The FourFourTwo Preview: Hull vs West Ham
Couldn't the pools panel sort this one out?
Hull are enjoying life in the Premier League so far. Coming from behind to beat Newcastle at St James’ is a feat the very best teams in the league would have been chuffed with – but for Steve Bruce it’s the kind of fillip that could define the Tigers’ season and send them on a we’re-a-newly-promoted-team run.
- Hull 1-0 Huddersfield (LC)
- Newcastle 2-3 Hull (Prem)
- Hull 1-1 Norwich (Prem)
- Man City 2-0 Hull (Prem)
- Leyton Orient 0-1 Hull (LC)
- Hull 1-0 Norwich (Prem)
WEST HAM FORM
- West Ham 3-2 Cardiff (LC)
- West Ham 2-3 Everton (Prem)
- So'ton 0-0 West Ham (Prem)
- West Ham 0-1 Stoke (Prem)
- West Ham 2-1 Cheltenham (LC)
West Ham come into the game doing their darndest to tip last season’s form book on its head. The Hammers were superb at home last season and disappointing on the road. Upton Park is no longer a comfort (two consecutive league losses), while away from home they’ve picked up points.
Saturday’s fixture could be a very negative encounter. West Ham will shut up shop and offer little going forward without the still-injured Andy Carroll – their last two away games have ended 0-0. Hull, meanwhile, haven’t exactly been scoring for fun, lacking the talent up front to make a real dent in the opposition.
This has all the hallmarks of a low-scoring affair, which could easily degenerate into the odd red card or two as both sides get frustrated with their inability to create much of anything.
Hull have lost centre-back James Chester after he damaged a hamstring in the win at Newcastle. He’d be a bigger miss if West Ham weren’t quite so toothless up front, but drafting in an able replacement like West Ham old boy Abdoulaye Faye should see them set at the back. Manuel Figueroa returns after compassionate leave.
West Ham are thanking their lucky stars for the rehabilitation of Ravel Morrison, as their other creative talents cling to the handle of the treatment room door, refusing to come out and play. Carroll’s injury remains an ongoing mystery to the medical profession, and consequently his lay-off continues.
Key battle: Sone Aluko vs Mark Noble
This game will be won in the middle of the park. Noble served his one-match ban when West Ham played Cardiff in their own Watching-Paint-Dry cup tie in midweek (actually it was a 3-2 thriller). But he'll have his work cut out facing Aluko, who should still be sky high after his fantastic winner against Newcastle.
The two players are key to making their teams tick, as the two screens below show how they link up the play.
Noble links across the middle of the park, whereas Aluko often looks to the wings to spread the play and bring the wide-men into the game. Reducing Aluko’s impressive pass completion rate (86.7% for the season) will be the responsibility of Noble and his midfield partner, Mo Diame.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- West Ham 2-1 Hull (Ch, Apr 12)
- Hull 0-2 West Ham (Ch, Nov 11)
- West Ham 3-0 Hull (Prem, Feb 10)
- Hull 3-3 West Ham (Prem, Nov 09)
- West Ham 2-0 Hull (Prem, Jan 09)
Hit me with your ugly stick, HIT ME! Seriously though, the technical areas at the KC will be treated to two men who definitely stuck their heads in where it hurts a few times in their career.
Unsurprisingly, both gaffers will expect their teams to relish the physical challenge presented by their opposition. Expect much blood and thunder plus the occasional bout of puce face syndrome after a dodgy refereeing decision. Jobs you don’t want on Saturday: fourth official at the KC.
The duo have faced off 13 times in the Premier League, with Bruce taking six wins to Allardyce's four.
Facts and figures
- Only Arsenal and Manchester City have been more clinical in front of goal than Hull (15.6% conversion rate) this season.
- West Ham are the only team to have seen all their goals scored by English players in the Premier League this season.
- The last time West Ham scored more than six goals in a league game was in October 1990 when they thrashed Hull City 7-1.
- West Ham are the only team yet to concede a goal in the opening hour of games this season.
- Hull’s last five Premier League home games have all seen fewer than three goals scored.
- Three of West Ham’s last six Premier League away games have ended 0-0.
- It is almost a year (October 1, 2012) since West Ham scored more than once in a top-flight away game.
- Hull have been involved in three of the six Premier League games to see fewer than seven corners this season.
- Since the start of last season, West Ham have a win percentage of 33% when Mark Noble plays (33 games) and 20% when he’s been absent (10 games).
- Tom Huddlestone could make his 150th Premier League appearance in this match.
Hull to edge it thanks to a penalty, own goal or momentary lapse of defending and continue a solid start to their Premier League return. 1-0.
Hull vs West Ham LIVE ANALYSIS with Stats Zone