Back a Hull City return to the Premier League with a win
After finishing fourth in the Championship table and only six points off an automatic promotion place, Hull City will be kicking themselves knowing that a place in the Premier League could, and should have, been sealed by the end of the 46-game season. Steve Bruce’s men beat Derby County 3-2 on aggregate to progress to the final at Wembley after surviving a late Derby comeback in the second leg.
Hull only won four of their last eight league games, and in that time they encountered damaging defeats to both bottom side Bolton and fellow promotion-chasing Derby. One thing that Steve Bruce’s side struggled with for the majority of the season was consistency, and Hull only managed to win more than two consecutive games on two occasions over the course of the campaign. They lost 11 league games, one more than Saturday’s opponents, and have only kept two clean sheets in their last ten games. They have, however, found the net 18 times in their last nine games, and I’m backing them to seal promotion into the Premiership with a win in normal time on Saturday.
Manager Carlos Carvalhal will be over the moon that his side managed to reach the play-off final after finishing 15 points behind Brighton and Hove Albion, the side they beat 3-1 on aggregate to secure their place at Wembley in two days’ time. However, the 2-0 home win over Brighton was one of only two wins in their last eight games, and their recent form has been far from spectacular.
Four straight wins between late March and early April game Wednesday enough momentum to seal a top-six finish, and with seven clean sheets in their last 11 games, Wednesday will know they are more than capable of putting up a fight for Steve Bruce’s men this weekend. They haven’t featured in the Premier League since the club was relegated from England’s top division at the end of the 1999/2000 season, and I think they’ll have to wait at least another year to end that run. I’m backing Hull City to win the tie.
Sheffield Wednesday are unbeaten in the last four meetings between the two sides, drawing the last three, but they’ve only won three of the 14 encounters between the two since 2004. They’ve also managed to keep four clean sheets against Hull in the last eight meetings, however Hull City were the more impressive of the two teams over the course of the season and I think Steve Bruce’s experience will lead the Tigers to victory on Saturday.
To score – Abel Hernandez 7/5
The 25-year-old Uruguayan striker has had a fantastic season for the Tigers, scoring 21 goals in 42 Championship appearances. He was the league’s third top scorer behind Burnley’s Andre Gray and Fulham’s Ross McCormack, and has also scored in two of his last three appearances, including a goal in the 3-0 first-leg win over Derby County a fortnight ago. I would recommend backing Hernandez to find the net at any time with odds of 7/5.
Both teams to score in 90 minutes – No 3/4
Both teams have scored in only one of the previous eight meetings between the two clubs. Wednesday have conceded in six of their last nine games, whereas Hull have found the net in seven of their last nine. I’m backing Hull City to win the tie on Saturday afternoon, priced at 3/4.
Match odds – Hull City 13/10
Both teams will be desperate to win the tie, especially with the amount of money on the line for the side that makes it to England’s top football division. Hull finished nine points clear of Wednesday in the Championship table, and stood a real chance of automatic promotion before a couple of poor results let them down towards the end of the season. I think Hull City under Steve Bruce will have the experience and desire to win the game in 90 minutes, and I recommend backing odds of 13/10 for them to do so. A Sheffield Wednesday win in normal time is priced at 13/5, with the draw, and therefore the need for extra time and maybe penalties, currently standing at 9/4.
Writer’s prediction: Hull City 2 – 0 Sheffield Wednesday
*Odds correct at the time of publication, click here for all the latest odds on upcoming football matches.