Hull v CHELSEA: Preview

Venue: KC Stadium
Date: Sunday, 22 March
Kick-off: 16:00 GMT

We might have a couple of games in hand but I’d feel happier if we were going into this game with the points from those games already in the bag. With City closing the gap to just three points yesterday and our form of late not so much going off the boil as the pilot light being just about snuffed out, it all feels a bit tenser that it needed to be. We made hard work of it against Southampton with a disinterested sort of performance despite Jose’s title declarations.
It is how it is though and today sees us on our travels to play a Hull side who come into today’s game with a recent turnaround in form that’s given them the kind of boost we’d probably prefer them not to have. We’ll need Gary Cahill to stay upright for this one!

Going into this afternoon’s game, Hull boss Steve Bruce says
“Over the last six weeks we’ve been more like ourselves again. We’ve defended fantastically well and we’ve got a base and a platform that I’m used to seeing. We’ve also got a few players coming back as well which will add to the competition for places. We’re in a far healthier place than we were six weeks ago and we’ve given ourselves some life. We’re doing everything we can to stay in this league.”
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho meanwhile says “Last season I needed ‘confrontational leadership’ a few times, but I didn’t think there were many of them ready for that. This season I don’t need it because things are going in the direction that I want. Obviously you can say ‘but you lost in the Champions League, or you lost against Bradford’. But globally, generally, the way they work, the way they behave, the way they live together, their motivations, their responsibilities, their frustrations, the way they react to the negative moments, the way they react to the positive moments, the absence of complacency: all this is going well. So I just need to be present. I don’t need to be a big leader, or even try to find strategies as a leader.”

For Hull, Jelavic (knee) is injured. Mohamed Diame, Liam Rosenior, James Chester and Robbie Brady are all doubtful and Tom Huddlestone is suspended.
For Chelsea, John Obi Mikel (knee) remains out but Mourinho otherwise has a full squad to pick from.

HULL (Possible line-up): McGregor (GK), McShane, Dawson, Bruce; Robertson, Meyler, Livermore, Ramirez, Elmohomady; N’Doye, Hernandez
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Courtois (GK), Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic; Matic, Fabregas; Oscar, Hazard, Willian; Costa

Hull 0-2 Chelsea (11 January 2014)

■Hull have lost just one of their last six league games
■Hull have conceded just 3 goals in their last 5 Premier League games
■Hull haven’t beaten a top ten side this season
■Chelsea are unbeaten in their last eight league games
■Chelsea have only failed to score in one of their 28 league games this season
■Chelsea have only managed to score more than once in one of their last 6 league games.
■Hull have never beaten Chelsea in the Premier League
■Hull’s last win against Chelsea was 1988
■In 7 Premier League meetings Chelsea have conceded 2 goals against Hull

Hull have seen five red cards this season, one of them against us in the reverse fixture at the end of last year. Costa and Willian were both given dodgy bookings for diving in that game, with Cahill the real guilty party and Steve Bruce suggesting the game resembled Swan Lake. So it’s fair to say there’ll be little love lost in this game, with both sides having a point to prove and both sides really needing the points.
I feel the ref will need a match winning performance as much as we do this afternoon.

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