Preview: Hull City

After the postponement of a further two home games last week, Coventry City have some catching up to do as they return to regular action. It may feel sensationalist to point out that the Sky Blues are bottom of the table and winless after just two games played, but it wouldn’t half help calm the mood around the club if that first win could be achieved and the team quickly moved away from the wrong end of the table.

A trip to a Hull City side that have undergone an intriguing transformation over the summer and currently sit sixth in the division will be a challenging test for a Coventry City side still looking to build fitness at this stage of the season. Anything other than a strong, committed performance from the Sky Blues could see them handed a swift reminder of how uncompromising the Championship is.

Expected Line-Up

Possible Line-Up (3-4-1-2): Moore; Hyam, McFadzean, Panzo; Dabo, Eccles, Sheaf, Bidwell; Allen; Godden, Gyokeres.
Possible Line-Up

The headline team selection news for this game is the absence of Gustavo Hamer through suspension. With Callum O’Hare and Liam Kelly long-term absentees in midfield, it leaves Mark Robins with precious few options to call upon to replace the influential Hamer, highlighting the delicate position the team currently appears to be in.

With Jamie Allen likely to continue as O’Hare’s replacement in an attacking role, that leaves Josh Eccles as just about the only option to replace Hamer. Eccles has struggled in the opening weeks of the season and it will be a tall order for him to replace the presence that Hamer provides in the centre of the park. The youngster really could do with a big performance here to prove he has the credentials to be a viable member of a Championship squad.

Elsewhere, there is a clear sense of which players are first-choice at this moment in time. While another high-profile error from Simon Moore in goal in the last game may put his place under pressure, Ben Wilson’s recent shambolic display in the League Cup settles that debate for the time being. Left wing-back is probably the only other area of contention, but some strong recent showings from Jake Bidwell looks to have made him first-choice right now.

Last Time We Met

A Covid and injury-hit Coventry City side took on Hull City at the CBS Arena back in March looking to build on a 4-1 victory over Sheffield United that had reignited their play-off hopes. The Tigers had little to play for against a Luke Tisdale-managed Sky Blues outfit, but got off to a quick start by punishing some hesitant defensive play to take the lead within five minutes.

Coventry City looked to have gained control of proceedings after that early blow, but were two down at the break after Hull City’s Ryan Longman hit a sensational strike from outside the area after a corner was half-cleared. The Sky Blues laboured in vain to mount a comeback but only came close when Ian Maatsen’s effort on goal was kept from crossing the line by mere millimetres.

The Opposition

Manager – Shota Arveladze

The Georgian was installed as Hull City manager back in January following a takeover of the club by the Turkish medial mogul, Acun Ilicali. After doing just about enough to keep the team in the division over the second half of last season, Arveladze has seen a number of intriguing overseas addition added to his arsenal at the MKM Stadium as part of a push for Premier League football under the club’s new ownership.

Just how much Arveladze adds to the mix over the quality that his been provided to him in the transfer market is hard to tell. The manager has tended to adopt a counter-attacking approach, which can see his side invite pressure on themselves but has also been a good way to make use of the pace his team has in attacking areas. After a good start to the season, Arveladze is starting to win over his doubters.

Who To Look Out For?

Possible Line-Up (4-2-3-1): Ingram; Coyle, Greaves, Figueiredo Elder; Woods, Jones; Longman, Slater, Tetteh; Estupinan
Possible Line-Up

Hull City have made some relatively exciting signings over the summer, with former Barcelona target, Jean-Michael Seri, and Turkish superstar, Ozan Tufan, the biggest names that have been added to the mix. Based on the start to the season, it is the addition of the big Colombian striker, Oscar Estupinan, that could fire Hull City to the next level.

Excellent in the air and with fantastic finishing ability with his left foot, Estupinan is the kind of forward who can not only bully an opposing defence but also punish them by taking the chances he carves out for himself. Forming a good relationship early on with the even bigger wide-forward, Benjamin Tetteh, Hull City have a lot of power in attacking areas that could be difficult to contain.

Further back, the absences of the aforementioned Seri and Tufan in midfield give Hull City more of a workmanlike appearance. However, Ryan Woods is potentially quite a smart addition in the middle of the pitch to provide Championship experience to support the foreign flair the club has added, while also being of the quality to completely run a game at this level when on form.

In defence, academy youngster, Jacob Greaves, is among the better centre-backs at this level whose recent signing of an extended contract is a boon to this new era at Hull City – especially in light of the high-profile sale this summer of homegrown star forward, Keane Lewis-Potter. With the experienced former Nottingham Forest man, Tobias Figueiredo, alongside Greaves and the physical, Alfie Jones, screening the defence from midfield, the Tigers can be a tough nut to crack defensively. Meanwhile, Lewie Coyle and Callum Elder are energetic full-backs who can support the attack ably.

Where The Game Will Be Won or Lost

There are two big concerns from a Coventry City perspective heading into this game. The first is how the team contends with being effectively three games less fit than a team that has started the season strongly. The second is how the loss in midfield of Gustavo Hamer adds to the challenge of competing with a good Hull City side.

Coventry City are going to have a task on their hands in containing that pairing of Oscar Estupinan as Hull City’s centre-forward and the big Benjamin Tetteh playing out wide to support him. The first step will be in trying to limit the service into them, which may be difficult because the Sky Blues have a habit of their wing-backs dropping in alongside the back three and giving the five players ahead of them a lot of ground to cover in closing down the opposition in midfield and wide areas. If that fails, Dominic Hyam and Fankaty Dabo will have to compete strongly against the giant Tetteh, while Kyle McFadzean and Jonathan Panzo will have to be smart in their positioning to provide cover while also paying attention to Estupinan.

Hull City will present Coventry City with a decent amount of time on the ball as they look to spring on the counter-attack. Ben Sheaf and Josh Eccles will have an important role to play in providing the quality on the ball to make the most of the time they may be afforded with it, while it would be helpful if the wing-backs got up in support quickly to prevent the Sky Blues becoming too slow in possession and easy to pick off.

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