who are trying their best to escape relegation at the moment.
Often, the teams from the bottom emerge out to be the surprise packages and Hull City may prove to be no exception. Chelsea, on the other hand, will see their No.1 position under serious threat with anything less than 3 points.
So let us have a look at the Hull City side in our Opposition Scouting Report:
THE TEAM AND THE RECENT FORM
Hull City A.F.C. is an English football club, founded in 1904, based in Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire. The club got its first ever promotion to the Premier League at the end of 2007-08 season but were relegated again from the top flight in 2010. They made a comeback into the Premier League at the beginning of 2013-14 season, and made it to their highest league position of 16th. The club’s greatest achievement in their history, came in April 2014 when they reached their first ever FA Cup final against Arsenal. After going 2-0 up in the first ten minutes, an Arsenal comeback saw their hopes of winning the competition get washed away, with the match ending at a final score of 3-2 in favour of the Gunners.
The team managed by Steve Bruce is currently placed at 18th position in the league table, with just 13 points from 15 games which include 2 wins, 7 draws and 6 losses. With a goal difference of -6, they have so far scored 15 goals in the competition and conceded 21. They have not won any of their last 8 league games, losing 4 and managing a draw in the same number of games. The team had something to cheer about when they played draw against Everton, Liverpool and Arsenal in these 8 fixtures, the other one coming in their previous game when they held West Brom to a 0-0 scoreline.
FORMATION AND STYLE OF PLAY
Hull City have been known to play in a 3-5-2 formation for a quite a while now. But before their last game, Steve Bruce seemed to have adopted a 4-4-1-1 formation in a couple of games. However in their previous game against West Brom, with defender Curtis Davies and midfielder Nikica Jelavic not fit enough to start, he switched back to the 3-5-2 formation. If the Hull boss is to continue with the same three man backline, Liam Rosenior could replace Davies at the back and Jelavic start could along with Abel Hernandez in the front.
As proof of what Hull City’s defence means to them, it was one of the main reasons behind the sacking of former Chelsea manager, Luiz Felipe Scolari. Hull, on their first trip to Stamford Bridge, held Chelsea to a 0-0 draw because of the heroics of goalkeeper Matt Duke. Such was the upset of the result, that Scolari was sacked merely 48 hours later. In this campaign too, they have bagged important points against Newcastle, Liverpool, Arsenal and Everton owing to their strong defence, all in away fixtures, since beginning the season with a victory at QPR. Also, one positive that the Tigers can derive from their last game, is a clean sheet in the 0-0 draw.
Nikica Jelavic, out from injury and his recent illness, and Abel Hernandez had not played together since the start of October, before Jelavic was brought on as a substitute against West Brom. Though they couldn’t find a goal, yet seeing them pairing up again was a huge sigh of relief and happiness for Steve Bruce and the Hull City fans. Their reaction after seeing their attacking partnership returning to action was justified by the stats. In the four games they have started together this season, either one of them has been on the mark and have earned their team 5 points. The last time these two started together was also the last time The Tigers registered a win, being a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace on 4th October. Together, they have scored 7 of Hull’s 15 league goals this season.
Hull’s defence, which is their biggest strength, can sometimes backfire and be their biggest weakness as well. In recent games, their defending against long shots and skillful players has been considerably very weak at times.
Although Jelavic-Hernandez partnership will be in a perfect shape before the game tomorrow, if either one of them has a bad game or remains unavailable to start, the other himself remains ineffective throughout the game. Especially if Jelavic is unable to perform, Hernadez can be overpowered by Chelsea’s defence quite easily. These two are at their best only when they get each other’s support. Needless to say that Jose must have already instructed his defenders to control Jelavic’s runs, who is known for tearing apart defences to make way for Hernandez.
HEAD TO HEAD
The Blues and The Tigers have come face to face 35 times throughout their history. The West Londoners clearly dominate the head to head stats of the fixture with 24 wins. Hull have only got better of them on 4 occasions, while 7 games have ended in a draw.
The clash between a side trying to remain in the top flight, and a team trying to retain their 1st position and dominance in the League, can produce some amazing moments in these 90 minutes. Chelsea should not have any trouble in registering yet another home win though.
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Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni