Writer: Gavin Cooper
Date:Thursday December 25 2008
City of Manchester Stadium
26th December 2008
Mark Hughes and his City team go up in front of nearly forty five thousand City fans knowing that anything other than a determined display will leave a very sour taste in many City fans eyes.
Mark Hughes talks about City's struggles at present: 'At the moment we`re finding it a struggle to get the performances and results that we need. It`s not going to happen overnight, we keep saying that, but we`ve got to keep on making sure that we`re doing the right things on a daily basis. In the end with a little bit more quality added to squad then things will turn for the better.'
He then talks about the festive fixture campaign: "My plan for this Christmas Day, like everyone I have known in the game, is to come in to work and prepare for the game against Hull on Boxing Day. That`s no change, that`s the same as it has been for all the years I have been in this business, it`s something we get used to.
"This period is so intense with so many games, but it is something football people get used to and get on with it."
"Obviously results will impact on the confidence of the team, we`ve been disappointed of late because the way we have lost points at the end of games, which has been hard to take. We`re hurting, but we have games coming up where we think we can get back on track.
"It`s not what we anticipated, but it`s the make-up of the Premier League this year. Looking at how close teams are in the middle and near the bottom of the table, a couple of back-to-back wins can get you into the top half. Teams like Sunderland have done that of late, and I think that will continue.
"We need to get back to winning ways, when we do then our confidence will improve and we will kick on into the second half of the season."
Goals have been in short supply for the Blues in recent weeks, with just two in their last four matches, three of which have ended in defeat.
Concerns continue to surround the fitness of record signing Robinho, who has been hampered by an ankle injury in recent weeks, which he aggravated in the Uefa Cup defeat to Racing Santander and subsequently missed the Hawthorns setback.
The gifted Brazilian is back in training but is still not 100 per cent fit and will be monitored before Hughes makes a late decision on his inclusion, with concerns over three other strikers.
Benjani Mwaruwari is certain to miss out after suffering a thigh injury against the Baggies, which will keep him out for at least two weeks and possibly a longer period if it is a reoccurrence of the tear which kept him out earlier in the campaign.
Ched Evans and Darius Vassell are waiting on the results of scans on their respective foot and toe injuries, while Jo (virus) and Daniel Sturridge (Achilles) are expected to be available.
Elano's place in the squad and future at Eastlands is in doubt with Hughes leaving the Brazilian out at the Hawthorns due to a lack of form.
His drive and energy will be a must if City are to get anything from Phil Brown's hard working Hull City.
Visiting boss Brown will be forced to make at least one change with Sam Ricketts serving a one-match suspension following his late dismissal in the 4-1 home defeat by Sunderland last time out.
Nathan Doyle is on stand-by to replace Ricketts at left-back with Andy Dawson still being monitored after his Achilles injury, while Anthony Gardner (thigh) and Craig Fagan (broken leg) are closing in on comebacks.
Paul McShane is available again after being ineligible for the Sunderland game under the terms of his loan move from the Black Cats.
The big powerful forward can be a real handful for any defender to deal with.
Hull City have only ever won once at City; and never in the league. That victory came in February 1930 when they won two one in a fifth round FA cup tie.
This will be the first premiership meeting between the two teams in Manchester. City hold over sixty per cent win advantage over Hull in league games played in Manchester.
Andre Marriner - this will be his first City match of the season; but Hull's third where they won one and lost the other.
Hull will cause City a few problems but I think that on home soil City will have that bit too much for Hull to deal with. MCFC 2 - 0 HUFC.
Blackurn Rovers away at Ewood Park on Sunday 28th December with a 4:15pm kick off on Sky tv.
Date:Thursday December 25 2008
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