The FourFourTwo Preview: Hull vs Tottenham
Tom Huddlestone, Tom Huddlestone, TOM HUDDLESTONE!
Despite Tottenham's fine away form this season (their eight wins on the road this campaign is a league high), the Lilywhites may be excused for feeling a little uneasy ahead of their weekend trip to Hull.
- Palace 1–0 Hull (Prem)
- Southend 0–2 Hull (FAC)
- Norwich 1-0 Hull (Prem)
- Hull 0–2 Chelsea (Prem)
- Middlesbrough 0–2 Hull (FAC)
- Tottenham 1–5 Man City (Prem)
- Swansea 1–3 Tottenham (Prem)
- Tottenham 2–0 Palace (Prem)
- Arsenal 2–0 Tottenham (FAC)
- Man Utd 1–2 Tottenham (Prem)
Not only did Spurs suffer another potentially demoralising hammering in midweek, but their opposition on Saturday have generally proved difficult for the division's big hitters to tame - Spurs need only look to Liverpool's 3-1 defeat at the KC Stadium in November for proof of that.
Yet in the 10 league games since that famous victory - Hull's first ever against the Anfield outfit - Steve Bruce's side have won just once (a 6-0 rout of Fulham) and are currently on a run of four straight defeats.
This run may have have seen Hull slip as low as 13th in the league, but the gap between them and the bottom three is closing fast. They simply cannot afford to become complacent following an impressive first half of the season.
The key tactical question ahead of this fixture is how Spurs boss Tim Sherwood reacts to Hull's 3-5-2 system. He may well opt to ditch the 4-2-3-1 formation he used in the two most recent matches against Swansea and Manchester City, and instead revert to the 4-4-2 that quickly became his trademark in his first month in the job.
Hull No.1 Allan McGregor will serve the first match of a three-match ban following his red card at Crystal Palace on Tuesday night. The Tigers will also be unable to call on midfielder Jake Livermore, on loan from Spurs, due to Premier League rules. Defender James Chester is out with a hamstring injury, while Sone Aluko is likely to remain sidelined with an Achilles problem.
Danny Rose is available after his red card against Man City was rescinded. Andros Townsend (hamstring) and Erik Lamela (thigh) are both out, but several Spurs stars are said to be nearing a return to first team action. Jan Vertonghen, Paulinho, Sandro and Younes Kaboul all played in a behind-closed-doors friendly at West Ham last week, but it is unclear whether any of the quartet are ready to make a first team return.
Player to watch: Steve Harper (Hull)
With Allan McGregor sat on the naughty step, the veteran former Newcastle benchwarmer will take his place between the sticks. Harper actually played in the reverse fixture at White Hart Lane in October and performed admirably. The 38-year-old made a string of good saves (5 saves in total) as Spurs were left frustrated. The north Londoners were only able to find the net and seal a 1-0 win through a late Roberto Soldado penalty.
He didn't fare quite so well in his most recent top-flight start at Southampton in November. He conceded from 4 of Southampton's 7 shots on target, saving just 2 (1 was blocked on the line).
Spurs are scoring more freely and playing more expansive football than they were earlier in the season, and should be able to cause the experienced stopper a few problems.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Spurs 1–0 Hull (Prem, Oct 13)
- Spurs 0–0 Hull (Prem, Jan 10)
- Hull 1–5 Spurs (Prem, Aug 09)
- Hull 1–2 Spurs (Prem, Feb 09)
- Spurs 0–1 Hull (Prem, Oct 08)
Steve Bruce has won just three of his 18 managerial meetings with Spurs, drawing five and losing 10. His most recent success over the north Londoners came in April 2010, when his Sunderland team won 3-1 at the Stadium of Light thanks in part to two Darren Bent goals. The Tottenham strike-partnership that afternoon was the less than intimidating Roman Pavlyuchenko and Eidur Gudjohnsen.
Tim Sherwood has never lost a game to Hull as a manager.
TIPS & TRENDS
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Facts and figures
- Only 1 of the last 6 meetings between Hull and Spurs has ended as a home win (3 away wins, 2 draws).
- Tottenham have won their last 5 Premier League away matches, their best run since 1960.
- Hull have been level at half-time in their last 6 home matches.
- George Boyd is the most used substitute in the division this season (15 times).
- Spurs have had Over 2.5 goals in their last 6 away matches.
- Since putting 6 past Fulham; Hull have gone 4 league games without a goal.
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Another frustrating day for Spurs. 1-1.