The FourFourTwo Preview: Hull vs Cardiff
A different kind of six-pointer between last season's Championship top two.
One of the adjustments facing promoted teams is that last season's hardest opponents become this season's best chance of three points. As it happens, last time these two met – at the 2012/13 Championship climax – Cardiff were already champions. They almost spoilt Hull's party with a dramatic late draw at the KC Stadium, only for Watford's defeat by Leeds to grant the Tigers promotion.
- Man City 2-0 Hull (Prem)
- Leyton Orient 0-1 Hull (LC)
- Hull 1-0 Norwich (Prem)
- Cardiff 0-0 Everton (Prem)
- Accrington 0-2 Cardiff (LC)
- Cardiff 3-2 Man City (Prem)
Cardiff's title win was built on an impressive home defence - none of the 92 teams conceded fewer on their own turf last term - and they've already taken four points from the visits of Manchester City and Everton. But Malky Mackay's team were also the Championship's second-highest scorers on the road, and after a false start in the opening 2-0 loss at West Ham, they'll want to show they aren't just homebirds.
Hull won't be too worried by beatings to nil at Stamford Bridge and the Etihad Stadium, as long as they can win home games against "the likes of" Norwich - and Cardiff. Last time out at the KC the Canaries were squeezed out 1-0 despite having an extra man for an hour, reflecting Hull's steely determination of last season, when they won 21 of the 23 games in which they scored first.
Hull welcome back half-man, half-tank Abdoulaye Faye from a calf injury, although he may not dislodge Curtis Davies and James Chester. Sone Aluko is also back in contention, while Allan McGregor and George Boyd should run off the pesky groin and ankle problems that kept them off Scotland duty. But deadline loanee Gedo lacks match fitness: "Maybe a week or two," says Bruce, declining him game time.
Cardiff's own Scotland keeper David Marshall limped off in Macedonia with hip-jip – and whereas Hull could call on Steve Harper to replace McGregor, the visitors would choose between Joe Lewis or Simon Moore. Elsewhere, Mackay can also call on Peter Odemwingie and Kevin 'call me KTC' Theophile-Catherine.
Player to watch: Ahmed Elmohamady (Hull)
Going from second-tier wing-back to top-flight full-back could spell disaster, but Ahmed Eissa Elmehamady Abdelfattah Aly Eissa – as his Premier League registration card has it – has been around the block.
In all three league games so far, the Egyptian has been Hull's top passer (averaging 54 successful passes from 63 attempts per game) and top attacking-third passer (averaging just over 14 from 18), while weighing in with plenty of tackles, interceptions and ball recoveries.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Hull 2-2 Cardiff (Champ, May 13)
- Cardiff 2-1 Hull (Champ, Nov 12)
- Cardiff 0-3 Hull (Champ, Mar 12)
- Hull 2-1 Cardiff (Champ, Oct 11)
- Hull 0-2 Cardiff (Champ, Feb 11)
Mackay could do worse than pick Bruce's brain about establishing a promoted team in the top flight: leading Birmingham, Wigan and Sunderland to mid-table comfort looks impressive in retrospect.
Bruce sprang a surprise for last season's final match by abandoning his successful back-three formation; could Faye's return tempt him to switch back at some point?
Facts and figures
- Hull have attempted fewer shots than any other side in the Premier League so far this season (16 excl. blocked).
- No side have played a higher proportion of their passes long in the 2013/14 Premier League than Cardiff (16.3%).
- Only Fulham (17) and Hull (16) have attempted fewer shots than Cardiff so far in the 2013/14 Premier League (20).
- Hull have lost just one of their last four league clashes with Cardiff (W2 D1).
- Three of the seven goals scored between the two teams last season were scored inside the final 10 minutes.
- The Tigers’ last four Premier League fixtures have produced just five goals.
- Only Watford (39) picked more up points on the road than Cardiff (36) last season in the Championship.
- Both of Hull’s goals in all competitions this season have been scored by Robbie Brady.
- Last season, Maynor Figueroa – then at Wigan, now at Hull – was the only player to concede as many as three penalties in the Premier League.
- Both teams were promoted last season from the Championship despite not boasting a single player to reach double figures for goals scored.
- Cardiff only failed to score 6 times in 46 Championship games last season, the lowest in the division; Hull were goalless in 12 of 46 games.
1-1. Cardiff bag an early one but Hull grind back into it, and nobody's particularly happy.