Pre-match analysis: Hull face a difficult crossing at the Bridge when they take on Chelsea

Pre-match analysis: Hull face a difficult crossing at the Bridge when they take on Chelsea

The Tigers have lost their last eight away games whilst the league leaders have won 14 from their previous 15 matches.

chris-lincoln
Chris Lincoln

Premier League strugglers Hull City face a mammoth task to overhaul an impressive Chelsea side who look almost untouchable in their quest to regain the title they won two seasons ago.

Chelsea hunting goals

Despite the clear improvements that Marco Silva has made on the Tigers which have returned two wins from three games, Hull will do well to prevent the free-flowing football of Antonio Conte's Chelsea on Sunday afternoon.

Conte has dismissed the stereotypical view of defensive Italian football by matching a formation to the strengths of the West London club, resulting in 45 goals from 21 games, second only to Arsenal and Liverpool in the top flight.

With the plot surrounding Diego Costa's perceived unhappiness and suggested move to China seemingly settling down, Chelsea could welcome back the Premier League's top goalscorer who will fancy his chances against the second leakiest defence in the league. The Spaniard has scored in all three appearances he has made against Hull, whilst the Tigers have not kept a clean sheet in England's top flight for 19 games.

Hull will have to close off the gaps between their lines

Just behind from the focal point of Costa is the enigmatic Eden Hazard. The Belgian is a master at finding pockets of space in and around the lines of the opposition, an area Hull have struggles to close off all season. With Jake Livermore moving on this week, the task is likely to fall to young Sam Clucas to somehow find a way of keeping Hazard quiet.

Hull will have to be wary of the runs from Pedro and look to redefine their often static defensive positioning to close down the channels the former Barcelona player will be looking to run into. Intriguing battles also lay further wide, with an exciting head-to-head between Victor Moses and Andy Robertson. Both players enjoy breaking forward and are more than adept defensively, with Moses in particular proving his versatility on the back of the formation change.

On the opposite flank Marcos Alonso will be a player to keep an eye on. With Ahmed Elmohamady and Moses Odubajo both unavailable, Silva will either play an unrecognised full-back in Harry Maguire or David Meyler against Alonso, though will most likely turn to loan signing Omar Elabdelloui despite only signing on Friday.

Tigers must show their bite

Hull's most likely route to success will come from organisation and preparation. An early Chelsea goal will more than likely open up the game for the hosts and a rout could be on for Conte's side. The Tigers will have to hunt the ball down and prevent Chelsea's stars from finding space but mindful of not being over-assertive. Giving away free-kicks could spell disaster for Hull after conceding 20 goals from set-pieces this season, more than any other side in the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga and Ligue 1. 

Going forward, Hull could simply be relying on luck in their quest for a goal. Abel Hernandez has refound his goalscoring touch after returning from injury but will find a tough unit to break down in Cesar Azplicueta, Gary Cahill and David Luiz. The Uruguayan is likely to be without the support of Hull's best player this season as Robert Snodgrass fights to be fit. Even if the Scotsman does make it, he will have to try and wriggle free of the attentions of N'golo Kante, arguably the best defensive midfielder in the country.

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