WILLIE DUNCAN (@Willie_Duncan) runs the rule over Boxing Day's late Premier League kick-off between Hull and Manchester City.
Hull v Manchester City | Boxing Day 17:15 | Sky Sports 1
Life in the top tier was never going to be easy for Hull and Steve Bruce’s dramatic decision to depart KCOM Stadium shortly before the first ball of the season was kicked certainly didn’t help matters.
The Tigers, though, began the season in bullish mood; there was a hugely impressive 2-1 win against Leicester in the opening game of the campaign and that victory was swiftly followed by another against Swansea, with three points procured from a potentially tricky trip to the Liberty Stadium.
The Tigers came agonisingly close to holding Manchester United on home soil soon after and, somehow, it seems as if Marcus Rashford’s late, late winner for Jose Mourinho’s men has haunted the team from Humberside ever since.
In 14 top-flight tussles since, Mike Phelan’s men have picked up six points – three draws, just the one win and 10 utterly demoralising defeats.
The solitary victory, bagged against Southampton from a goal down, may have felt like the beginning of something for the Tigers, but a dismal 3-0 defeat against Sunderland in the following fixture showed that it was merely a false dawn.
Manchester City, too, have lost some of their shine since a stunning start to the season, although Pep Guardiola’s men made a much more dramatic start – winning each of their opening 10 games under the guidance of the former Barcelona chief.
And the Citizens’ fall from grace has been infinitely less dramatic; indeed the men from Manchester are in the Last 16 of the Champions League and, just seven points from the Premier League summit.
City capable without Kun
Star striker Sergio Aguero has been on the sidelines for the last couple of weeks, paying his penance for a high, ugly challenge on David Luiz, and the Argentine international will again miss out this time – but, surely, Guardiola’s side will not need him at the KCOM.
Back-to-back Premier League wins against Watford and Arsenal appear to have steadied the ship for City after a shocking 4-2 defeat at the hands of Leicester earlier this month and the visitors can be trusted to hit a hat-trick when they spend Boxing Day in Humberside against Mike Phelan’s men.
The Tigers have been painfully toothless in recent weeks, with Hull finding the net inside 90 minutes in just two of their last seven matches in all competitions.
Manchester City’s defence has been subject of plenty of criticism in recent weeks, for Guardiola’s men have kept just two clean sheet in their last 19 games, but the visitors will likely enjoy a comfortable 90 minutes in this clash.
It is therefore, the 7/5 (Paddy Power) quote for Manchester City to win ‘to nil’ that represents best value for punters ahead of Boxing Day’s match.
Hull v Manchester City – Manchester City to win to nil (7/5 Paddy Power)