Five Talking Points - Hull City

Five Talking Points


West Ham United travel to Hull City on Saturday eager to end a run of five Premier League matches without a win. Here are five storylines to look out for at the KCOM Stadium...


1. Reshuffle?

West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic will need to make some big decisions ahead of Saturday’s trip to the KCOM Stadium.

With Winston Reid, Pedro Obiang and Michail Antonio all out injured, Bilic will need to decide who replaces three of his regular starters.

At centre-half, James Collins is the natural replacement, but the manager may opt to continue Cheikhou Kouyate’s tour around the pitch by starting the Senegalese in defence.

In midfield, Mark Noble is expected to return after missing the Leicester City defeat through injury, but if Kouyate does drop back, he will be joined in midfield by either Havard Nordtveit or Edimilson Fernandes.

Finally, Antonio’s absence means either Sofiane Feghouli or Robert Snodgrass will return to the team.


2. Time to turn shots into goals

Sofiane Feghouli
West Ham United have not won any of their last five Premier League matches – their joint-longest such run this season.

Despite scoring in each of those five matches, outshooting their opponents in four of them and 76-59 overall, talk of the Hammers being crisis has emerged on social media and among selected journalists and pundits.

But, cast your mind back 18 months and the Hammers went on an eight-match winless run between Halloween and Boxing Day that saw them drop from third to tenth in the table. Back then, it was not even a drama. Likewise, the current situation is far from a crisis.


3. A good team in a bad position?

As one member of the Hammers’ backroom team said this week, ‘Hull are a good team who happen to be in the relegation zone’.

The Tigers may have won just three of the nine Premier League matches they have contested since Marco Silva was appointed as head coach on 5 January, but they are unbeaten in the four of those nine played at the KCOM Stadium.

Hull have beaten AFC Bournemouth, Liverpool and Swansea City on home turf since Silva’s arrival, while Burnley left the East Riding of Yorkshire with a point.

Away from home, Hull’s fixture list has been daunting in the five matches managed by Silva – Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Leicester City and Everton – so a haul of just one point from those matches was perhaps to be expected.

So, if West Ham think they are in for a relatively comfortable afternoon on Saturday, they are wrong.


4. Arthur’s seat

Arthur Masuaku
Aside from the changes Slaven Bilic will make due to injury, there is some speculation that Arthur Masuaku could be handed the start at left-back.

The 23-year-old is a dynamic player who made an impact when he appeared as a substitute against Leicester City last time out.

Whether he plays or not, the Frenchman will know plenty about the man in the opposing dugout, for Marco Silva was his manager at Greek champions Olympiacos last season.

Under the Portuguese, Masuaku started and finished 23 of the club’s 30 Greek Superleague matches, winning 21, drawing one and losing just one. He also appeared five times in the UEFA Champions League group stage, twice in the UEFA Europa League and in the Greek Cup final.


5. Snoddy’s return

Robert Snodgrass will make his first return to KCOM Stadium following his January move from Hull City to West Ham United.

The Scotland winger has yet to score his first goal in Claret and Blue, but he does remain Hull’s leading scorer in the Premier League with seven goals and in all competitions with nine.

It remains to be seen what sort of reception the 29-year-old will get on his return but, whether he is jeered or cheered, Snodgrass will be eager to make an impact against his old club.

As an aside, Mark Noble will also return to the club where he made five Championship appearances on loan during the 2005/06 season.