Newly-promoted Hull meet recently-relegated Sheffield United in the Championship curtain-raiser on Saturday and Mark O'Haire is backing the away side...
"The Tigers have fired six successive blanks (W0-D2-L4) whilst averaging just 0.57 xG per-game during their recent lean spell."
Hull v Sheffield United
Saturday September 18, 12:30
Hull match unwanted club record
Hull's slump in form continued on Tuesday night as the Tigers were beaten 2-0 at Blackburn. Grant McCann's men failed to score for the sixth successive match, equalling the club record that dates back to 1920. Josh Magennis did have the ball in the net at Ewood Park, although the offside flag added to the visitors' misery as they slide down the standings.
City were the better side in Lancashire until Rovers surged into life early in the second-half when the introduction of Reda Khadra sparked a devastating 10-minute spell which took the game away from Hull. Despite the result, McCann was largely pleased with his players, saying: "I thought we were excellent between both boxes, and then we conceded off a set-play, an individual mistake, which is disappointing for us."
The Tigers made two changes to their starting XI with skipper Richie Smallwood drafted back into the team and Tom Huddlestone rested. Matt Smith was restored to the side at the expense of George Moncur. Last season's Player of the Year, George Honeyman, is expected to make his return from injury for this weekend's match-up.
Sheffield United denied at the death
Sheffield United boss Slavisa Jokanovic insisted his Blades team took another important step forward in its development following Tuesday night's game against Preston, despite seeing the visitors claim a late 95th-minute equaliser at Bramall Lane.
United appeared on course to record their second Championship win in four days when substitute Sander Berge scored towards the end of the second period. Whilst Jokanovic conceded a lapse in concentration presented North End with the chance to level deep into added time, he believes the mental scars of last season's relegation are beginning to heal.
The Serb, whose side entered the contest on the back of a 6-2 victory over Peterborough, said the number of openings his players created against "physical" opponents highlighted their growing self-belief and confidence. And the Blades' squad is also starting to take shape with goalkeeper Robin Olsen making his debut between the sticks in midweek.
Blades fair favourites
Hull and Sheffield United have locked horns on only 10 occasions in league football since 1990 and the Blades have largely enjoyed the upper-hand in head-to-head showdowns. United did the double over the Tigers in 2018/19 and have claimed W7-D1-L2 in that 30-year sample, returning W3-D1-L1 when travelling away to Humberside.
Hull 2.8415/8 started the season with a thrilling 4-1 victory at Preston but have since found the going tougher on their return to the second-tier. The Tigers have fired six successive blanks (W0-D2-L4) whilst averaging just 0.57 xG per-game during their recent lean spell. Grant McCann's men were comfortably beaten in the xG stakes in all six of those fixtures.
Sheffield United 2.568/5 made a slow start to life back in the Championship (W0-D2-L3) yet performances in victory over Peterborough (6-2) and Preston (2-2) suggest the Blades are beginning to find their feet. However, Slavisa Jokanovic remains concerned about the side's defence having shipped two goals or more in four of their last five league outings.
With Hull failing to fire as an attacking force since the opening day, Both Teams To Score 'No' 1.855/6 backers have enjoyed a consistent stream of winners when following the Tigers. But Sheffield United's recent expressive displays have made for more goal-heavy games at both ends of the field, producing contrasting goal trends to their hosts.
With that in mind, I'm happy to swerve the major goal markets and instead support Sheff Utd in the Draw No Bet market at 1.804/5. The visitors were strong third favourites in the ante-post Championship market and appear to be heading in the right direction despite a below-par opening stanza under demanding head coach Slavisa Jokanovic.
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