The newly promoted sides go into the relegation six-pointer in different spirits, with the Tigers safely tucked away in mid table and their opponents sitting at rock bottom, six points adrift of safety. And while Hull City will see this match as an excellent opportunity to further boost their survival hopes, this could be the last chance for Crystal Palace to stay within touching distance of their relegation rivals.
Key men returning
Even if many saw them as one of the main candidates for the drop, Hull City were disregarding pre-season predictions and giving their best in an attempt to prove the doubters wrong. Some late signings ensured the Tigers were well prepared for a difficult relegation tussle, with Steve Bruce’s side largely impressing in the opening exchanges. And while Hull City have been absolutely brilliant in matches against fellow relegation rivals and mid table sides, they also showed plenty of promise when facing top 6 teams, which is enough to suggest the team have more than enough quality and character to avoid the drop. With several key men missing, the KC Stadium outfit did lose three of last four fixtures, but managed to win a very important match against Sunderland, extending their unbeaten run at home and keeping fourth straight clean sheet on home soil. And with key players Robbie Brady and Allan McGregor likely to return into action this weekend, everything suggests that Hull City are going to extend their amazing run of results at home against out-of-sorts Crystal Palace.
Robbie Brady, Allan McGregor and James Chester have resumed full training, leaving forward Sone Aluko as the only player on the sidelines.
Good performance against Everton
While other newly promoted sides have done well to reinforce their respective squads in the summer, Crystal Palace have made some dubious signings that haven’t exactly improved the quality of the side. Meanwhile, they stayed without Wilfried Zaha, who almost single-handedly ensured promotion to the Premier League, so nobody was really surprised to see Eagles struggle in the opening exchanges. Having picked up just four points from opening eleven matches, it appears Palace are destined for the drop, with decent showing in the goalless draw against Everton not enough to forget all about the seven-match losing run that preceded. The reality is that this team lack the quality, experience and right balance, and I just don’t see how they are going to match very good Hull City at KC Stadium. With new boss yet to be appointed at Selhurst Park and some important players still missing, it looks as though Palace won’t be leaving the bottom of the standings any time soon.
Caretaker boss Keith Millen has no fresh injury worries, but Jack Hunt, Glenn Murray, Jonathan Williams, Paddy McCarthy and Adlene Ghedioura remain in the infirmary.
Hull City have been quite convincing at home this season and with three important players returning, the trend looks set to continue against sorry Crystal Palace. The Eagles have yet to prove they deserve to be playing at this level and tenth defeat of the campaign appears on the horizon.
Top pick: Home win 1.83 (5/6) @ Paddy Power
Alternative pick 1: Under 2.5 goals 1.73 (8/11) @ Stan James
Alternative pick 2: Hull to win to nil 3.00 (2/1) @ SkyBet