After the international break we return to Premier League action with Hull vs Spurs at the KC Stadium.
It’s “my job and my responsibility to find the solution” uttered a concerned Mauricio Pochettino after our dour and lifeless performance against Stoke.
Our new head coach has had two weeks to search for solutions. A trip to Humberside will give him the perfect chance to put some of the answers he has found in to practice.
But what can we expect from Steve Bruce’s team and what should we be on the lookout for in Hull vs Spurs this time?
Hull direct play
Dawson has been a key miss at the back, Jelavic up front. The Croatian international has been instrumental for Hull to win knockdowns and aerial battles.
We were witness to Jelavic’s strength and ability to win these on our trip to the KC Stadium last season. The game finished Hull 1 Spurs 1 and his flick-on allowed Shane Long to run in-behind and open the scoring.
Since Jelavic has been out injured, Hull doesn’t have a suitably apt target man. Abel Hernandez has done his best to fill in. He has height, but not the same strength and has struggled, as we can see from their last Premier League match with Burnley.
Nikica Jelavic has returned to training and may play a part. Michael Dawson should be fit to return and is equally important to shoring up a defence that can be got at in two ways.
Where Hull concede
Hull’s defenders have allowed chances in two ways this season; through the channels between the central defenders and from in-behind the full backs.
The inside channels between the centre backs were a problem when Steve Bruce was using a back four and so he switched to a three centre back system to counter this. It has worked, but it’s success has varied with the personnel.
The more important zone has been to get behind their wingbacks. Bruce uses these players to get forward and cross the ball. Ahmed Elmohamady leads the team with a whopping 65 balls in to the box so far this season, the sixth most of any player in the Premier League.
The problem Hull have had is that with the wingbacks going forward, they leave spaces behind.
This saw them concede from a cross against Burnley last weekend as Kieran Trippier found Ashley Barnes to head home.
With three centre backs you really shouldn’t be conceding from headers in amongst them. However, this is where Hull’s personnel have affected their defence. Injury to Michael Dawson and has meant that Paul McShane has come in. Curtis Davies is solid on the left of the three and he has his zone well defended. But, as you can see from above, if you can miss him out, you can get in-amongst Chester and McShane.
This has meant that Hull are susceptible from getting in-behind their full backs to cross, but also the zone around the right and middle centre backs.
This is where Ashley Barnes scored his header from for Burnley. Southampton also created chances through these channels from passes in central areas to take advantage of McShane’s and Chester’s positional problems.
What’s more, Southampton also got in-behind in the Hull left back zone, which continues to be a problem for them as Burnley’s goal also was from here.
Michael Dawson’s return could be key to shoring-up the avenue between the right and central defenders in the back three. But also watch out for Steve Bruce returning to just two centre backs, as he trusts the Dawson and Davies pairing. The channels between Davies and Dawson are still there though, as Manchester City showed in the pair’s last outing together.
Press for success
With Hull’s long balls often coming from the back, especially the keeper, teams that have had success press up as they struggle to retain possession without Jelavic.
Southampton did an excellent job of this in their recent 1-0 win over Hull. They tackled and intercepted the ball, often in the opposition half, in order to control the game.
Southampton’s press saw them not only win the ball back through tackles and interceptions, but also to force turnovers from downfield clearances.
Their opener was a great piece of opportunism from Victor Wanyama, but came after the excellent pressing of Graziano Pelle forced a miscued kick.
The Tottenham tactics for Hull vs Spurs should look to see us follow suit and press the Tigers to hem them in. Manchester City, the last side before Southampton to win at the KC stadium, also did this, whereas reactive teams haven’t faired so well.
Hull can move the ball quickly forward as they will often go long from the keeper and use the range of passing of Tom Huddlestone.
With wingbacks in place, they are set up to provide crosses. Ahmed Elmohamady is a very underrated deliverer of the ball from the right. Over on the left, Steve Bruce has Robbie Brady or the very attack minded Andrew Robertson, who showed what he could do against England midweek, to choose from.
Without Nikica Jelavic, Hull’s threat from crossing has been reduced and they have failed to score in their last three Premier League matches. However, Abel Hernandez is still a danger from them, as Arsenal and West Ham have found out, as too is Mohammed Diame
The Tottenham tactics for Hull vs Spurs will need to see us defend against Hull’s crossing threat. This is especially true from Elmohamady, which will make Danny Rose’s job in the defensive phase key.
Hull vs Spurs outlook
Hull have suffered a dip in form, but are still dangerous at home with a very vocal support.
Applying pressure to force long clearances downfield and turnovers is imperative to gaining control of the pace and flow of the game.
The match will be won in the wide areas. If we can get beyond their wingbacks we will create chances. Equally if theirs pushes us back, then we will have to defend the resulting crosses well.
Hull vs Spurs prediction: Hull 1 Spurs 2.