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Manchester United
24th May, 2015 16:00 BST

On the back of a disappointing draw against Arsenal at Old Trafford, which saw Manchester United virtually succumb their hopes of a third place finish, Louis Van Gaala s men play away at Steve Brucea s Hull City, for Uniteda s final game of the season. With Arsenal picking up another draw in the mid-week fixture against Sunderland, the Gunners have managed 72 points off their 37 games, to own a comfortable three point lead over United, which boasts a massive goal difference of seven. And with only one match left to play in the league, unless United manage a massive Hull City drubbing and Arsenal find a way to lose against West Bromwich Albion, ArsA?ne Wengera s men have all but cemented themselves a Champions League spot next year. Whereas United will finish in fourth, with the play-offs in the first week of August hanging over their heads like a guillotine, when a win alone would suffice if they are to grab a place among the European elite, next season.

Thus for United, the Hull game, which could all be but a frugal affair, Van Gaal would still want his men to finish off on a high note. Whereas for the Tigers, currently occupying the final relegation spot, have everything to play for, only a win over United and a result that would hopefully go their way (against Newcastle), would guarantee them top-flight football next year.

Team News and Predicted Lineup

Hull City

After the FA Cup final appearance and a 16th-place league finish last year, then a summer which saw club owner Assem Allam spend in excess of A?40 million, Steve Bruce and his men certainly wouldna t have expected to be battling relegation this time around. But with a dismal run of just two wins in their last 10 matches and the drug suspension for midfielder Jake Livermore, things only seem to go south for the Tigers. Also with Robert Snodgrass (knee), Mohamed Diam (knee) and GastA?n Ram rez (hamstring) still out with injury, Bruce will probably name the same eleven that lost 2-0 to Tottenham last week.

A team that loves the use of width, playing the 3-5-2 system, utilizing two very able wingers in Ahmed Elmohamady and ex-United Robbie Brady, defensively astute at the back and excellent aerially, with the likes of Michael Dawson, James Chester and Paul McShane, also extremely dangerous in set-pieces, Hull City are a team that can seriously hurt United. Van Gaala s men have looked vulnerable all season, playing against teams that sit deep and break quick, even losing to Albion at Trafford recently. So if the Tigers could nullify Marouane Fellaini, employing Tom Huddlestone with the task, and if they manage to score in a set-piece or a quick break, Steve Brucea s men certainly have the ability to keep the lead intact and come up with an upset result.

“It’s been a long, difficult season for us. I hope, a bit like when we got a result against Cardiff to get in the Premier League – it reminds me a lot of that – hopefully our moment is about to come. It’s going to be a tall order but we know we’ve got a chance,” said Bruce, the former United legend, in the pre-match press conference. The Tigers wona t have to look too far back for that requisite amount of inspiration, as it was only three matches earlier when they beat a similarly set-up Liverpool 1-0, at home. And now for this one last game, if the home crowd could get behind their team and instill them with enough confidence, and with a bit of luck which they so desperately deserve, the former United man could very well get his first managerial win over his old team, and more importantly create history, with a consecutive third year of Premier League football for the Tigers.

Probable XI (3-5-2): Harper, McShane, Dawson, Chester, Brady, Quinn, Huddlestone, Meyler, Elmohamady, Jelavic, Na Doye.

Manchester United

“I have to put my strongest team because we have to give everything for all the other Premier League clubs, and especially of course Newcastle United. We have taken six points off Newcastle United and we have to take six points off Hull City, I think. I have said to the players in spite of him [Steve Bruce] being a Manchester United guy, we have to do what everybody is expecting from us.” Louis Van Gaal said in yesterdaya s pre-match conference. It is very clear that United will be playing their strongest eleven, with hopes of adding one more to their meager away-win tally this season.

United have been given a boost with the captain Wayne Rooney deemed fit for selection, but David De Gea is still a doubt, with a chance of him featuring only if the Spanish goalkeeper passes the late fitness test. Van Gaal clearly conveyed his feelings regarding the want-away Spaniard, stating that he badly wanted De Gea to play Uniteda s last game of the season and went on to say that he still believes, De Gea will stay.

With Michael Carrick and Luke Shaw still out injured, Van Gaal will play the same back four that played the Gunners, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones as centre-backs, between Antonio Valencia and Marcos Rojo on either side. Daley Blind will again cover for Carrick in holding midfield, to be joined by Fellaini and Ander Herrera, the latter who has been in terrific form, scoring his eighth goal of the season, last match.

Ashley Young essentially picks himself on the left flank, considering the incredible season hea s had. But on the right, therea s a slight chance that Angel Di Maria could replace Juan Mata. Hull City being the side that desperately require a win, Brucea s men cana t just lay deep and hope for a breakthrough, they will have to go for it and if that should happen, pace is required on Uniteda s end if they are to carve up Hulla s three-man defense. And at the top, the captain who has an exceptional scoring record against Hull, will replace Radamel Falcao.

Probable XI (4-1-4-1): De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Rojo, Di Maria, Herrera, Fellaini, Young, Rooney.

Match Facts

  • Hull have lost all seven previous Premier League encounters with Manchester United, conceding 21 goals in the process.
  • Wayne Rooney has scored seven and assisted three more in five Premier League games against Hull City.
  • Steve Bruce has never beaten Manchester United as a manager in 21 previous attempts in all competitions, drawing four games and losing 17 during spells in charge at Birmingham, Wigan Athletic, Sunderland and Hull. His current side led 2-0 when the teams last met at the KC Stadium on Boxing Day in 2013, only to lose 3-2.
  • Manchester United have drawn on the final day of the season for the last two campaigns (1-1 at Southampton in 2014, 5-5 at WBA in 2013).
  • Ander Herrera has scored six goals from seven shots on target in the Premier League this season.
  • Manchester United have gone eight Premier League games without a clean sheet for the first time since September 2001.
  • Hull have never won a Premier League game in the month of May (W0 D3 L9).

Players to watch out for

Ander Herrera

Manchester United v ArsenalThe Spaniard has been in terrific form this year, with two Player of the Month awards already in the bag, and scoring six goals and four assists in his first season at the club, Herrera has cemented his position in the team. The Spaniard was in sublime mood against Arsenal, clearly the best man on the pitch, running around possessed and throwing in tackles, when United lost the ball and that ethereal volley to find the back of the net.


Hull City1 Manchester United3

Yes, United have found it difficult to play against lower ranked teams and Van Gaala s away record this season has been dreadful at the least. But exactly for the reason that Hull City need a victory ever so badly, this wona t be another a Pulis 1-0a affair for United and Rooney and co. certainly have the firepower to pull out of this marginally credible season, with a win.

by Nikhil Sreekandan