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The Scout Report: Hull City - How can the Black Cats tame those pesky Tigers?

Sunderland are desperately looking to bounce back from four straight defeats this weekend when they travel to Hull City. The Tigers are wobbling themselves - what can we expect from the home team today?

Hull City v Sunderland - Barclays Premier League Photo by Tim Keeton/Getty Images

The Story So Far

Hull have had a very up-and-down season so far, with the Tigers winning two games, losing four and drawing one. Their wins have been comprehensive - and both took place at the KCOM Stadium - 4-1 at home to Burton and 4-0 at home to Bolton. Admittedly, though, Burton and Bolton will be in and around the bottom 5 this season, so maybe those wins aren’t something to get carried away with.

Derby County v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Today’s opponents have really struggled on their travels - a point on the opening day was followed with four straight away defeats in all competitions. Hull have lost their last two games to an aggregate score of seven against and one for.

Their only home defeat of the season came when high-flying Wolves won 3-2 at the KCOM, so hopefully Sunderland can hand out their second this weekend. Hull currently sit 16th in the Championship, with 7 points in 7 games.


Last Time Out

Hull played Fulham on Wednesday night at the Cottage, suffering a narrow 2-1 defeat. The Tigers put a far better performance midweek than they did on Saturday, where they lost 5-0 away at Derby.

Fulham opened the scoring with a Floyd Ayite goal, before Jarrod Bowen got Hull level just after half time. Fulham proceeded to batter the Hull goal but were wasteful, and they eventually got the lead back through Stefan Johansen. Hull pushed for an equaliser - with former Sunderland man Fraizer Campbell making his return from injury - but Fulham seemed more likely to add another rather than Hull levelling up the scores.

Leonid Slutsky was not happy with his side's performance on Wednesday - citing that he wants to try a new formation because his current system is not working.


Injuries

Hull City will be without main man Abel Hernandez this weekend, with the Uruguayan out of action until February of next year. Will Keane will also miss out, with the young striker still struggling after his brutal cruciate ligament injury last season.

Ryan Mason has also yet to feature this season for the Tigers, with Hull hoping he is back as soon as possible to help them in their team's slump so far this season.

Kevin Stewart, on loan from Liverpool, is out for around six weeks so he will miss the game this weekend and Moses Obujadio is also a long term absentee.

Hull have a few doubts heading into the game - playmaker Evandro was not in the squad against Fulham midweek, but could feature this weekend. Ondrej Mazuch, the Czech defender, also missed out at Fulham but should be fit for Saturday’s game.


Dangerman

Whilst 30-year old Fraizer Campbell has yet to bag a goal yet on his return to Humberside, I would consider him to be the biggest threat that Hull pose to Sunderland this weekend. We saw on Tuesday just how a former player can come back and haunt you - with Darryl Murphy bagging the winner for Nottingham Forest at the Stadium of Light - so why not Campbell this weekend?

Cardiff City v Sunderland - Premier League
Fraizer Campbell scored for Cardiff against Sunderland in 2013, can he repeat that feat this weekend?
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

The former England international has endured a difficult career and injuries have taken their toll on the forward's pace. That said, he should still be a very good Championship striker, and his career to this point should suggest that he will score goals at this level. Sunderland need to make sure that they defend properly against their former number 9 - or the consequences could be brutal.


Referee - Darren England

England has only just made his way onto the full-time Championship referees list - and because of this he has never refereed Sunderland in his career.

However, he has refereed Hull already this season during their 4-1 victory at home to Burton Albion. He sent off Burton player Jackson Irvine for a second yellow card on the day.


Manager - Leonid Slutsky

Leonid Slutsky will hopefully not be slut-dropping in the clubs and pubs of Hull on Saturday night in celebration of his side’s victory - but the former Russia head coach has reason to think he can turn the clubs fortunes around soon enough.

Derby County v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship
Slutsky will be hoping to turn around Hull’s fortunes this weekend against lowly Sunderland
Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

His career to this point has seen him win three league titles in Russia with CSKA Moscow while also taking the reigns at Russia during the 2016 European Championships. He resigned from his post as manager of Russia after their dismal 3-0 defeat to Wales, before leaving CSKA in December 2016.

Slutsky was appointed Hull manager on June 9th - and cited promotion as the only target for the season. The 46 year old needs to start winning soon if he wants to make that dream a reality.


Statistical Analysis

Hull have conceded the most goals in the Championship this season - 14 to be exact - and scored the second most - 13. Therefore we can deduce from that they are naff at the back but pretty decent going forward.

Hull will be looking to attack Sunderland from every area of the pitch, with their team geared towards attacking rather than defending. Our friends at www.whoscored.com have even predicted that the likeliest outcomes of the game are for Hull to exploit our weak defence - and I cannot say that I disagree.

Do I think that Sunderland can exploit Hull’s defensive woes? Well if Aiden McGeady is fit, and we have McManaman on the other wing then we may have a chance. Jonny Williams looked a bit better midweek and hopefully Lee Cattermole will be on his game after returning against Forest. James Vaughan will undoubtedly struggle - as he always does - but this Hull team certainly have weaknesses that we can exploit if we so desire.


Predicted Line Up

Apparently Sebastian Larsson hasn’t enjoyed the best of times since joining Hull on a free transfer from Sunderland this summer - so expect him to be dropped to the bench. Hull signed Nouah Dicko in the summer from Wolves, but he has struggled so far, so maybe expect Fraizer Campbell to get the nod ahead of him this weekend.

Kamil Grosicki looked a very solid player last season at Hull when they were fighting for survival, so it is surprising to see him still at the Tigers - he will undoubtedly be a thorn in our side. Interestingly, Sunderland will be lining up against another side who choose to operate with three at the back, and we have not fared well against sides who have went with those tactics against us this season so far.