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Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship

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Fan Focus: Hull fan Ant is predicting a score draw in their Boxing Day clash with Sunderland!

Ahead of Sunderland’s Boxing Day fixture, we spoke to Hull fan Ant Northgraves of the To Hull & Back Podcast to discuss their form this season under Liam Rosenior. Who should we be wary of?

Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Liam Rosenior was recently awarded a new contract at Hull - what are the key factors behind his success so far?

He has brought a new sense of unity to the club that was unfortunately lost under the previous ownership. Fans felt disconnected from the club, and the players were struggling for a playing identity on the pitch.

Since Rosenior has come in, the whole club feels together again. He values hard work, effort and consistency which he gets from this squad of players.

Hull are currently looking like contenders to reach the playoffs, is that were fans are expecting this season given the added investment from your takeover?

I think the majority of the fans expected a top 10 finish, maybe flirting with the top 6 occasionally but this season we seem to have not dropped lower than 8th in months so expectations may have slightly changed.

It’s more of a case of, “why not?” rather than expectation, however, a couple of signings in January and Philogene back from injury would make us a force to be reckoned with for the second half of the season.

Middlesbrough v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship
Liam Rosenior enjoyed a brief spell in charge of Derby, before Hull became his first permanent role in management.
Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

Rosenior’s side have been excellent at home this season, losing just twice - what makes them so strong at the MKM Stadium?

I think the fact that the fans are starting to return has a big impact on the players. We’re starting to see 20,000 plus every game again and the atmosphere is much improved so one would assume that the players thrive on having the crowd back.

We also have a knack for not knowing when we’re beaten. We’ve had around 13 or 14 points won from losing positions and keep going right up until the last minute, usually helping us claw back the game.

Moving onto the players, Hull have already agreed their first signing in veteran striker Billy Sharp from LA Galaxy, what do you think he can bring to the table?

I think this transfer was more based on what he gives us experience wise for the dressing room.

We have a very young squad and players that are still learning and improving their game so having the Championship’s all-time top scorer to learn from could be highly beneficial.

If he comes on and scores a few off the bench in games when we need a goal, then that’s a bonus but he’ll be a brilliant addition to the dressing room and having players that know what it takes to get promoted towards the run-in is vital too.

Serbia v England - UEFA U21 Euro 2025 Qualifier
Jaden Philogene was recently called into the England side following his excellent form at Hull.
Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

In our Championship chat, I often see you raving about Jaden Philogene, who is already in double figures for goal involvements this season - what makes him so dangerous?

When you talk about players who have that “X-Factor”, Jaden Philogene falls straight into that discussion.

He is young, confident and has flair to back it up. As soon as he gets the ball, everyone stands up expecting him to do something amazing. He thrives off running straight at defenders, tying their legs in knots and getting into dangerous positions for himself or other players.

He can win a game by himself, and is easily up there with Clarke and Summerville as one of the best wingers in the League. Massive shame he’s injured, but we’ve managed wins against Boro & Cardiff in his absence showing our strength to adapt.

Hull also recruited some other brilliant offensive options in the summer in Scott Twine, Aaron Connolly and Liam Delap, how have those three got on this season?

Scott Twine started slowly, but has got better and better with every game. Far more influential in the “number 10” role, slotting in behind Delap and offering creativity and goal threat. He finally bagged a free-kick against Cardiff, so hopefully his “set piece specialist” tag can really be shown consistently.

Liam Delap has arguably been as important as Philogene for us. A player who again, loves to receive the ball on the turn and run straight at the back four causing chaos for defenders. He’s on 6 goals so far, but what Delap brings the side is more than his goals. His frightening pace and ability lures defenders away and creates space for the other attackers.

Aaron Connolly has had a season blighted with injury so far, but has still mustered 6 goals for his troubles. Usually used as an impact sub off the bench taking advantage of tired defenders who have been chasing Delap all game, but thrown back into the starting 11 with our current injury situation. A pure poacher who loves a bit of “housery”.

Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship
Sunderland drew 4-4 with Hull when the two sides met at the Stadium of Light last season.
Photo by Ian horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Aside from the above-mentioned players, who has stood out for Hull this season?

Alfie Jones, Lewie Coyle and Ozan Tufan.

Jones and Coyle are our usual 8/10 performers every game providing 90+ minutes of solid graft and effort.

Ozan Tufan is looking back to his best after his injury and is probably looking like he’s the most fit we’ve ever had him. Easily man of the match against Cardiff, he’s scored 2 recently and is also on 6 goals for the season.

But Tyler Morton in the middle has been absolutely superb since joining on loan from Liverpool. A classy box-to-box midfielder with spectacular vision, he has been the youthful partner to similar style midfielder Jean Michael Seri who helps us control the midfield and dominate possession.

What tactical style can we expect from Rosenior’s side during the match?

We like to play out from the back and control games by having the ball and making the opponents press higher onto us, allowing us to expose the spaces left behind.

We struggle against sides that sit deep and defend, but if you’re a side that likes to play football and come onto us, that’s exactly how we want you to play. We’re so strong on the counter and have goal threats across the attacking line.

We do, however tend to miss a lot of our opportunities and can be very wasteful as well as having the tendency to gift goals away so there are some weaknesses Sunderland could exploit, especially if you keep our midfield quiet.

Hull City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship
Sunderland drew 1-1 away at Hull last season, despite Elliot Embleton being sent off.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Which eleven players do you think he will select?

I’ll go for: (4-2-3-1) GK: Allsop, RB: Christie, CB’s: Jones and Greaves, LB: Coyle, CM’s: Seri & Morton, CAM: Tufan, RW: Delap, ST: Connolly, LW: Twine.

Sunderland and Hull’s last four matches have ended in a draw, what is your score prediction for this time around?

I think a draw is the safe bet! Haha. This will be a very tough game, and I’d certainly be happy with a point. I’m going for a 1-1 result.


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