Crystal Palace and Hull City go into their game at Selhurst Park on Saturday on opposite ends of the spectrum, but both are aiming for the win that will edge them closer to achieving their objectives this season. For Palace, they are aiming to get three points closer to a top-10 finish this season following a very positive run of form following the appointment of Alan Pardew less than halfway through the season. For Hull, their main aim is to stay in the division and that cause isn’t helped by the tough fixtures they have coming up. This cannot be emphasized enough; this is a must-win for The Tigers.
The home side are currently 11th in the league table following a blip last weekend when they lost 2-0 to former boss Tony Pulis’ West Brom. But before that defeat they had a four-match unbeaten run that included a win over the reigning league champions Manchester City and a 4-1 demolition of Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. They are 14 points clear of the relegation zone and their opponents this weekend Hull City are awkwardly positioned just over the line in 17th position following a bad run of form.
No wins in six games has put tremendous pressure on their boss Steve Bruce with his job repeatedly questioned on a weekly basis following one bad result after another. They haven’t won a game in over two months and only taken two points in that time. There was a sense of optimism that even though they lost 3-2 to Chelsea at home at the end of March, the performances were of a high quality and they were starting to find their feet once again. But the following two defeats to Swansea City and Southampton took that positivity right out of the KC Stadium and they are right back where they have been for the majority of the season; in serious jeopardy of going down a division.
In terms of team news, Jordan Mutch and Chung-yong Lee could play some part in the match following their return from injuries. They will likely be trying to get back into the rhythm and flow of the competitiveness of the Barclays Premier League. But strikers Fraizer Campbell Marouane Chamakh are both ruled out of the fixture due to injury.
Hull are ravaged with injury as key players Curtis Davies, Nikica Jelavic snd Andrew Robertson miss out with Mohamed Diame also not in contention. David Meyler is suspended, but Gaston Ramirez could play some part following a spell out with a hamstring problem. That will leave boss Steve Bruce with some tough decisions to make as this crunch game gets closer and the pressure remains high.
There is some hope for Hull, however, given that Crystal Palace have lost eight games at home this season, a joint high in the league with Queens Park Rangers and West Brom. But at this point Hull need to take action and rely less on statistics and in the minds of many pundits, that is the way Hull’s performances look on the pitch almost every week – complacent, lack of motivation and lack of fighting spirit, something which Steve Bruce has said publicly on some occasions. They will need to step it up a level if they hope to stay in the division given the tough fixture list ahead.
Hull still have to play Liverpool, Arsenal, Burnley and Manchester United at home with Tottenham away their only away game, so they need to take the points in games like these to give themselves a chance. Given that a dead and buried Sunderland got positive results at the backend of last season that included wins against Chelsea and Manchester United and a draw against Manchester City away from home, it can be done, but it isn’t the sort of thing that happens every season.
Just three points separates 16th placed Sunderland and bottom side Burnley, so a couple of wins would do Hull a lot of good, but it is easier said than done and the recent revival of Leicester and QPR could make this the closest relegation battle yet. It could go down to the final game, but this game between Crystal Palace and Hull could decide the fate of the latter already if they cannot rise to the occasion.
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