Hull City v Ipswich Town Preview: two flat-track bullies?

Celina in form –

Hull City have put in enough dominant displays against the teams below them to suggest that they’ll be safe this season, but they are a long way off being fit for the top flight, where the club has resided in three of it’s previous four seasons.

The main supposed plus point of Hull City’s summer was Leonid Slutsky’s connections with Roman Abramovich, but the three Chelsea loanees – Michael Hector, Ola Aina and Fiyako Tomori – all look shaky defensively. The latter two showed rash, tactical naivety at Bramall Lane, where they were torn apart by Sheffield United.

It hasn’t helped that centre-back Michael Dawson and holding midfielder David Meyler, who were key to promotion two years ago, aren’t quite performing at the level they were.

There may be opportunities then for Ipswich, who have been ruthless in the final third. Martyn Waghorn has scored eight league goals, with 31% of his shots and 57% of his shots on target finding the net.

The ex-Rangers forward’s form epitomizes the Tractor Boys. They are the joint-third top scorers in the Championship with 26 goals, despite having taken just 161 shots: the third fewest.

Their punchy attack benefits from the performances of Bersant Celina. The Manchester City loanee had to win over Mick McCarthy, who often favours a rigid 4-4-2 formation that doesn’t incorporate attacking midfielders that float between the lines. However, the Yorkshireman has recently switched to a 4-2-3-1 and Celina has vindicated his decision, scoring three in his last three appearances including a wonderful solo goal in the 3-0 against Preston last time out.

One of the two teams to score more goals than the men from Suffolk is Wolverhampton Wanderers, the other is Hull City. The East Yorkshire side have been helped by the form of energetic 20-year-old Jarrod Bowen, who has scored eight goals in 16 games thanks to his clever runs in from the right. Kamil Grosicki, who has been a vital player for Poland over the last two years, has also provided a source of creativity and goals from the other flank.

The team’s goalscoring return though is slightly skewed: while the Tigers deserve credit for amassing 15 goals in four games against teams below them, they have only netted 13 in 12 games against teams 19th upwards.

Equally, Ipswich have only scored two in three against teams above them but have scored 24 in 12 against those below. A continuation of both trends would mean victory for the East Anglian visitors.

The Football Lab’s Verdict: 1-2