Sunday, January 22, 2017

Prediction: Hull City vs Sheffield Wednesday

Verdict: Hull City to Qualify

Best Odds: 5/8

Bookmaker: bet365

It is up to Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday players to show nerves of steel as they are involved in the game that will see the winner secure around £170 million in revenue over the next couple of years. The Tigers may have finished regular season nine points clear of the opposition, but that will mean nothing when the two sides meet at Wembley on Saturday afternoon.

Hull City

Hull City gave themselves a great chance of returning to the Premier League by keeping hold of most key men from the season that saw them get relegated to the Championship, but the Tigers didn’t exactly play to their potential this term. Granted, they produced some memorable performances at times, but also had their share of disappointing results and the play-off semi-final clash against Derby County nicely summed up their season. Hull City impressed to record a 3-0 away win over the Rams in the first leg, only to concede two early goals in the return match and they narrowly avoided being on the receiving end of one of the biggest shocks in the competition history. On their day, the Tigers can run circles around Sheffield Wednesday and record a comfortable victory, but the reality is that Steve Bruce doesn’t know which Hull City will turn up for the Wembley game. However, seeing that his men are superior in terms of quality and top flight experience to the opposition, we believe the Tigers will ultimately secure their place in the Premier League.

Team News

First choice goalkeeper Allan McGregor has failed to recover from injury, meaning that Eldin Jakupovic will continue to deputise.

The good news is that there are no other selection worries for Steve Bruce, who is expected to field an unchanged starting line-up.

Sheffield Wednesday

The reality is that before the season started nobody expected Sheffield Wednesday to mount a serious promotion challenge, but they did well to climb into play-off positions in the second part of the league campaign and eventually secured the final play-off berth. The Owls surprised everyone with a convincing victory in the semi-final against Brighton and even though they conceded an early goal in the return leg, Carlos Carvalhal’s charges quickly levelled the score and secured their place in the final. While former Norwich City and Celtic striker Gary Hooper also had an important role to play, it was Watford loanee Fernando Forestieri that has been team’s best player this season, excelling in the trequartista role to score 15 goals in 38 league appearances. The Owls will be looking to the Italian playmaker to produce some magic in the Championship final as well, since they are clearly not good enough to match Hull City if the Tigers manage to play to their potential.

Team News

Irish winger Aiden McGeady was allowed to join the Republic of Ireland squad and he is out of contention for the Hull City game.

Coach Carlos Carvalhal has no injury worries, but he has yet to decide whether Kieran Lee or Sam Hutchinson will start in the middle of the park.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Sheffield make first Wembley appearance since 1993
  • Both meetings between Hull and Sheffield this term ended in draw
  • Under 1.5 goals were scored in six of their last eight meetings
  • Wednesday are unbeaten in last five play-off appearances
  • Hull won the Championship play-off final in 2008

Conclusion

Chances are that the team that succeed in coping with the pressure will be closer to winning the highly anticipated encounter, but we cannot go past Hull City, who have much more quality and experience in their ranks, so we are backing the Tigers to return to the biggest stage.

Verdict: Hull City to Qualify

Best Odds: 5/8

Bookmaker: bet365

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