Cardiff City may already be champions but the race for second place has not been decided. This week’s opponents Hull City need a win to guarantee Premier League football, or at least better third place Watford’s result at Leeds.
The Tigers currently lie in the second automatic position on seventy-eight points – just a single point ahead of nearest rivals Watford. With the Hornets having a much superior goal difference, if they pick up a point and Cardiff win then Malky Mackay’s former side will be joining his current one in the top flight.
Hull missed the chance to secure top-flight status last time out as they lost 2-0 against Barnsley at Oakwell. They had also missed the chance the fixture before only managing a draw at home to already relegated Bristol City. They are without a win in their last three also losing to twenty-third place Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Steve Bruce’s men have mustered forty-two points from their twenty-two home league fixtures, the fifth best record in the division. This is helped by the fact they concede an average of less than a goal a game at KC Stadium. Hull also have a strong record against teams in the top half of the table, only Watford have won more games against top twelve opposition.
Key Players: Like Cardiff, Hull have managed a high league position without having a player who has reached double figures in the scoring charts – their highest scorer is midfielder Robert Koren. The Slovenian international has scored nine goals, one more than fellow midfielder Sone Aluko. However Koren is rated only 50/50 for Saturday’s game due to a calf problem.
Ahmed Elmohamady and Stephen Quinn could prove highly influential from the wings, both having featured in over forty games for Hull this season. Between them they have produced fourteen assists this term.
The top scoring strikers in the Tigers’ ranks are Jay Simpson and Mohamed Gedo, having scored six and five league goals respectively. However, George Boyd has scored four after only making his debut on February 23rd. He has signed on loan from Peterborough until the end of the season.
Hull have the fourth best defensive record in the Championship and this is largely down to the defensive pairing of James Chester and Alex Bruce. Chester has made the most appearances of any Tigers player featuring in no less than forty-seven games in all competitions while Bruce has featured in ten less but still has made the second most appearances out of the back four.
Keeper David Stockdale is on loan from Fulham and is a highly regarded stopper. He remains uncapped, but has featured in the England squad, having originally been named in the Euro 2012 squad but later withdrawing.
Previous Meetings: There is not much to separate the two teams when looking at the head-to-head records. Hull City have won just two more games compared to Cardiff. Hull have won twenty-one, Cardiff City nineteen but there have also been eighteen draws.
In recent years the record is also close. The last ten meetings have seen Cardiff win five, Hull win four and a 2-2 draw back in 2007. There has not been a goalless draw between the sides in the last twenty-three games, a run stretching back to 1977.
Last Meeting: Cardiff City 2 – 1 Hull City (10/11/2012)
Cardiff entered this fixture looking for their eighth consecutive home win of the season and it could not have started any better. Heidar Helguson gave City the lead after just three minutes, bravely heading home from Craig Noone’s delivery.
Cardiff were dominant but squandered a number of chances. It took until the eighty-third minute for Mark Hudson to give Cardiff some breathing space and two goal cushion. Robert Koren did grab a consolation in the ninetieth minute but it was too little too late as Cardiff City grabbed all three points.
Cardiff City Line-up: Marshall, McNaughton (Kiss) (Ralls), Taylor, Hudson, Turner, Whittingham, Kim, Noone, Gunnarsson, Mason, Helguson (Gestede). Subs not used: Lewis, Nugent, Conway, Frei
Hull City Line-up: Amos, Rosenior, Chester, McShane (Brady), Faye, Elmohamady, Evans, Koren, Quinn (McLean), Simpson (Meyler), Aluko. Subs not used: Jakupovic, McKenna, Olofinjana, Proschwitz