Newcomers Hull City will clash with Stoke City in the EPL on Saturday afternoon.
Mike Phelan must be feeling some rather mixed feelings right about now. After a long courtship of the full-time managerial berth, Phelan finally got what he wanted. And then in his first game in charge he went to Bournemouth and caught 6. It was their fourth loss on the trot and really exemplified some of the fundamental issues surrounding the squad.
Undercooked sides can take teams by surprise in the first few weeks - which they did by winning their first two games - but ultimately a lack of depth will be horribly exposed by the vagaries of this league. Mark Hughes’ side still sit below Hull in the log, but after a morale-boosting victory over basement dwelling Sunderland they will be confident in their visit to Hull this weekend.
Hull City v Stoke City | Saturday 22 October | KCOM Stadium | 16:00
To Win (90 Mins)
Hull City 39/20 | Draw 22/10 | Stoke City 29/20
This side looks depleted, and it’s only October. I feel sorry for Will Keane up front as he attempts to lead such a blunt attacking instrument. Shaun Maloney has probably been their one shining light, aside from Robert Snodgrass, and I expect that he could keep Erik Pieters honest and ask a few questions with his pace and speed of thought. Snodgrass’ braindead tackle to give away the penalty and subsequent third goal really summed up the entire Hull performance. It was thoughtless and frankly amateurish.
They will be pleased that Stoke have hardly set the world on fire this season. They don’t have the pace that Bournemouth have in all areas. Xherdan Shaqiri has that explosive burst of pace, but their style has evolved into a more continental possession based game.
Jake Livermore and Samuel Raymond Clucas will need to be aware of the late incisive running of Joe Allen from midfield. His two goals last weekend just accentuated the threat he has been since arriving at the Potters.
Stoke were always a side that had too much quality to linger near the foot of the table. They have undergone a major identity tradition and it seems as if Hughes is aware that they may have attempted to alter the culture of the club too radically.
Wilfried Bony has improved and offers an excellent focal point. Marko Arnautovic has been excellent this season and seems really committed to the club. It is perhaps in the engine room where they have been found the most wanting. Glenn Whelan and Geoff Cameron need to up their intensity levels and will feel confident that they can do just that against a staid Hull midfield.
The emergence of Allen as a goal scoring threat is one real positive for Hughes. He has chosen to use him in a slightly more advanced role, ala Frank Lampard, and the Welshman has not disappointed thus far.
The continued absence of Jack Butland through injury has also been a key component of their early season malaise. Bruno Martins-Indi and Ryan Shawcross are still working on their report and I expect this Stoke side to come out of the quagmire that they find themselves in.
Verdict: Stoke City Win (29/20)
Hull are in a bit of a state of crisis while I see some hope on the horizon for Stoke. They have quality players in the guise of Arnautovic and Shaqiri and they should be able to pick up a valuable three points at a Hull side decimated after last weekend.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets