With their Premier League survival and a place in next season's Europa League assured, Hull City will be looking to end their season on a high when they travel to Old Trafford to play Manchester United on Tuesday.
Steve Bruce's Hull (10-7-19) have won just one in six in the league, but - with both Fulham and Cardiff City relegated over the weekend and Norwich failing to beat Chelsea - the Tigers are now mathematically safe from the drop. Arsenal's guaranteed top-four finish also means that FA Cup finalists Hull will be one of England's representatives in the Europa League next season, just a year after an unexpected promotion from the Championship.
However, Hull have been in poor form in recent weeks, and manager Bruce urged his players to up their performances in the two remaining league matches prior to their Wembley showpiece on May 17.
"That was arguably our worst performance of the season," said Bruce, reflecting on Saturday's 3-1 reverse against Aston Villa. "When you make mistakes, don't defend properly and don't have resilience about you, you're going to have afternoons like that in the Premier League. That isn't like us, as we've seen for the last nine or ten months. But on Saturday, we were nowhere near the level we would expect. We looked nervous for some reason and you just have to say it was a bad day at the office.
"People will talk about cup finals, but we have to see this season off better than what we witnessed on Saturday."
It was a familiar tale for Manchester United (18-6-12) on Saturday, when the Red Devils failed to break down an organised opposition and were beaten 1-0 by Sunderland. The result effectively ended speculation that interim manager Ryan Giggs may take the manager's position full-time for next season.
United were missing striker Wayne Rooney for the defeat against the Black Cats, but Giggs revealed that he is hoping to see the England striker in a United shirt again before the end of the campaign.
"I hope he will play again this season, we will keep monitoring him and see how he is for Tuesday," said Giggs, before turning his attention to Nemanja Vidic ahead of the defender's last home game for the club. "It is the last home game and obviously you want a positive result. Vida has been a brilliant player over the years, he is probably the greatest defender I have ever played with and I have played with some good ones. He is right up there, he is a brilliant player and obviously he will be sorely missed."
Manchester United have injury doubts over Anders Lindegaard (illness), Rooney (groin) and Rafael (hamstring), while Hull have concerns over the fitness of Sone Aluko (ankle), James Chester (hamstring) and Paul McShane (ankle), and are missing Robbie Brady (groin) and Allan McGregor (kidney).
A Chester own goal gave United a 3-2 win when these teams met at the KC Stadium on Boxing Day. Chester had opened the scoring after just four minutes and David Meyler doubled the Tigers' lad nine minutes later, but goals from Chris Smalling and Rooney pulled it back to 2-2 by half-time, and Chester's afternoon went full circle when he turned into his own net midway through the second half. Antonio Valencia was shown a late red card in an action-packed game.
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- Europa League
- Steve Bruce
- Hull City
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