Writer: Matt Wilson
Date:Saturday August 17 2013
The wait is over - the Premier League and Hull City are back!
Since that glorious but nerve-wrecking afternoon against Cardiff City on 4 May 2013, City supporters have looked forward in anticipation of the club`s return to the English top flight as they embark on just their third season at this level.
City`s opening day fixture poses perhaps their most difficult assignment of the upcoming season as Steve Bruce takes his team to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea in what is Jose Mourinho`s return to English football. After a difficult time in Spain at Real Madrid, the self appointed "special one" will look to regain the Premier League title for the London club with City hoping to spoil the homecoming party in front of the Sky cameras on Sunday afternoon.
Below, we preview our return to the Premier League and what we can expect from Sunday`s match.
Two of Chelsea`s highest profile recruits have been Andre Schurrle (£18 million from Bayer Leverkusen) and Marco Van Ginkel (£8 million from Vitesse Arnhem.) Both players have been heavily involved in Chelsea`s pre-season and are expected to be included in the eighteen man squad to face The Tigers.
Andre Schurrle can feature as a wide midfielder or in a central role in attack and will expected to provide the assists for Romelu Lukaku, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba. A German international, Schurrle was able to contribute 14 goals in 43 matches before leaving Leverkusen in the summer. For his national side, Schurrle has scored 7 goals in 23 appearances.
Van Ginkel is a highly-rated midfielder, having earned the Dutch Talent of the Year award last season as he helped guide Vitesse Arnhem to a fourth place finish. Heavily involved in pre-season, Van Ginkel is likely to feature in the centre of the midfield alongside Ramires or Frank Lampard.
Mark Schwarzer, Chelsea`s other summer recruit from Fulham, is expected to be on the bench.
Hull City Recruits
Steve Bruce has been active in the transfer window, brining in ten players as he looks to build a squad capable of surviving in the Premier League.
Bruce has made the loan signings of George Boyd and Ahmed Elmohamady permanent whilst Curtis Davies (£2.25 million from Birmingham City) and Maynor Figueroa (free agent) add Premier League experience to the City defence.
In goal, Bruce has been quick to address a long-standing issue. After failing to retain the services of David Stockldale due to an over-inflated transfer value, Bruce brought in Allan McGregor (£1.8 million from Besiktas) and Steve Harper (free agent.)
With goals being all important for a team that is expected to struggle, the loan signing of Danny Graham (Sunderland) and acquisition of Yannick Sagbo (£1.6 million from Evian) should help City be a threat to opposition defences.
City`s most impressive acquisitions came this week as Steve Bruce broke the previous club transfer record of £5 million by bringing in Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Tom Huddlestone. He was joined on the same day by his former team-mate Jake Livermore, who City could sign for £3.25 million should they retain their top flight status. Currently, Livermore has joined on a season long loan and both look set to feature at some point on Sunday.
Chelsea Pre-Season Results
Malaysia XI 1 - 4 Chelsea
BNI Indonesia All-Stars 1 - 8 Chelsea
Inter Milan 0 - 2 Chelsea
AC Milan 0 - 2 Chelsea
Real Madrid 3 - 1 Chelsea
AS Roma 1 - 2 Chelsea
Hull City Pre-Season Results
North Ferriby United 1-3 Hull City
Winterton Rangers 0-6 Hull City
Sheffield Wednesday 0-0 Hull City
Braga 0-0 Hull City
Birmingham City 2-1 Hull City
Peterborough United 0-1 Hull City
Dynamo Dresden 0-1 Hull City
Eintracht Braunschweig 2-0 Hull City
Hull City 3-0 Real Betis
Chelsea Team News
Jose Mouinho`s team selection could be affected with a number of players having travelled long distances to be involved in the mid-week international friendlies. These include Victor Moses and Cesar Azpilicueta who could both be rested following their travels with Nigeria and Spain respectively.
Debuts are expected to be handed to Schurrle and Van Ginkel whilst Mourinho`s toughest selection could come in attack. The misfiring Fernando Torres and Demba Ba must now compete with the returning Romelu Lukaku who, having scored seventeen times in the Premier League whilst on loan at West Bromwich Albion last season looks the favourite to be handed the starting role.
Behind Lukaku, Mourinho can choose from Oscar, Hazard, Mata and Lampard, demonstrating the gulf in class between the two sides and the size of the task facing Hull City at Stamford Bridge.
Hull City Team News
Steve Bruce has favoured a 433 formation in recent weeks, choosing to alter the 352 formation which served City so well in the Championship. Allan McGregor will be City`s number one in goal whilst Bruce will hand league debuts to Curtis Davies and Maynor Figueroa in defence. In attack, Danny Graham will lead the line and is expected to be supported by Sone Aluko and Yannick Sagbo from the wide areas.
It is in midfield where Bruce has perhaps his most difficult selection decision. With the late arrivals of Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore, Bruce must decide whether to include both from the start. Huddlestone looks set to start in the three man midfield with Robert Koren perhaps most under threat whilst Livermore could be competing with David Meyler for a starting spot.
Predicted team: McGregor, Elmohamady, Chester, Davies, Figueroa, Huddlestone, Meyler, Brady, Aluko, Sagbo, Graham.
Recent Meetings at Stamford Bridge
Hull City`s recent trips to Stamford Bridge have been tight affairs. In the 2008/9 season, Phil Brown guided his side to a 0-0 draw, a result that saw Chelsea manager the current Brazil manager Phil Scolari sacked after the game.
In 2009/10, City travelled to Stamford Bride on the opening day of the season, the opening Premier League game of the season. A first-half goal from Stephen Hunt gave City the lead (and honour of leading the Premier League table) before Didier Drogba equalised from a free-kick. Drogba went on to score a 92nd minute winner, his cross looping over an agonising Myhill, leaving City with an undeserved defeat.
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Assistants: S. Burt and L. Betts
Fourth Official: A. Marriner
Facts and Statistics
Chelsea have impressive statistics for the opening day of a season, unbeaten in the last fourteen and having collected a Premier League high of 44 points from those matches.
Should City be able to get in-front, Steve Bruce has a side that has experience of holding onto a lead. Taking the lead in 23 Championship fixtures last season, they went on to win 21 of those, losing just one.
City`s best chance will be that the occasion of the day with the return of Jose Mourinho negatively affects Chelsea. Should City negotiate the first-half without too much trouble, a point could be taken from Stamford Bridge. On paper though, Chelsea are strong favourites and should win.
Chelsea 2 - 1 Hull City
Date:Saturday August 17 2013
Stats: Hull City v Stoke City (Sunday December 15 2013)
Preview: Hull City -Vs- Stoke City (Saturday December 14 2013)
Allam makes FA application to change club name (Wednesday December 11 2013)
Stats: Swansea City v Hull City (Wednesday December 11 2013)
Preview: Swansea -Vs- Hull City (Monday December 9 2013)
City away at Middlesbrough in FA Cup (Sunday December 8 2013)
Stats: Arsenal v Hull City (Thursday December 5 2013)
Preview: Arsenal -Vs- Hull City (Wednesday December 4 2013)
City stop Fryatt continuing Wednesday loan spell (Monday December 2 2013)
Report: Hull City 3 - 1 Liverpool (Monday December 2 2013)
|Hull City||0||-||1||Crystal Palace|
|11. Aston Villa||16||5||4||7||-5||19|
|12. Hull City||16||5||4||7||-6||19|
|Vital Villa Man Of The Match v Manchester United
» Aston Villa : 18/12/2013 12:00:00
|Everton - The development centre for Europe
» Everton : 18/12/2013 11:44:00
|Liverpool: FA Cup Opponent And Date Confirmed
» Liverpool : 18/12/2013 10:55:00
|Bucking The Trend?
» Aston Villa : 18/12/2013 10:17:00
|Striker Exit? No, Don't Worry, Not THAT Striker!
» Aston Villa : 18/12/2013 09:54:00
|The Ped Report Leicester City 1-3 City
» Man City : 18/12/2013 08:47:00
|Tottenham Hotspur vs West Ham
» Spurs : 18/12/2013 08:39:00