Hull City must take all three points at home to Manchester United on Sunday if they are to have any chance of staying in the Premier League (15:00 BST, live on Sky Sports 1).
Hull come into their season-defining match on the back of three straight defeats and having won just one of their last five matches at the KC Stadium. They are 18th in the Premier League table with 34 points from eight wins, 10 draws and 19 defeats.
Steve Bruce’s (pictured) men lost 2-0 away to Tottenham Hotspur last weekend. They struck the post through Nikica Jelavic in an otherwise uneventful first half but then succumbed to two well-crafted goals in a six-minute spell early into the second. They should have pulled one back during a frantic goalmouth scramble, but didn’t and eventually fell to yet another defeat.
Hull had looked well-placed to beat the drop following back-to-back wins over Crystal Palace and Liverpool in late April but three consecutive losses, including two on home soil, mean that they are now two points shy of Newcastle in 17th coming into the final weekend. Their limp 1-0 home defeat to Burnley two weeks ago was a bitter and unexpected blow.
The Tigers have a decent enough defensive record compared to the other teams in the bottom third of the table, but they have struggled for goals throughout the campaign. Their total of 33 represents the third-worst scoring record in the division, while Jelavic is their only player to have scored more than five. Summer signings have failed to produce.
Bruce will be without the injured Curtis Davies (thigh), Gaston Ramirez (hamstring), Mohamed Diame (knee) and Robert Snodgrass (knee) while Jake Livermore has been suspended by the club after failing a recent drugs test.
Man Utd travel to the east coast with just one win in their last five league matches and having won three and lost two of their last five away fixtures. They are fourth in the Premier League with 69 points from 20 wins, nine draws and eight defeats.
Louis Van Gaal’s side drew 1-1 at home to Arsenal last weekend in a result that ended any realistic hopes of pipping their opponents to third. They had by far the better of the first half and went ahead through Ander Herrera on the half-hour. Their visitors did, however, come back stronger after the break and equalised through a late own goal from Tyler Blackett.
That result, in combination with Arsenal’s 0-0 draw at home to Sunderland on Wednesday, means that United now have a three-point and seven-goal disadvantage to make up over the Gunners on the final day of the campaign. Arsenal host West Brom and it therefore seems likely that Van Gaal will have to settle for fourth at the end of his first season in charge.
The Dutchman, who provided an entertaining speech at the club’s end-of-season awards ceremony on Tuesday, was tasked with returning Champions League football to Old Trafford and has achieved that aim despite the varied quality of his side’s performances. With further recruitment likely this summer, he and Man Utd can be expected to return stronger next year.
Van Gaal will be without the injured Luke Shaw (face), Michael Carrick (calf) and Rafael (rib) while David de Gea (hip), Johnny Evans (knock) and Wayne Rooney (leg) are doubtful.
Hull v Man Utd Betting Tips
Man Utd were comfortable 3-0 victors when these sides met at Old Trafford in November and also won both of last season’s fixtures: 3-1 at home and 3-2 at the KC Stadium. Indeed, United have won all seven of the matches between the sides since Hull’s first promotion to the Premier League back in 2008, in what have usually been high-scoring encounters.
Bruce has a comparably poor record against United, having failed to win against the club he served so faithfully as a player during his 17 years of management to date. His side need to rediscover some of the spirit that saw them overcome Liverpool on home soil last month if they are to have any chance of beating the drop by taking all three points here.
While Man Utd still have a mathematical chance of overtaking Arsenal for third with a commanding victory on Sunday, realistically they have little to play for. In the circumstances, it is possible that Van Gaal could put out a mixed side that includes a couple of youth-team prospects alongside the first-team regulars.
Hull have to win to have any chance of beating the drop and even if they just fall short of that, they should be able to avoid defeat.
- Back Hull to win on the ‘draw no bet’ market @ 11/8 with Ladbrokes, Unibet or BetVictor.
- Six of the seven top-flight matches between these sides since 2008 have seen three or more goals, as have three of Hull’s last six home matches and four of Man Utd’s last six away matches. Back over 2.5 goals @ best odds of 17/20 with Betfair Sportsbook or BetVictor.