Our football writer previews the EPL clash between Man United and Hull City.
Hull City perhaps envy Man United’s dilemma. Dumped unceremoniously out of the FA Cup by Fulham, Hull know that their primary focus will be on retaining their Premier League status. That is easier said than done, however, with a veritable smorgasbord of injuries afflicting Marco Silva’s side this season.
English Premier League | Wednesday 1 February | Old Trafford | 22:00
To Win (90 Mins)
Manchester United 1/6 | Draw 57/10 | Hull City 14/1
Mourinho will have been pleased with his side’s easy progression in the FA Cup. It has afforded him the opportunity to completely focus on this critical home fixture. The 'Special One' will fully understand the desperation that Hull will bring to the party on Wednesday night.
This transfer window has been more about cleaning out shop for the Reds, with Memphis Depay making way while Ashley Young seems set to leave for China. Anthony Martial has also been inexplicably linked with a move away.
This could be a week for Paul Pogba to shine. Hull’s litany of midfield injury concerns will leave them savagely depleted in the middle of the park. Tom Huddlestone will be little match for the unbounded athleticism of the enigmatic French figure. I also look at Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan and feel that Michael Dawson may be in for an extremely long evening.
This Red Devils team is starting to develop a slight aura about them and Hull are going to struggle to contain them. Clearly United will approach this game with slightly more gusto than last week’s second leg of the League Cup, where perhaps they were guilty of complacency, sitting on that 2-0 lead from the first leg.
One bit of good news for Hull City is that Ryan Mason has been admitted out of hospital after fracturing his skull against Chelsea. The Tigers have, however, lost Robert Snodgrass in the transfer window while Curtis Davis is a new injury concern.
The acquisition of Inter Milan central defender Andrea Ranocchia on loan will offer some solace to fans of the Tigers. His first task in English football may be the unenviable one of marking one Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Abel Hernandez was rested in that embarrassing cup defeat to Fulham, but you can fully expect the talented Uruguayan to return for this match.
Evandro Goebel has been quite impressive in the small period of time he has been at the club. He will attempt to keep Antonio Valencia honest down that right-hand side. Perhaps Hull’s greatest threat lies in the left foot of Andrew Robertson.
A consummate crosser of the ball, Robertson will look to surge down that left-hand side as often as possible. He will look to find Hernandez in the box, who also happens to be an excellent header of the football.
Verdict: Halftime/Fulltime - Draw/Man United Win(26/10)
Man United have occasionally struggled to break teams down in the first half, and I fully expect Hull to be defensively organised. But United’s undoubted superiority in quality should see them grab the points in the second stanza. Get on the Halftime Draw/Man United win Fulltime.
Written by Damien Kayat