Tactically Speaking

The Official Website takes an in-depth look at how Hull City could line up on Saturday, while also focusing on Mark Noble's influential role in the West Ham United side.

West Ham United

Noble cause for optimism

Mark Noble

With a Barclays Premier League trip to Hull City looming on Saturday, WhoScored.com have been analysing the stats to determine which player can swing the game in West Ham United's favour at the KC Stadium.

After an impressive victory over Cardiff City in the Capital One Cup third round, confidence is certainly high in the Hammers camp, perhaps more so as West Ham won without fans' favourite Mark Noble. The midfielder missed Tuesday night's 3-2 victory through suspension, but could return to the Hammers midfield at the weekend.

With an average WhoScored.com rating of 7.24 this season - only centre-back pairing Winston Reid (7.39) and James Collins (7.25) have scored higher - Noble's impact has been clear for all to see.

Offering the creativity in the middle of the park has seen the 26-year-old play nine key passes in the opening five Barclays Premier League games of the season - the most of every West Ham player - with that figure just 5 behind Eden Hazard (14), who leads the Premier League for key passes this term.

Noble's creativity from deep is an evident facet of his game that will benefit the club and his team-mates. The Englishman is averaging 47.6 passes per game - the most of every West Ham player.

Ensuring that the fluidity of the team pressing forward is not disrupted, Noble's contribution when in possession will improve the attacking threat of West Ham in the quest to land three points against Hull. However, while this aspect of his game is essential to Sam Allardyce's side, without the ball he is more than capable of disrupting the flow of the opposition.

Winning possession in the midfield third of the pitch on 23 occasions, he has done so more times than any other West Ham player, thereby limiting the opposition's chances of breaking through.

Moreover, Noble is averaging 2.2 interceptions per game, also the most of any player in Allardyce's team. Evidently, his defensive contribution is just as important as his offensive contribution, with his determination to win the ball back and recycle possession an aspect that is mightily important to the good of the team.

West Ham have won four of their last five league meetings with Hull, including a dominating West Ham performance the last time the teams met in the Barclays Premier League at the Boleyn Ground in February 2010. The Hammers secured a 3-0 win, attained 57 per cent possession over the 90 minutes and were in the ascendency throughout.

Moreover, having netted 12 goals in those five games and conceded just four, West Ham will believe that they can secure victory against Steve Bruce's side and if they are to land the three points, it's Noble that will play a pivotal role in the heart of the midfield for the Hammers.

*WhoScored.com is a website and one of the fastest growing in the sports industry, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data. Follow @WhoScored on Twitter.

Hull City

Probable starting XI

McGregor

Elmohamady  Faye  Davies  Figueroa

Quinn  Huddlestone  Livermore  Brady

Aluko  Graham

Hull City achieved one of their best-ever Barclays Premier League results last Saturday, winning 3-2 at Newcastle United after twice going ahead and being pegged back by the hosts.

A midweek 1-0 Capital One Cup victory over Championship side Huddersfield Town at the KC Stadium will have done nothing to dampen the spirits of Steve Bruce and his squad.

Tactically, Hull employ a 4-4-2 formation, with two flat banks of four behind deep-lying forward Sone Aluko and central striker Danny Graham.

Like many Barclays Premier League sides, Hull like to mix up their style of play, passing patiently or playing in a more direct style when the need arises. They can also rely on a bit of individual brilliance from certain players to open up opposition defences.

Starting in goal, Scotland international Allan McGregor is an experienced stopper. When in possession, the 31-year-old will either roll the ball to his centre-backs or look for Graham and left-winger Robbie Brady with long clearances.

In front of him, Hull do try to play the ball out from the back, but they will not be afraid to mix it up with long balls forward, particularly when put under pressure by West Ham's forwards.

Right-back Ahmed Elmohamady is a forward-thinking player who is not afraid to try to create chances with crosses or to run with the ball at his feet. Always involved in the game, the Egyptian has completed 275 passes in five matches at an average of 55 per game - the highest of any Hull player by some distance. He has also put in more crosses than any other Hull player.

Left-back Maynor Figueroa, who could return to the side following a period of compassionate leave, is also attack-minded and does not mind letting fly from long-range. If he is not available, right-footed Liam Rosenior - son of former Hammers striker Leroy - will deputise.

In the centre, Hull will be without James Chester has been ruled out for eight weeks after suffering a pulled hamstring. His place will go to either former Hammer Abdoulaye Faye or Alex Bruce.

Whoever plays, he and partner Curtis Davies are more likely to sit deeper than to aggressively try to win balls from West Ham's forwards, especially when they drop deep to receive the ball. Hull's defensive set-up is focused on not letting the opposition get in behind them. Between them, Chester and Davies had made 93 clearances, made 22 interceptions and blocked 13 shots in the Tigers' opening five league matches.

The flat four in midfield sees Hull play with two out-and-out wingers in Brady and Stephen Quinn.

On the left, Irishman Brady is a skilful left-footed player who hugs the touchline and will not hesitate for a second to take on his full-back - in this case, possibly compatriot Joey O'Brien - and get in crosses and shots. Despite his relative lack of height, Brady is also decent in the air. He is Hull's top scorer with two goals and has also chalked up one assist.

Right-winger Quinn is also left-footed. He has come in for the injured Robert Koren after the Hull captain broke his foot. Quinn is short in stature at 5'7" but possesses good technique and work-rate.

Should Bruce opt for former Peterborough United man George Boyd, he is another skilful operator capable of both scoring and assisting goals, as he did at Newcastle.

In the centre, former Tottenham Hotspur pair Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore should start. Huddlestone is well-known for his outstanding technique, range of passing and ability to shoot with either foot. Livermore is a more athletic player who will fill a more defensive role.

Up front, Aluko poses a serious threat to the Hammers, playing in a slightly withdrawn role behind Graham. Quick, strong and direct, the Nigeria international has a sharp change of pace which he uses to wrong-foot defenders and get shots away. Aluko has the highest pass-completion percentage (86.7) and has attempted more shots (eleven) and dribbles (eleven) than any other Hull player.

Graham is a strong centre forward who will lead the line by running the channels, holding up play and getting on the end of high balls. Defensively, the 28-year-old is also willing to close down defenders to force hurried clearances.

Bruce has alternatives up front, with Ivory Coast international Yannick Sagbo among his options. The powerful former Evian man started the midweek cup victory over Huddersfield alongside tall German Nick Proschwitz, who scored the winning goal.