Sunderland vs Hull City: Match preview and predicted line-ups
Sunderland host Hull City in a match that will have major ramifications for the relegation fight. It is a huge opportunity for the home side to close the gap on 17th place. If results go their way, they will be only three points from survival and there will be hope on Wearside that their side can once again perform a miraculous escape. They couldn’t hand-pick a better opposition as Hull, who have lost seven of their last nine matches. Both sides are coming into the match on the back of a win before the international break and it will be interesting which team can carry on their momentum.
David Moyes is under pressure at the Stadium of Light with some supporters calling for Sam Allardyce to be brought back to the club, but that looks unlikely at this stage. The Sunderland boss has been linked with the Scotland job in recent days. However, his focus will be on turning it around at Sunderland to prove that he can still manage in the Premier League. It is imperative that he picks up his first home league win as manager and put pressure on the teams above Sunderland.
Hull City are slightly better placed in 17th after their impressive home victory over Southampton. Mike Phelan is learning his trade as a number one and he has faults, but he can’t be criticised for his motivational skills as the squad are giving their all. Robert Snodgrass is going to be key for Hull this season and he could prove the difference this weekend. He now back to full fitness and will be raring to go against the side currently bottom of the table. A victory this weekend will push Hull into mid-table, which would be very impressive considering the problems that faced the club before the season started.
Although Sunderland did beat Bournemouth before the international break, this was only their first league victory of the season. They had lost their three previous matches, but Moyes will be hoping that his side can now use that momentum to climb the table. Their attack remains a huge issue as they have scored only nine times this season, the lowest of any team in the Premier League.
The visitors had lost six league matches in a row before their surprise victory over Southampton, with goal-scoring also providing them with issues. They are reliant on Robert Snodgrass to score and create goals, which is something they will need to correct in January. Although Hull haven’t had the best start to the season, neither have Sunderland, which only adds to the intrigue of this fixture.
Victor Anichebe is likely to start after an impressive performance against Bournemouth. Adnan Januzaj could make his return to the starting eleven to replace Steven Pienaar, with the South African suspended for this weekend. Duncan Watmore will also play after doing well for the England U21s during the international break.
Dieumerci Mbokani will start after injuries to both Will Keane and Abel Hernandez. Robert Snodgrass is set to start this weekend, which is a huge boost for Mike Phelan. The rest of the team is likely to remain the same.
Sunderland Hull City
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Vito Mannone is closing in on a return, but Jordan Pickford won’t relinquish the number one jersey without a fight. Fabio Borini, Lee Cattermole, Jan Kirchhoff and Jack Rodwell could all be involved after recovering from various injuries during the international break. Steven Pienaar will be missing through suspension.
Abel Hernandez and Will Keane will be missing after picking up injuries in the match against Southampton. Andy Robertson and Alex Bruce are still weeks away from a return, while Moses Odubajo won’t be back until 2017.
This will be one of the most intriguing fixtures of the weekend with both teams expected to be involved in the relegation fight at the end of the season. Both sides are coming into the match after a win and it is crucial that they use this momentum to their advantage, otherwise they could both be cut adrift at the bottom. This is especially the case for Sunderland and I am leaning towards them this weekend. The home crowd should be enough to pull them to a crucial three points.
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