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Preview – Man City ‘v’ Hull

High-flying Hull are the visitors to the City of Manchester Stadium on Boxing Day, and for the home side, it is time to pull no punches and to fight their way out of trouble. The Blues are in the midst of a relegation battle and cannot afford another match in which they fail to attain all the points. Meanwhile, promoted Hull have astounded everybody with their form and are sitting comfortably in the top half of the table.

Under-fire City boss Mark Hughes will be boosted by the return of Robinho after injury, although judging by the Brazilian’s most recent performances, this will be a hindrance rather than a help. The centre of defence is also a major issue for Hughes, with young, academy product Nedum Onuoha expected to overtake Israeli international Tal Ben-Haim and replace either Micah Richards or Richard Dunne. Strikers Benjani and Danny Sturridge are both out with injuries, while Darius Vassell will have to pass a late fitness test if he is to play. Elano is again expected to be left out of the squad after his public bust-up with Hughes, while his fellow Brazilian Jo will return to lead the line.

Jo will need to discover his scoring boots

Hull’s visit will see the return of Brazilian Geovanni to Eastlands. After leaving City during the summer, the attacking midfielder joined the Tigers, where he has rapidly become a fans favourite thanks to his silky skills and long range goals. Centre-back Michael Turner has been linked with City after some tremendous performances at the heart of Hull’s defence which have led to surprising victories against Arsenal and Tottenham. First choice left-back Andy Dawson is out injured, and his deputy, young Welshman Sam Ricketts, is suspended. Unpredictable striker Daniel Cousin is pushing for a recall alongside Marlon King in place of the veteran Nick Barmby, and he has fond memories of playing against City, notably when he punished a horrendous Ben-Haim error at the KC Stadium to score for Hull in the previous encounter.

 

Key Battles:

Richard Dunne ‘v’ Marlon King

After a poor season last year with Wigan, Jamaican forward King has reinvented himself at Hull, and on his day is a lethal striker. Dunne will need to improve after his below-par performance against WBA.

Stephen Ireland ‘v’ George Boateng

Ireland has been superb throughout the season, but his form has dipped in the last few games, but he will need to be back back to his best to trouble the experienced Boateng. Middlesborough’s loss has been Hull’s gain, and the defensive midfielder has been a star player for the Tigers.

Boateng will be a key figure in the match

Jo ‘v’ Michael Turner

Jo has perhaps been the most disappointing City players this season. He has failed to live upto our expectations of him, though I firmly believe he needs to be given more time. As mentioned beforehand, Turner has been brilliant this season, and he will look to add to Jo’s misery.

 

My team: (4-2-3-1)

                                                               Hart

Zabaleta                Onuoha                                               Dunne                       Garrido

                              Richards                                            Kompany  

Wright-Phillips                                      Ireland                                                 Robinho

                                                                Jo

Subs: Schmeichel, Ben-Haim, Ball, Elano, Hamann, Caicedo, Evans

Verdict: Man City 2 – 1 Hull

Another close encounter between these two sides, bit I just feel that City will turn the corner, and nick this by the odd goal in three. Goals to b scored by SWP, Stephen Ireland and Marlon King.

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