The FourFourTwo Preview: Hull vs Stoke
A game unlikely to get top billing on Match of the Day.
- Lokeren 1-0 Hull (EL)
- QPR 0-1 Hull (Prem)
- Stuttgart 1-2 Hull (F)
- Hull 2-1 Trencin (EL)
- Trencin 0-0 Hull (EL)
- Stoke 0-1 Villa (Prem)
- Freiburg 1-1 Stoke (F)
- Stoke 2-0 Real Betis (F)
- Blackburn 1-1 Stoke (F)
- Burton 0-0 Stoke (F)
The fine line between success and failure in the Premier League was clearly demonstrated by these two teams on the opening day of the season. Hull came out on top of a 1-0 scoreline in the battle of the 3-5-2s at Loftus Road, despite being dominated for long periods by QPR and only threatening occasionally themselves.
Stoke were the victims of another smash and grab at the Britannia, bossing possession and losing to Aston Villa’s only shot on target.
That Stoke only managed two goal-bound efforts themselves tells you where their problems lie. It was – and is – hoped the signing of Mame Biram Diouf would remedy last season’s problems in front of goal, and although Mark Hughes insists the former Manchester United man is under no pressure to hit the ground running, it sure would help. As would an improvement on last season’s dismal away form.
The Tigers have similar problems. Like Stoke, they won just thrice on the road in 2013/14 and scored seven league goals fewer. They clearly lacked a focal point up front against QPR, having sold Shane Long to Southampton. Steve Bruce says he intends to spend that money on more firepower. He needs to.
New Hull signing Robert Snodgrass will be out for up to six months, having dislocated his knee against QPR. Defender Alex Bruce was forced off with a back injury at half-time, but full-back Liam Rosenior could return after a similar injury. Striker Yannick Sagbo serves the last game of a two-match ban he received for showing his support on social network for Nicolas Anelka’s controversial ‘quenelle’ gesture.
For Stoke, defender Andy Wilkinson is still missing after a recurrence of a groin injury in pre-season, but attacker Victor Moses could make his debut after joining on loan from Chelsea last week.
Key battle: Curtis Davies vs Bojan
Davies was the Tigers’ outstanding performer last season, his consistency even sparking talk of an England World Cup call-up. As the graphic shows, he was forced to defend deep a lot against QPR, but held firm despite losing a few aerial duels further upfield.
Bojan was known as a goal-machine in his younger days at Barcelona, but was used by Hughes in a free role against Villa. He was lively, too but, as the graphic shows, rarely got into the opposition box where he’s built his reputation. He could cause the much taller Davies problems if he’s allowed to play off Diouf more.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Stoke 1-0 Hull (PL, Mar 14)
- Hull 0-0 Stoke (PL, Dec 13)
- Stoke 2-0 Hull (PL, Apr 10)
- Hull 2-1 Stoke (PL, Nov 09)
- Hull 1-2 Stoke (PL, May 09)
“It’s not right to say that we’re pals, that’s for sure,” said Bruce of Hughes last season. The two weren’t close as players and fell out over moves involving Robbie Savage and assistant coach Mark Bowen earlier on in their management careers. The former Old Trafford team-mates have more in common than they might care to admit, though, given their teams’ aforementioned similar weakness, not to mention fans who expect far more than just Premier League survival these days. A 0-0 and a 1-0 Stoke home win from last season don’t bode well for those supporters who expect entertainment.
Facts and figures
- 180 minutes of football between Hull and Stoke in the Premier League last season produced a total of just 1 goal (from Peter Odemwingie).
- James Chester has only ever had 3 shots on target in the Premier League but has scored 2 goals.
- Stoke have lost just 1 of their last 10 games against The Tigers (W4 D5).
More FFT Stats Zone facts
We’re ‘optimistic’ it won’t be 0-0. 1-1.