City face a stern test at Burnley. Mitchell Whiley explains why.
In what is undoubtedly the match of the round in the Championship, Hull City travel to Turf Moor to take on Burnley. Both sides are enjoying a great run of form at the moment, making the match between the first-placed Tigers and third-placed Clarets even more mouth-watering. While the season still has seventeen to eighteen matches left for most sides, this ‘six-pointer’ could prove crucial come May.
Undefeated in the league since Boxing Day, Burnley have enjoyed four wins and two draws, as well as FA Cup success over Championship heavyweights Middlesbrough. The only loss since that day came in a 2-1 defeat in the FA Cup at the hands of Arsenal. Mid-January saw the Clarets beat MK Dons 0-5, Brentford 1-3 and fellow promotion contenders, Derby, 4-1. Hull City were linked with Andre Gray in the summer, and he has managed to show Steve Bruce what he was missing out on. Gray has netted a league-high eighteen times in the league this season, with fourteen of those coming at home. Former Hull City midfielder George Boyd has been out of favour with manager Sean Dyche of late but could still make an appearance against his former club and team mates. A midweek 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday could come into effect when fatigue begins to play a part in this contest.
Not to be outdone, Hull City have are also enjoying a rich vein of form. January meant six wins from six matches for Steve Bruce’s men, including two FA Cup victories and a 6-0 smashing of Charlton. With only one league goal conceded in the aforementioned period, Curtis Davies and Harry Maguire have formed a dominant centre-half pairing. However, captain Michael Dawson is once again fit, which could mean Harry Maguire will not see as much game time. Although Gray is currently leading the race for the golden boot, Abel Hernandez sits only three goals behind on fifteen for the season, with a game in hand over his English rival. With eight goals in his last eight matches, including his first Hull City hat trick, the Uruguayan will look to continue his scoring streak this weekend. A selection headache looms for Steve Bruce however, after Chuba Akpom scored a hat trick in City’s last outing against Bury in the FA Cup. With such success with the line-up he has selected for the league in recent times, particularly in the goal scoring department, it’s difficult to see the Arsenal-loanee starting ahead of Hernandez. Possible injury doubts surround Shaun Maloney and Alex Bruce, but there seem to be no further injuries to report. Although theoretically this will be the first opportunity for City fans to see their two newest signings in the black and amber (or goalkeeper green) for the first time, it’s unlikely that Dusan Kusiak and Nick Powell will feature in this clash.
During Burney’s latest visit to the KC Stadium, they were defeated 3-0 by the Tigers, thanks to goals from Clucas, Hernandez and Livermore. However, the last ten fixtures between these teams have seen Hull City win a mere two games. The last time Hull City faced Burnley at Turf Moor was when both teams were competing in the Premier League, which saw the Tigers get defeated 1-0 in a crucial game. The record between these two clubs sits in Burnley’s favour, being 20-11-30.
Prediction: Both teams are in great form at the moment, but Gray’s goal scoring record at Turf Moor partnered by the shocking away form of Hull City (despite recent results) gives confidence to those of a Claret persuasion. Burney 2-1 Hull City.