Eye on the Opposition - Hull City AFC (10.12.2016)

Written by Jack Pierce
Crystal Palace face a Hull City side with injury and depth issues that put Alan Pardew's selection quandary to shame. Here's Jack Pierce with his look at what to expect from the Tigers. 

Benteke points

I won’t lie, it took me a few days to get used to the fact that Palace had offered a convincing, resolute performance and earned a very valuable three points. My week hasn’t been consumed with thoughts about the job security of certain Mr A. Pardew and having remembered how to win, the next match, against a rather uninspired Hull City, doesn’t seem so daunting.

Having enjoyed, or shall I say endured, Hull’s visit to Middlesbrough on Monday night, I’ve come to the conclusion that we really should beat them. They were quite poor for much of the game and only came to life when they started throwing everything at Boro for the last 10/15 minutes. Without Abel Hernandez or Dieumerci Mbokani leading the line, they lacked the ability to hold the ball high up the pitch and as a result were constantly fending off Boro’s probing. If our beloved Punch has a game to the similar standard of his last Saturday then he could cause Hull nightmares.

Defensively, Hull have got some Premier League quality centre halves in the form of Michael Dawson and Curtis Davies but with little protection in and around them, they appear to be struggling to keep the door closed. Given both sides’ propensity, last week aside as far as our lot are concerned, to concede goals, I dare say this one might be a high scoring encounter.

Mike Phelan, who had arrived at the club to assist Steve Bruce found himself in the hot seat after Bruce’s surprise resignation during the summer which came just weeks after promotion. This is the first time that Phelan has been a number one having earned his stripes sitting next to Sir Alex Ferguson for a good few years. No doubt he’s picked up some wonderful insight into the job but there’s a huge difference between being a number one and being a number two. He’s had to learn quickly and, despite a pretty good start to the season including defeating the reigning champions on the opening day, Hull have found themselves where many expected them to be – in the drop zone -with only Swansea City beneath them.

Robert Snodgrass has provided the shining light of their season so far. Four league goals sees him Hull’s top scorer this season and once again, as he proved at Norwich, Snodgrass is a decent top flight player. Instinctively, he tries to manipulate the ball on to his left foot at any given chance to provide a cross or have a go at goal himself so Joel Ward, who is surely likely to remain at left back after last week’s win, will be briefed with the job of keeping close attention on the Scot should he start in his normal berth as right winger. Snodgrass does seem their only regular threat and if he’s kept quiet, there’s a good chance of Palace picking something up.

Confidence is in short supply in Hull and a Palace win, given our poor recent run, would add further misery on what is already looking like a difficult season for The Tigers but equally, a Hull win would undo any good spirit raised by Palace fans after the Southampton win. What confidence there is among both sets of players will be fragile so an early goal for either could be key and anyone that pops up with a crucial Palace goal need only realise how much love the Palace faithful have for Barry Bannan – scorer of the last Palace winner at The KC in 2013 – to realise that scoring a goal, that will add further relief after last week, could result in cult-heroism.

Zeki Fryers with a thunderbolt from 35 yards out in the third minute of injury time, anyone?

Jack is our regular Eye on the Opposition writer. You can follow him on Twitter.