Chelsea will head to Hull for their 21st match of the season, and a victory would temporarily move the Blues into the top spot in the table. Both Arsenal and Manchester City have Saturday off, meaning both will be well aware of what Chelsea did before taking the pitch themselves.
If history is any indicator, the Blues will be heavy favorites to take three points away from this matchup. The two sides have met 40 times in the past, with Chelsea winning 26, drawing 10, and losing only four of those contests. At Hull, that record is somewhat closer, with Chelsea having won 12, drawn five, and lost four.
Only five times in the past have the two sides met in top-division play, twice each in Hull's first Premier League go-arounds, and once earlier this season. Both of Hull's first two Premier League campaigns ended with Chelsea recording a win in the first meeting and a draw in the second, with Jose Mourinho's men comfortably taking maximum points from the first such meeting of this season. Let's hope that trend ends tomorrow.
On paper, this should be a fairly comfortable game for the Blues. Hull sit right in the middle of the pack in terms of goals scored and goals conceded, roughly mirroring their table position. They generally lose the possession battle by a fairly wide margin, don't take a lot of shots, and a larger than normal percentage of their attempts come from outside the area. Corners and final third set-pieces are worrying though, as Tom Huddlestone is very good at delivering dangerous balls to attack.
Hull tend to be very wasteful with both their shooting and passing. They like to push the ball to the wings and fire crosses into the box, though they aren't particularly good at doing anything with those deliveries. They also tend to put very few of their limited shots on target, likely due to taking so few shots from dangerous areas. All told, this should be an excellent opportunity for Petr Cech to keep his record breaking 209th clean sheet if we avoid making silly fouls and defend set pieces well.
Defensively speaking, Hull have looked better than they have in attack. They don't allow a ton of shots per game despite having very little of the ball, aren't overly susceptible on the counter despite being turnover prone, and are generally very aggressive in attempting to win back the ball when teams enter the final third. This does lead to a lot of fouls given away in fairly dangerous areas, and Hull have been pretty poor in defending the resulting set pieces.
Opponent: Hull City Tigers (or whatever they're calling themselves this week)
Venue/Location: KC Stadium, Hull, England
Date/Time: Saturday, January 11, 2014 at 12:45 GMT (7:45 am EST, 4:45 am PST, 18:15 IST)
Forecast: Cold but above freezing, sunny skies, and a 20% chance of rain. Not the worst...
Chelsea FC Squad News: Marco van Ginkel, Frank Lampard, and Branislav Ivanovic are all out with various injuries. Kevin De Bruyne may or may not still be on the Chelsea books at game time tomorrow, but he'll almost certainly not be used even if he is. Other than that, it appears to be all hands on deck.
Hull Squad News: Hull have a few injuries to deal with, as all of Paul McShane, Sone Aluko, and Robbie Brady will miss through injury. Steve Bruce's side have also been dealing with a major flu bug that has limited quite a few players in training this week, so there may be a surprise omission or two tomorrow.
Television/Streaming: In the US, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra have you covered. In the UK, BT Sport 1 has the game. Indian fans can watch on Star Sports 4 or Star Sports 2 HD, and everyone else can check their local listings here. Chelsea TV will have live audio along with pre and post-match coverage.
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