Hull City vs Southampton Preview: Puel's men ready to pounce on tame Tigers

Hull are struggling to adapt to life back in the Premier League, meaning the Saints will travel up to Yorkshire expecting the three points.

Hull City vs Southampton Preview: Puel's men ready to pounce on tame Tigers
Hull and Southampton face off on Sunday at the KCOM Stadium. Photo: Steve Bardens (Zimbio).

Struggling Hull City welcome Southampton to the KCOM Stadium on Sunday, with both sides looking to bounce back after defeats last time out in the Premier League.

Despite this, the two teams will enter this intriguing encounter with opposing morale. The need for victory though, is one of the few things the pair have in common.

The yo-yo years (a brief history lesson)

There was a time, about a ten years ago, when Hull and Southampton would have been considered to be on about the same level. Both were lingering in the Championship, dreaming of that treasured promotion to the Premier League and the big time. 

Then, things got interesting. Promotions and relegations galore followed for both teams. Hull were able to find that elusive holy grail and win promotion to the richest league in the world, but before they knew it, they were back down, then back up, then back down again. Last season, they continued to 'yo-yo', gaining their third promotion to the Premier League in eight years.

Southampton and Hull do battle in the Championship, back in 2012. Photo: Tom Cairney (Zimbio).
Southampton and Hull do battle in the Championship, back in 2012. Photo: Tom Cairney (Zimbio).

Southampton's path to playing Premier League football this season was as eventful, but perhaps less complicated. After dropping to the third tier of English football, back-to-back promotions saw them return to the top flight in 2012. 

Back to the present: Opposing ends of the spectrum

So, fast forward to the 2016-17 season, and the clubs fluctuating fortunes have resulted in dramatic changes from those mundane times of a decade ago.

Southampton, after their return to the Premier League, have steadily, but impressively, improved year-after-year, becoming a solid and respectable club. On Thursday night, their remarkable rise continued, as they defeated European giants Inter Milan at St Mary's in the Europa League, meaning manager Claude Puel's men's confidence going into Sunday's game is sky-high. 

Southampton are on a high after beating Inter Milan on Thursday. Photo: Michael Steele (Zimbio).

On the other hand, newly-promoted Hull have not been able to adjust to the demands of Premier League football. Unpopular owners off the pitch, allied with a squad which is surely too light to compete on it, mean that the Mike Phelan's toothless Tigers sit third from bottom going into this encounter.

As a result, morale is surely at rock-bottom, and a Southampton side coming off the most important win of the campaign is a less than ideal opponent.

On paper, it is a routine victory for the visitors. They are brimming with confidence, and are facing a side who seem to be totally out of their depth. However, it would be foolish to expect anything other than the unexpected in the Premier League, meaning this clash looks set to be very interesting. 

Team news

For the hosts, striker Dieumerci Mbokani could return to the side after a hamstring injury. Robert Snodgrass is also in with a chance of coming back into the team, as he looks to recover from an ankle injury.

Midfielder Robert Snodgrass could return for Hull. Photo: Shaun Botterill (Zimbio).

Playing in Europe is beginning to take its toll on Southampton. Shane Long, Cedric Soares, Matt Targett and Alex McCarthy all remain side-lined. The team that saw off Inter on Thursday will undoubtedly be altered, with skipper Jose Fonte and top scorer Charlie Austin fully expected to start after being on the bench in the week.

Match Facts

In their last eight Premier League matches, Hull have taken just a single point.

Hull have also conceded the most goals in the league this season (23 from 10 matches).

Southampton are yet to win this season in the league after going a goal behind

Southampton haven't lost back-to-back league games since March (they went down 2-0 to Chelsea last Sunday).