West Brom-Hull City Preview

JEFF FLETCHER (STATS European Editor)
The Associated PressMarch 21, 2014

Hull City welcome West Bromwich Albion to the KC Stadium Saturday with both sides desperate for points to help preserve their top-flight status.

Hull (8-6-15) have enjoyed a successful run in the FA Cup his season and play third-tier Sheffield United in the semifinals at Wembley on Apr. 13, but the Tigers have had a lean time in the Premier League and are in danger of being sucked into a late-season relegation battle.

Steve Bruce's side have lost three of their last four league matches and taken just seven points from a possible 30 since the turn of the year. Hull are currently 13th in the table but only five points above the drop zone.

Last weekend's 2-0 home defeat against 10-man Manchester City, who had skipper Vincent Kompany red-carded after only nine minutes, was Hull's third straight league defeat at the KC Stadium.

This weekend's match against Albion is the first of four fixtures against clubs all languishing in the bottom half of the table, and Hull feel they must collect points against these sides to boost their Premier League survival bid. The Baggies match is followed by away trips to West Ham United and Stoke City next week and a home game against Swansea City on Apr. 5.

Hull winger Ahmed Elmohamady accepts the importance of next Saturday's match and wants his team to make home advantage count.

"West Brom is a massive one," Elmohamady told his club's official website. "When you play the teams close to you in the table it's almost like playing for six points rather than three. To beat West Brom would be really good for us.

"It's a big run because we have West Ham and Stoke after that, but we have to take it one game at a time and West Brom at home is a massive one for us. We'll be working hard all week in training to be ready to try and take three points next weekend."

West Brom (5-13-11) are currently 16th in the standings and trail Hull by just two points.

The Baggies claimed only their second victory in 19 Premier League matches last Saturday when they fought back from a goal down to win 2-1 at Swansea with strikes from Stephane Sessegnon and Youssouf Mulumbu. It was also manager Pepe Mel's first win in eight matches since replacing the sacked Steve Clarke.

"I am pleased for the fans and the players," Mel told his club's official website after the Swansea match. "We needed to win and in football confidence is all. Hopefully things will be different now.

"The next game is the most important for us against Hull City."

Hull will be missing midfielder George Boyd who begins a three-match ban after being found guilty by the Football Association of spitting at Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart.

Baggies skipper Chris Brunt remains sidelined with a knee injury, while vice-captain Jonas Olsson begins a two-game ban for picking up ten yellow cards this season.

The sides played out a 1-1 draw at The Hawthorns in December. Jake Livermore put the Tigers ahead after 28 minutes and that lead lasted nearly an hour before Matej Vydra scored the equalizer four minutes from time. The Baggies dominated proceedings, holding 61 percent of the ball and outshooting Hull 14-6.

The Tigers are unbeaten in their last four matches against Albion in league play, drawing their last two and winning the previous two.