Swansea City-Hull City Preview
Christmas is likely to be anything but merry for struggling Hull City.
One point off the foot of the Premier League and without a win in nine, Steve Bruce's Hull (2-7-7) appear to be in free fall after enjoying such an impressive return to the top flight last season.
The Tigers strengthened heavily in the summer, but have struggled to gel together in what has been a disjointed start. Last weekend's 2-0 defeat to Chelsea means that Bruce's side have picked up just four points since mid-October and are in desperately poor form heading into the busiest run of fixtures in the season.
"We have a tough winter ahead, but I'm still convinced that we have a squad good enough to move up the table," Bruce said. "It is frustrating as we could have quite easily been six, seven or eight points better off. We're not and we must now roll our sleeves up.
"The difficulty is that when you lose confidence in this league you've got to stay positive and stick with it - I'm convinced we will get out of trouble."
On Saturday, Hull host Garry Monk's Swansea City (6-4-6), who have just one win in the last five. However, the Swans' level of performance has been extremely competitive, with Monk claiming that had last weekend's last-gasp 2-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur been a boxing match, it would have been called off.
Striker Wilfried Bony scored in the loss to Spurs, making it either a goal or an assist for the Ivorian in each of his last five league games, while creative midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson's eight assists have him second only to Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas. With that duo in such sparkling form, and Wayne Routledge and Jefferson Montero supplying blistering pace on the wings, Swansea are a dangerous attacking force. However, Monk is not taking anything for granted against a Hull side who haven't lost to the Swans in any of the last four meetings (2-2-0).
"I'd imagine they are looking at this game as a chance to turn around their form," Monk said. "They have a very experienced manager who I'm sure will work out a way to get them back to winning ways. We've had some difficult games and circumstances away from home. But we want to win and we go there with the intention to get three points. It's important that we come away with something this weekend.
"There were mistakes (against Spurs), but the players performed very very well. We weren't clinical enough and unfortunately we got punished for the mistakes we made, but the situations and chances we created were very pleasing. Sometimes the ball doesn't seem to want to go into the back of the net. We are a collective unit. As long as the team wins, we don't care who scores."
Hull City will be without summer signings Michael Dawson and Mohamed Diame for over a month due to injury, while fellow summer addition Robert Snodgrass is out for the season with a knee problem. Swansea's only injury concern is over defender Federico Fernandez.
Bruce's side won this fixture 1-0 last season and also picked up a point at the Liberty Stadium with a 1-1 draw.