Hull City-Manchester City Preview
They may be second in the Premier League and five points clear of their local rivals, but the pressure is building on Manuel Pellegrini's Manchester City.
Man City (14-6-3) have won just one of their last five in the league, missing opportunities to draw closer to league leaders Chelsea, who remain five points clear at the top of the table. A 1-1 draw with the Blues last week came after a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Arsenal at the Etihad, and both results came without the absent Yaya Toure.
Both Toure and January signing Wilfried Bony remain unavailable for Saturday's game against Hull City due to their Ivory Coast commitments at the African Cup of Nations, but captain Vincent Kompany remains confident of picking up three points against the Tigers without the team's talismanic midfielder and equally confident of overtaking Chelsea.
"This is just such a usual situation for us," Kompany said. "Five points behind in January or February - big deal. We feel very comfortable being in that position. We've been in it many times before. We don't get overexcited, we don't get overconfident or too desperate. I can't remember ever leading. I would love to be 20 points clear, but it is what it is.
"For us there are some tricky games coming up but we're better in those moments. I think Chelsea now, they look solid, they look like they know what they're doing, they have a lot of experience and lot of great players - But we have that too."
Kompany is right to feel confident going into this match against a horribly out-of-form Hull. Steve Bruce's side (4-7-12) have lost six of their last eight to slump into the bottom three and will travel to Manchester on the back of three straight defeats without a single goal scored.
Only the near record-breaking attack of Aston Villa have mustered fewer goals than Hull's 20 in 23 games, but it was the defensive performance in last weekend's 3-0 defeat to Newcastle United that really riled Bruce.
"If you make mistakes at this level, which we did, you will be punished," the manager said. "You then need to roll up your sleeves and make sure it doesn't turn into an awful afternoon, but unfortunately it did. The second half simply wasn't good enough, nor was it acceptable at this level.
"I'll do everything within my power to make sure we stay in this division. We've had a successful two-and-a-half years and we've got to stay up here by hook or by crook. It's down to me, my staff and the players to get us out of the hole we're in at the moment."
Hull will have to make do without the injured Ryan Snodgrass for the rest of their relegation-threatened season, while Mohamed Diame, Liam Rosenior and James Chester are all sidelined for at least two months.
Man City's only injury concerns are over Samir Nasri and Eliaquim Mangala, both of whom face late fitness tests.
The Tigers were beaten 4-2 when these teams met at the KC Stadium earlier in September. Man City let a two-goal lead slip in that match and Mangala was sent off in the first half, but Edin Dzeko's second of the game and a late Frank Lampard penalty secured the points.
The Manchester club have won all three meetings between these sides since Hull's return to the top flight by an 8-2 aggregate. Hull have just one win in seven total Premier League meetings with the Citizens and have managed only a solitary point from three visits to the Etihad.