Sunderland v Hull: Three key areas for David Moyes to tame Tigers

Robert Snodgrass
Robert Snodgrass
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Wouldn’t it be great if Sunderland went out and played Hull City off the park to send 40-odd thousand long-suffering souls home elated?

Of course it would. But the reality is that tomorrow’s basement battle at the Stadium of Light might be just that – a battle.

Snodgrass is making up for lost time at the KC Stadium.

It is likely to be tense and grim but it’s certainly a must-win game for the Black Cats.

A home victory could move David Moyes’s side to within three points of safety.

Here are three key areas for Sunderland if they are to achieve that.

Stick with the winning Bournemouth formula

What is the old saying ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’?

How nice was it to see the return of the 4-4-2 at Dean Court last time out? Moyes started with the ‘little & large’ pairing of Jermain Defoe and Victor Anichebe and what a decision.

Defoe provided the assist for Anichebe’s first goal for the club and Big Vic returned the favour in the second half.

It wasn’t pure 4-4-2, Anichebe filling in down the left flank at times while Defoe performed similar defensive duties in the second half after Steven Pienaar’s early bath.

But playing two up top would seem a logical plan for Sunderland.

While Hull’s defence has improved since their 6-1 drubbing at Dean Court last month, it is still hardly brimming with confidence.

The Black Cats need to put them under pressure and having the potency of Defoe allied with the force that is Anichebe could do exactly that.

Keep a lid on Robert Snodgrass

Hull City have lost two of their star turns Abel Hernandez and Will Keane to injury while Adama Diomande will be serving the third game of a three-match ban.

But both Dieumerci Mbokani and Robert Snodgrass are back to full fitness and are both dangermen, especially the Scot.

Snodgrass is truly a class act for the Tigers. The 29-year-old has had a hand in half of Hull’s 10 goals in the Premier League this season, scoring four and providing one assist.

While his goals have been vital, it has creativity of Snodgrass which has caught the eye. Almost every good chance Hull have had this season has been attempted by or fashioned by the attacker.

Snodgrass is making up for lost time at the KC Stadium. He spent 16 months out after dislocating a kneecap on his Premier League debut in August 2014.

If Sunderland are to tame any Tiger, then it must be him!

Hold your nerve

Here is one key area, on both sides of the white lines.

This is not going to be an end-to-end festival of free-flowing football.

Tomorrow could be all about holding tight at one end and taking a rare chance at the other.

If that chance does not present itself immediately, Sunderland’s players must keep the faith.

The same goes for the fans.

For those who only saw the Match of the Day highlights from the victory over Bournemouth, they did not do the Black Cats justice.

For the first time time this season, there were occasions, even extended instalments, when the team played good football and applied some serious pressure.

They must continue in the same vein at the Stadium of Light.

Hull are going to shut up shop at the Stadium of Light with a three-man defenside wall of Curtis Davies, Michael Dawson and Harry Maguire in front of their keeper.

Mike Phelan, down to 17 fit professionals because of injury and suspension, will have a three-point plan: Frustrate, frustrate and frustrate. 
He will hope to nick a goal and turn the red and white army against their team.

The home fans will play as important a role as the team tomorrow – they must stick behind the players tomorrow, no matter what.

A look at the weekly Hull stats show their opponents get plenty of the ball and sights at goal. A chance/ chances will come, but that nerve must be kept. Any sort of win is a must.