Thursday 21 May 2009 8:00 pm

Tigers are no match for United’s champion cubs

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JFK, Roswell, Princess Diana. Could Hull City v Man United become the next conspiracy theory on Sunday? Sir Alex Ferguson seems certain to field a ‘weakened’ side and any of Middlesbrough, Newcastle or Sunderland could be relegated if the champions are beaten by Hull.

The only problem for the Tigers is that whatever team United put out, it will probably still be stronger than their own first XI, whilst those pushing for a spot on the Reds’ subs bench in Rome will be playing for their lives. Of course this game isn’t a priority for Sir Alex, but he never likes losing and I’d be very surprised if his inexperienced side isn’t up for this.

Before we even think about an unlikely, emotional win for Hull, we must consider the facts – and they are fairly damning. The Tigers have lost all three at the KC Stadium against the Big Four this season, all by at least two goals, and have gone W0-D3-L7 in their last 10 home league games. Man United have been involved in a number of these types of fixtures before and have usually come out on top. Since the Premier League began, they have played 10 away games on the final day, winning eight and losing just one. Perhaps more importantly though, they had nothing to play for in seven of those and won six of them.

If those facts don’t get your juices flowing, then perhaps this will. United have won 15 of their last 17 away matches at bottom-six sides and are W8-D1-L1 in their last 10 league games on the road.

It’s fair to say that Hull haven’t been on fire since the turn of the year and they have conceded exactly three goals at home against all other members of the Big Four. In fact, total goals in all seven of their games against the Big Four this season average 3.6 per game and that’s including their goalless draw at Stamford Bridge in February.

United have so much strength in depth that I think the home fans will spend most of this game listening to their radios and praying than watching the action.


SUNDAY is judgment day for Alan Shearer. Newcastle are as short as 4/9 to be playing Championship football next season and they know that a win at Villa Park may not even save them.

Villa’s long season has started to catch up with them in recent weeks and one win from 12 games certainly isn’t the form you’d expect of a side capable of finishing fifth. However, there is one clear stat that points to Martin O’Neill’s side ending the season on a high and the Toon ending theirs in abject misery. Since 2002, the Magpies have made 41 trips to top-six finishers and tasted defeat 31 times. They have also only managed two victories, the last of which was 12 matches and 29 months ago.

Villa have had a tremendous season, regardless of the last few weeks, and under O’Neill they have won 13 and lost only twice in 17 games against bottom-six finishers and those currently in the bottom-six. It’s also worth remembering that Villa hosted Sheffield United, who could have stayed up with a win, in the final game of the 2006/07 season and beat them 3-0. Similarly, last season they hosted 18th-placed bitter local rivals Birmingham City in their penultimate home game and crushed them 5-1. Spread bettors should look to buy total goals with Sporting Index – there have been 16 scored in the last four meetings between these two at Villa Park.


NIALL Quinn will be hugely disappointed that his club is in this position having spent so much money. Their performances have been poor in recent weeks and if Newcastle or Middlesbrough had been any better these would be even more desperate times.

Put simply, Sunderland are terrible at home against the top sides – never mind a Chelsea side bidding farewell to Guus Hiddink. They have played top-six finishers on 11 occasions at the Stadium of Light since 2007/08 and have only managed to pick up two points. The Blues are unbeaten in 35 games at bottom-six finishers since Roman Abramovich took over the club (W32-D3-L0) and won 22 of those matches to nil, including all five against other members of the bottom-six this season.