(For US Viewers – Hull City v. Manchester United will be shown LIVE on Thursday December 26th at 7:45am EST on NBC Sports Network)
Boxing Day’s early kick-off will see David Moyes lead a resurgent Manchester United into the KC Stadium to face-off against Steve Bruce’s Hull City. United have won their last four matches in all competitions (keeping clean sheets in three) and are primed to re-establish themselves as one of the league’s top clubs. Hull City are sitting on 20 points after 17 games and boast the Premier League’s best home defense; third-best in all of Europe (three goals conceded in eight home matches).
At first glance, neutral Premier League viewers will see this contest as a potential one-sided affair with United destined for an easy away win. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Hull City have only lost once at home this season and recently handed league leading Liverpool a 3-1 defeat at the KC Stadium.
Hull City manager Steve Bruce is a former Manchester United captain (three league titles between 1987-1996) and will be eager to get his first win against his former club. Bruce’s managerial record in eighteen games against United is: 0W, 4D, 14L; but those numbers were compiled while he locked horns with former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
The closest Bruce came to beating his old club was in March 2010 when he was in charge of Sunderland. With time running down and his club leading 2-1 at Old Trafford, Sunderland defender Anton Ferdinand scored an unfortunate own goal in the 93rd minute to ruin Bruce’s chance of taking all three points for the first time in his coaching career.
But that was another time and a different team.
Hull City currently boasts the league’s best home defense and the KC Stadium will be a cauldron of noise as Bruce and his players walk onto the pitch. They will be chomping at the bit as they wait for the whistle to sounds so they can take on the defending Champions of England.
Some players will be relishing the opportunity to face the reigning champions more than others. Hull City have several former United players in their ranks: James Chester, Corry Evans, Paul McShane and most-notably Robbie Brady (who is unfortunately ‘doubtful’ for this match).
This will by no means be “beautiful football”. Hull City will really dig in and make United work for 90+ minutes. For those who have seen the Tigers play, they fear no team and play with an aggressiveness that borders on the extreme at times.
Hull City’s roster is littered with a number of solid Premier League professionals who know how to get a job done: midfielder Tom Huddlestone; defenders Maynor Figueroa, Abdoulaye Faye and Curtis Davies; forwards Yannick Sagbo and Danny Graham; and Egyptian international Ahmed Elmohamady has started all seventeen matches for the club this season.
Manager Steve Bruce said: “It is always difficult for a newly-promoted club, but we are making a fist of it and you can see from the way they (his players) play that they are a delight to work with. They roll their sleeves up, have a go and they are enjoying playing in the Premier League.”