After a 2-1 loss against Chelsea, Manchester City need a rebound victory against Hull City after earning just two points from their last three matches. City sit in fourth place in the Premier League table, but they must get some wins to stay in the top-four race.
Hull City are in their own race, but it is not for the Top-4. The Tigers currently sit in 17th place on the table, only two points ahead of Swansea City, the first team in the relegation zone. Because they often fluctuate between the Premier League and the Championship, staying up this season will be a major achievement for Hull.
Hull have managed to stay above the relegation zone after January even without their former star man, Robert Snodgrass, with a string of solid performances. They have won three of their last four league matches, and the squad depth which was questioned earlier this year has proven to be there, as players from across the pitch are stepping up to lead the Tigers, thanks to a fantastic job done by new manager Marco Silva.
This promises to be a very big match on Saturday. Here are a few players from each side who can lead their respective teams to important points.
Hull’s main shot stopper has had his struggles this season, especially during his prolonged time on the bench in the first half of the season. However, he has played well after taking over David Marshall’s spot.
The Swiss keeper averages 3.6 saves per game this season, two of those coming from shots inside the box. However, Jakupovic hasn’t held a clean sheet since last February's match against Liverpool, where he made five saves. He will need a performance like that to keep Hull in the game.
Although the Brazilian conceded a stupid penalty at Stamford Bridge, he didn’t play badly. He is taking part in the attack, as demonstrated by his three shots at Stamford Bridge (one of them was on target).
Fernandinho didn't face Hull due to suspension in December, so he'll look to make a big impact on this Saturday's match.
Hull have struggled to find a consistent goalscorer all year. Robert Snodgrass still leads the Tigers in both goals and assists, and he has been with West Ham United for three months now. Abel Hernández has struggled with lingering injury problems all year, and no one has truly stepped up to take control of the attack.
Enter Niasse, who has scored 3 goals in his last 4 games, including a heroic 27-minute appearance against Swansea City, where he came off the bench and scored both of Hull’s goals to lead them to victory. The Senegalese striker needs to keep up his goal scoring form if Hull have any chance of winning the match.
After playing a combined 56 minutes in City’s last two matches, Sterling is expected to make the full 90 minutes again. Raheem did struggle in the last few matches and Pep Guardiola’s decision to bench him had some merit, but City need the young winger to spark the attack against Hull.
In the Premier League, Sterling has six goals and five assists, which is already better than his tally last season. Look for Sterling to make a big return on Saturday afternoon if City end up winning.