The Steve Bruce Cup.
As Steve Bruce runs his finger down the list of Hull's available players for this Saturday’s fixture, he may start to feel the darkness closing in around him. Getting a competent starting XI together out of an injury-ravaged squad is where managers really start to earn their wages.
Tottenham p2-2 Hull (LC)
Tottenham 1-0 Hull (Prem)
Everton 2-1 Hull (Prem)
Hull 0-0 Aston Villa (Prem)
Hull 1-0 West Ham (Prem)
Sunderland 2-1 N'castle (Prem)
Swansea 4-0 Sunderland (Prem)
Sunderland 1-2 Man Utd (Prem)
Sunderland 1-3 Liverpool (Prem)
Sunderland 2-0 P'boro (LC)
Bruce will be deeply conscious of the huge good vibe wave Sunderland have been riding since beating Newcastle, giving new Mackem gaffer Gus Poyet a great platform to build on for the game this week. In all honesty, Bruce could have done without the trip to London for cup tie against Spurs, despite the rousing performance. How will those tired legs feel come 3pm on Saturday?
Over on Wearside, the dust has settled on that famous victory over Newcastle, and Poyet’s key to the city has been hastily put away as Sunderland fans reacquaint themselves with the league table and long winter ahead. Put simply, the Uruguyan is unlikely to find himself in a better position to take three points on the road this season: just beaten your biggest rivals, squad of players jostling for a starting berth under a new manager and facing depleted opposition who three days previously put in 120 minutes and penalties, only to lose.
If you’re a Tiger and fancy a game on Saturday, bring your boots – you might get a game. The biggest miss could be Robbie Brady, who’s been pulling the strings for Hull this season. Also out are Sone Aluko, Alex Bruce, James Chester, Danny Graham, Robert Koren and Allan McGregor. Jake Livermore will make a welcome return having been kept out the last two matches against his parent club, Tottenham.
Sunderland have Steven Fletcher fully back and firing again, which will give their season a very different complexion. He even took a solid knock to his previously knacked shoulder during the Newcastle game and kept on ticking.
Player to watch: Jake Livermore (Hull)
As one of the remaining fit players that Bruce can call on, much weight will rest on Livermore’s shoulders for this fixture. The box-to-box midfielder will need to put himself about both creatively and as a goal threat, particularly in the final third.
The two screens show Livemore’s attacking actions in Hull’s home games against Norwich and Cardiff . He needs to be more consistent and turn a couple of those arrows yellow (indicating assists). Livermore’s big problem against Sunderland will be how safe Bruce wants to play it. If he sets them up to not lose (which would be understandable considering his lack of options), Livermore will endure a frustrating afternoon.
Hull 0-1 S'land (Prem, Apr 10)
S'land 4-1 Hull (Prem, Sep 09)
S'land 1-0 Hull (Prem, Apr 09)
Hull 1-4 S'land (Prem, Dec 08)
S'land 2-0 Hull (C'ship, Mar 07)
The honeymoon period will be short for Poyet, particularly if he fails to get something out of this game. For now he’s marshalling a team moving in the preferred direction of up – something he’ll be reinforcing prior to kick-off.
Bruce can expect a rough ride from a full away end as the travelling Mackems recount merry days of his tenure at the Stadium of Light. Hull fans will understand the size of Bruce’s job today and realise that chucking everything they’ve got behind the team is the best they can give the gaffer come 3pm.
Facts and figures
- On home soil, Hull remain unbeaten this season (W2 D2), conceding just one goal in the process.
- Sunderland have won each of their last six league encounters with Hull.
- Jozy Altidore, now a Sunderland player, was sent off playing for Hull the last time this fixture was played (April 2010).
- There have been four red cards in the last three league meetings between the Tigers and Black Cats in Hull.
- Hull have only lost two of the nine previous Premier League games they’ve played in November.
- Hull are the only team yet to score a goal from outside the box.
- The Tigers are the lowest scorers in the top half of the Premier League table.
- Sunderland have recorded one win from their opening nine games for the second successive season (record in 2012/13 was W1 D6 L2)
- Sunderland have gone 13 games without a Premier League clean sheet. The last manager to see his side fail to score against the Black Cats was David Moyes.
- Hull’s last seven home Premier League games have gone under 2.5 goals.
It’s been a big week for Hull and Sunderland, but the Mackems will have too much for the hosts. Sunderland to win 2-0, both goals from Fletcher.
Hull vs Sunderland LIVE ANALYSIS with Stats Zone
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