Manchester United hosts former player Steve Bruce’s Hull City at Old Trafford in the Premier League, hoping to have South American duo Radamel Falcao and Marcos Rojo back for the clash. United will be hoping to build on last week’s 2-1 victory away to Arsenal and consolidate a top-four spot.
Louis van Gaal could not be more pleased with his side’s recovery following the defeat at neighbours Manchester City in early November. His side has claimed back-to-back victories against Crystal Palace and the Gunners since then. The 2013 Premier League champion has been plagued with injuries since the start of the campaign. Although Daley Blind was the latest name to be added to the casualty list following international duty for the Netherlands, Dutchman van Gaal will be hoping the return of some key players in the busy festive period will keep United in contention for a Champions League place come May.
The Tigers, in contrast, cannot put a winless streak to bed soon enough. Hull is enduring a turgid time at present, without a win in five league matches. Bruce’s side sits just one point above the relegations zone. However, Bruce will take heart from a valiant display against Tottenham Hotspur last week when his 10 men lost out to a 90th-minute strike from Christian Eriksen. A win at his old stomping ground in Manchester would be the perfect tonic for Bruce.
Van Gaal has suggested Colombian Falcao and Argentine Rojo could both return for United. The coach said both players, who have been sidelined with calf and shoulder injuries respectively, will be considered pending progress in the final training session before the match. However, England full-back Luke Shaw will miss out after he picked up an ankle injury at the Emirates Stadium. Blind will also sit out the match.
Hull will visit Manchester without striker Abel Hernandez as the Uruguayan heads back to South for the birth of his child. He will most likely miss the midweek visit to Everton, too. Gastón Ramírez will also miss out after he was red-carded against Spurs last weekend. The good news for Bruce is he has no fresh injury concerns going into the clash.
Facts and statistics courtesy of Opta: United has claimed the last night matches against Hull, with six league meetings amongst them. Striker Wayne Rooney goes into the match with 66 goals in his last 100 appearances at Old Trafford.
Hull has made more clearances (525) and more blocks (73) than any other side in the division this campaign.The Tigers has also won just one of the last 11 away games with a record of four draws and six defeats. In addition, no side has lost more points from a winning start in the Premier League than Hull and Swansea City (11).
Argentine Ángel Di María has assisted 20 goals this calendar year, which is more than any other individual in the continent’s top five leagues.
When United meets Hull in Manchester on Saturday in this Premier League clash, it will be a tale of two very different clubs. One fourth from top and the the other fourth from bottom. A cliché it may be, but it is a must win side for both teams.
Commentary by Robert Shepherd