Hull City vs Sunderland pre-match analysis: Tigers look to confound relegated Black Cats' woes

Hull City ​welcome already-relegated Sunderland to the ​KCOM Stadium ​on Saturday afternoon as they look to take a step closer to Premier League ​survival.

The Tigers have taken 19 points from a possible 21 at home since Marco Silva's arrival in January, when they looked dead set to fall back down to the Championship.

Testament to the job he has done, Hull find themselves with a chance of avoiding the drop with just three games left to play. Sitting two points above Swansea City with a total of 34 points, a win at the weekend would do wonders for Silva's side.

Even though Sunderland are already down, this game will have huge ramifications for the rest of the sides battling to avoid the drop. The question is, will Hull pull off the great escape?

Strong home form will be crucial

Hull have set a club record in the top-flight for a run of four consecutive home wins and eight home games unbeaten.

Their form at the KCOM has been at the heart of their revival, with impressive performances against some of the sides in the top six, particularly Liverpool, indicative of just how far the side have come since Silva took up the reigns.

The Tigers' strong form will be pivotal on Saturday as they look to overcome David Moyes' side. Sunderland may already being down and out but the players won't want to go out with an almighty whimper for what remains of their tenure in the top-flight.

With both sides relatively evenly matched, the home crowd could have another important role to play in the outcome of the match.

Win, and Hull City would suddenly look a good bet to avoid the drop, but lose, and the pressure will mount on Silva for the last two games. Depending on Swansea's result against Everton, it could even see them fall into the danger zone. That's how crucial this game is.

Solid defensive performance needed once more

For a team that conceded 41 away goals before kick-off, Hull were impecable at the back against Southampton last time out. They showed no signs of their usual frailties, producing a gutsy and gritty display.

Harry Maguire and Andrea Ranocchia led by example with two colossal performances to keep Manolo Gabbiadini at bay throughout the ninety minutes - not an easy task by any means. Southampton were limited to just two shots on target and the defensive duo will be looking to contribute similar performances against Sunderland.

Jermain Defoe is a proven goalscorer. Give him a chance and you'd bet your house on him tucking it into the back of the net. Thus, the entire back-four will need to be on their toes throughout the match to ensure he is kept quiet.

Scoring four times in five Premier League matches against the Tigers, Defoe loves a goal at the KCOM and he'll be looking to cap off his solid season with another goal to his name.

However, Hull have really impressive of late and can record a third consecutive clean sheet. That would be their best defensive run of 2016-17, earmarking the upturn in form they have enjoyed across the field.

As against Southampton, it will be no easy task to keep Defoe and co. at bay, but if Hull can show the authority and determination they have at the back in recent weeks, you'd fancy them to come out on top.

Greater attacking impetus is a must

Last time out, Hull managed just one shot on target at St Mary's. They have scored just nine goals all season on the road - fewer than any other Premier League side.

No team has failed to score in as many away games as Hull in the Premier League this season - 10, the same as relegation strugglers Middlesbrough and already-down Sunderland. While their record makes for better reading in their own back yard, it is certainly an issue within Silva's team at present.

Oumar Niasse will need to find top gear at the weekend to ensure Hull come out with a valuable three points. Wasting the best chance of the game last week, he now needs to re-find his shooting boots and guide the team to safety.

Failure to do so will put even more pressure on the back four to shut up shop at the other end. Key to that will also be wide players Lazar Marković and Kamil Grosicki, who have all too often been found wanting with their final ball.