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Get the lowdown on the Tigers ahead of Saturday's game

Opposition Focus | Hull City

  
    

Philip Buckingham of the Hull Daily Mail provides the lowdown on the Tigers ahead of Saturday's match at the KCOM Stadium.


What sort of form are Hull in?

“For a team fighting relegation they are in quite good form. They've lost the last two but before that, they'd been on a good run, winning three out of four.

“Everybody knows there is a huge contrast between their away form and their home form. They've been fantastic at the KCOM and pretty awful away. They've had three straight wins at home – a fourth would give them big a lift.”

Can you put your finger on why there is such a contrast between the home and away form?

“I've asked the question time and again to the players and the manager and nobody can put their finger on it.

“Marco Silva will tell you there is no difference in the way they prepare or approach away games but they are certainly more confident at home. Even when they go behind at home, like they did against Boro, there is a real confidence they can turn it around. 

“They get good backing at home from the fans and do play on the front foot. They are not necessarily playing badly away from home - they are just not picking up results.”

What sort of approach can Watford fans expect from the Tigers?

“They like to get it down and play. Silva encourages them to play at a high tempo if they can. There is not one set approach or a set system. He's played with wing backs, he's played 4-4-2 and 4-3-3. But there will be a real clamour among the supporters to play with two strikers up top on Saturday.”

Watford have suffered their fair share of injuries this season. How has Hull's luck been?

“It's been a rotten season. They've lost Will Keane, Ryan Mason and Moses Odubajo for the season and now David Meyler has been added to that list. There is also a question mark over Omar Elabdellaoui, the right-back. He's had a back injury and missed the last four games.”

Do the people of Hull fancy their chances of staying up?

“People were already planning for life in the Championship at Christmas so to be in this position, with a fighting chance, is huge. 

“There is an awful lot of belief in Silva and for someone who was an unknown quantity, he's brought the whole place together and instilled an awful lot of confidence. I wouldn't say they expect to stay up but they are now much more hopeful than they were. 

“I can't see anyone above Hull getting dragged into it or Boro or Sunderland getting out of it, so it looks a two-horse race between Hull and Swansea.”

Nordin Amrabat gave the out-of-position Sam Clucas a tough game at Vicarage Road earlier in the season

Marco Silva seems like a bit of a revelation. What's he been like to deal with?

“He doesn't give much away. He's pretty guarded. Steve Bruce was a huge figure and very quotable but Silva is very cautious with his words and much more low key. He's done an absolutely superb job and you can't fault him. He remains on a level most of the time and doesn't get too high if they win or too low if they lose.

“It's pretty obvious there are other teams looking at his contract situation and there is a real feeling here that he could be a star of the Premier League. In many ways he could be using Hull as an audition to showcase himself to the rest of the Premier League.”

Who would get your vote as Hull Player of the Season?

“Sam Clucas. He'd never played in the Premier League before but he's played in all but one game this season and has been a real consistent performer in the centre of midfield. Tom Huddlestone and Harry Maguire have also both been excellent since December but, overall, Clucas would get my vote.”

Hull have just five games remaining. Just how big is Saturday's game?

“It's massive and everyone in the city knows just how big it is. They've got Sunderland at home too and there is a feeling if they beat Watford and Sunderland then they have an outstanding chance of staying up. 

“I still don't think this game is must-win yet but one point from their last 15 away from home tells you all you need to know about how important the home games are. If they can call on their home form this weekend then they will stand a real good chance of beating Watford. 

“It's not quite last-chance saloon as everybody expects it to go down to the last day. Everyone here is braced for a nervous ending and I don't think anyone needs telling how big a game this is.”

What sort of game do you expect?

“It's sure to be tense. Silva would love them to play like they did against Boro when they had them on the back foot from the off. I know Boro scored the first goal that day but City were pretty relentless. Silva bemoaned the slow start at Stoke last week so he'll want his team to be at it from the off. ”

The Hornets travel up with three wins out of their last four games. How are they viewed on Humberside?

“They look a fairly erratic team, and I think that's what gives people hope this weekend. You are never quite sure what Watford team will turn up. They've had some great results and to be safe already says it's pretty much mission accomplished. 

“I felt Hull were quite unlucky to lose the game at Vicarage Road earlier in the season. Watford had a strong first-half but Hull weathered that and were unfortunate to lose. But I guess the fact Watford pinched a late winner is why they are an established Premier League team and that's a big compliment for a side who were promoted not that long ago.”

    
  

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