With the point gap between Hull City and Swansea remaining at two points heading into the final three Premier League games of the season, Marco Silva’s men know they must raise their game and finish the season strong – starting this weekend against an already relegated Sunderland side. Despite the late heroics of goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic giving Tigers fans an unexpected high during our 0-0 draw at St Mary’s on Saturday, Swansea’s impressive 1-1 draw at Old Trafford the following day ensured the feet of City fans remained firmly on the ground. Our Premier League fate is still in our own hands, however, while the gap remains so minute, the Tigers’ cannot afford to slip-up.
The different ways individuals interpret the Premier League table is fascinating. Currently the views of the City faithful regarding our survival chances seem split directly down the middle. Despite Sunderland and Middlesbrough’s inevitable doom, Swansea picking a point up against United on Sunday appears to have really spooked a large number of previously confident Hull City fans. While some fans, including myself, still believe we remain firmly in the driving seat as long as we are ‘points on the board’ ahead of Swansea, others remain nervous that dropped points at the likes of Stoke and Southampton will come back to bite us, especially after comparing the remaining fixtures lists of ourselves and Swansea.
While the Tigers face the potentially awkward visit of Sunderland – a side of individuals who have nothing to play for but pride and ‘shop-window’ contract opportunities – Swansea face a wounded Everton side, fresh from their 3-0 battering at the hands of Chelsea last Sunday. While our game is clearly the more winnable on paper, anything other than a Hull City win would pile the pressure onto the Tigers, regardless of Swansea’s result. I can almost feel the oncoming barrage of ‘Typical City’ hashtags on social media. I have been using the annoying phrase ‘must-win’ for a few weeks now but Saturday’s result against the Black Cats really could be the difference between Premier League and Championship football next season.
The best case scenario would, of course, see City move five points clear of Swansea with just two games remaining. However, it can definitely be argued that Swansea, and their talismanic midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, do have the easier final two games of the season – playing Sunderland away and West Brom as their season finale at the Liberty. Compared to Hull City’s trip to Crystal Palace, before the visit of Spurs on the final day of the season, anything other than a five point gap come Saturday evening would indeed make City’s situation look a whole lot bleaker.
Form would suggest Hull have nothing to worry about this weekend. A combination of Hull City’s, and Macro Silva’s own individual, home records, mixed with the fact that David Moyes’ Sunderland have not won a game in ten attempts suggests that the three points should be in the bank. However, we all know football is not as simple as that, especially when Hull City are involved. Silva must, as he has at home all year, not allow his side to get complacent and start with a positive and attacking line-up, looking to take the game to Sunderland from the very start and not allow Moyes’ men to take it to the trenches.
While this Premier League weekend will certainly not decide if Hull City will remain in the top flight for another season, it certainly might decide if we are bound for the Championship. As I have already stated, regardless of Swansea’s result against a tough Everton side, City cannot afford anything other than a win at the KCOM on Saturday. They say there is nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal, and with an already relegated Sunderland visiting the KCOM with nothing to lose this weekend, Hull City must not show even an ounce of complacency. After all, unlike the Black Cats, we do have a hell of a lot to lose.