West Brom-Hull City Preview
Hull City and West Bromwich Albion are without a win between them for over a month, so there will be plenty at stake Saturday when the two meet at the KC Stadium.
Steve Bruce's Hull City (2-6-6) ended a run of four games without a point when they scrambled to a 1-1 draw against Everton on Wednesday, but the Tigers remain without a win in seven (0-3-4).
Bruce has struggled to integrate their summer signings into a squad that reached the FA Cup final last season, and a shaky defence and a lack of fluency in attack are providing concern in equal measure. Injuries have played a part in Bruce's inability to gel the squad, and after the draw with Everton, the Hull boss spoke of his frustration at the impact injuries have had thus far.
"I don't think I've really played the team which, in my mind, is my best team, for one reason or another," Bruce said. "But I'm still convinced we have a squad that will improve us from last year, because we have more depth - and that showed tonight.
"The Premier League already has a familiar look - the bottom eight or nine teams you would expect to be there, and our aim is to be at the top of that group if we can. We are under no illusions how difficult it will be - it is our second season, and sometimes that is harder than the first. There is no expectation first time around. Nobody gave us a hope in hell of staying up last year and we managed to do it easily. This time no one thinks we are going to get relegated, and that is the expectation we have to deal with. But from what I have seen tonight and all season, we will be okay. I'm convinced."
West Brom (3-4-7) visit the KC Stadium looking to snap a four-match losing streak. Alan Irvine's side were beaten 2-1 by West Ham in midweek as their autumn capitulation ran into December, but the Baggies boss still found plenty of encouragement to take from his team's performance.
"I have never known a second half like that in which a team has been so completely dominant and finished up without anything," Irvine said. "We did absolutely everything but score and the effort we put in was absolutely fantastic. If we play like we did at the start of this game and play like we did in the second half we will turn things around.
"We started well, but there was a sudden nervousness that crept in after a couple of mistakes. I wanted the break to get the team settled down again but of course I didn't expect to do it from the position of 2-1 down. We've got to keep on doing the things we believe in, there are a lot of positives to take."
West Brom have injury concerns over James Morrison and Chris Brunt, while Jonas Olsson is out until January. Hull's injury concerns have eased, although dynamic midfielder Mohamed Diame is a doubt due to a knee injury and David Meyler is also struggling with a knee problem.
The Tigers took four points off West Brom last season, but the Baggies got bragging rights back with a 3-2 League Cup win Sept. 24.