PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: HULL CITY V CHELSEA - PART ONE
Our third and final away game in January takes us to Humberside for the first time in four years. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton set out on the highway to Hull…
A win in this early kick-off would place the Blues top of the table, if only for a few hours. As good as the festive season was for Chelsea, it is an indication of how tight this Barclays Premier League campaign could be that the Blues' return of three victories and a draw, with a goal difference of plus four, was the fourth best over that period.
Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham all performed marginally better, while even 'crisis club' Manchester United managed three wins and a net addition of three to their goal difference (one a very narrow win at Hull on Boxing Day). There can be no resting on any laurels this weekend, which sees the opening day fixtures reversed. Chelsea's next two league games are at home: to Man United and West Ham.
There's something about fours at the moment. At Derby in the FA Cup last weekend John Mikel Obi celebrated becoming only the fourth overseas player to make his 300th appearance at Chelsea by scoring his fourth goal for the club.
All his strikes have come during Jose Mourinho's two spells at Stamford Bridge. If the Special One can turn Mikel into a prolific goalscorer it could only be a matter of time before he resolves America's polar vortex crisis, if required.
Chelsea's Nigeria midfielder accidentally became skipper when Michael Essien left the action at the iPro Stadium - Mourinho confessed the vacant armband was supposed to go to seven-time FA Cup winner Ashley Cole.
Mikel was runner-up to CAF African Footballer of the Year 2013 Yaya Toure on Thursday. It is a title his teammate Samuel Eto'o has won a record four times, most recently 2010; Didier Drogba won it in 2006 and 2009.
The same day Europa League victors Chelsea were announced as the world's third best team of 2013 by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS). Top rated according to their data were Champions League winners Bayern Munich, followed by Real Madrid, the club Mourinho left in June 2013 to rejoin the Blues. After Chelsea the IFFHS's top five was completed by Spanish duo Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.
Talented midfielder Lewis Baker was handed a seven-minute debut in that FA Cup win. He is a player Jose has watched many times and likes the look of. The breakthrough is great for Chelsea's Academy and is another indication of the value of the under-fire competition.
Also last Sunday Mark Schwarzer achieved his fourth clean sheet in five appearances, producing a highly impressive 80 per cent rate. He has now recorded more shutouts than the likes of Steve Sherwood (three in 17 appearances), Mark Bosnich (two in seven), Bob Iles (one in 14), Tommy Hughes (one in 11), Ross Turnbull (one in 16), Perry Digweed (one in three) and David Webb (one in one) - the only Chelsea goalie with a 100 per cent blank record.
More importantly the 2-0 win was Chelsea's fourth clean sheet in the five games since the Capital One Cup defeat at Sunderland which prompted much debate and reappraisal.
Saturday lunchtime will be another test of the renewed resilience: Hull only lost to Man United by a James Chester own goal and surprisingly whacked six past our west London neighbours Fulham two days later on 28 December. The half-dozen goals came in the second half, a rare feat that Chelsea managed against Wigan when sealing the league title on 9 May 2010 (with two goals in the first half we won 8-0).
The Humberside club currently boast the sixth best home record in the league this season and no side has conceded fewer than their six goals. However the only serious scalp they have claimed there is that of Liverpool (pictured below); Man City, Arsenal, Everton and Tottenham visit the KC Stadium over the second half of the season. Their away record is the second worst in the top flight.
The transfer window opened last week but is only slightly ajar for Chelsea, as the manager has said. Hull City have denied rekindling their flirtation with Shane Long, the player they attempted to lure from West Brom in the summer.
Our host conurbation this weekend was named UK City of Culture for 2017 a few weeks ago. No doubt many southern-based readers will already be familiar with Kingston-upon-Hull's existing attractions, such as the river horse-wash at Victoria Pier, the world's smallest window at the George Hotel, and replicas (designed from photographs) of Tutankhamun's tomb goods that outraged Howard Carter.
Furthermore, The Land Of Green Ginger is not a barrel-scraping Tin Tin adventure, as the uninitiated might assume, but one of Hull's more exotically named streets.
So is that, like the old Housemartins album title, 'London 0 Hull 4'? Hardly - though the Ferens Art Gallery does have a few David Hockneys and Helen Chadwicks on its walls, and the Maritime and Wilberforce museums are excellent.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Hull v Chelsea 12.45pm - BT Sport
Cardiff v West Ham 3pm
Everton v Norwich 3pm
Fulham v Sunderland 3pm
Southampton v West Brom 3pm
Tottenham v Crystal Palace 3pm
Manchester United v Swansea 5.30pm - Sky Sports
Newcastle v Manchester City 2.05pm - Sky Sports
Stoke v Liverpool 4.10pm - Sky Sports
Aston Villa v Arsenal 8pm - Sky Sports
|Barclays Premier League top 10|
Chelsea have gained 14 points from losing positions this season, the best record in the Barclays Premier League.
We have the second tightest defence (with Everton) with 19 goals conceded in 20 games. Only Arsenal with 18 have let in fewer.
Chelsea have kept four clean sheets and conceded just one goal in our last five league and cup matches.
The Blues are three points up compared to the corresponding 20 fixtures last season.
We have won 15 points from a possible 30 away from Stamford Bridge this term.
Chelsea have lost just three in the last 76 games against newly-promoted teams in over 12 years. We have won 60 of those matches.
|Last six results|
|Dec 17||Sunderland (Capital One Cup a)||L 1-2 aet|
|Dec 23||Arsenal (a)||D 0-0|
|Dec 26||Swansea (h)||W 1-0|
|Dec 29||Liverpool (h)||W 2-1|
|Jan 1||Southampton (a)||W 3-0|
|Jan 5||Derby (FA Cup a)||W 2-0|
League games since
An away win: 0
An away draw: 1
An away defeat: 2
|Chelsea's next three games|
|Sun 19 Jan||Manchester United home||4.00pm|
|Sun 26 Jan||Stoke (FA Cup) home||3.30pm|
|Wed 29 Jan||West Ham home||7.45pm|
If selected, Gary Cahill will make his 50th Premier League appearance for the club.
Hull were formed in 1904 and never played in the top flight until 2008.
Last season they were runners-up in the Championship behind champions Cardiff City.
The Tigers have won 18 points from a possible 30 at the KC Stadium this term. They have five wins against Norwich, West Ham, Sunderland, Liverpool and Fulham, three draws with Cardiff, Aston Villa and Stoke and two defeats to Crystal Palace and Man Utd
Although Hull have conceded 25 Premier League goals this season, only six have come at home, three of which were from Man Utd in their last home game. No top-flight team has conceded fewer at home.
Hull have won two and lost five of their last 10 Premier League games.
The Tigers have failed to score in eight of their 20 league games this term.
They have lost eight of the nine matches their opponents opened the scoring.
Manager Steve Bruce
Days in charge: 564
|Hull's last 10 year league history|
On Friday 9 October 1998 Hull lost 2-1 at home to Cardiff and remained bottom of the fourth tier and 92nd in the Football League with seven points from 12 games.
|Last six results|
|Dec 14||Stoke (h)||D 0-0|
|Dec 21||West Brom (a)||D 1-1|
|Dec 26||Manchester United (h)||L 2-3|
|Dec 28||Fulham (h)||W 6-0|
|Jan 1||Liverpool (a)||L 0-2|
|Jan 4||Middlesbrough (FA Cup a)||W 2-0|
Premier League scorers (22)
Brady 3 (2 pens), Elmohamady 2, Koren 2, Livermore 2, Meyler 2, Sagbo 2, own goals 2, Aluko 1, Boyd 1, Chester 1, Davies 1, Fryatt 1, Graham 1, Huddlestone 1.
League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 2
A home defeat: 1
Completed January transfers
Ins Bertrand Traore (Bobo-Dioulasso)
Outs Bertrand Traore (Vitesse Arnhem, loan), Patrick Bamford (Derby, loan), Kenneth Omeruo (Middlesbrough, loan)
Outs Tom Cairney (Blackburn, undisclosed), Conor Townsend (Carlisle, loan), Cameron Stewart (Leeds, loan)
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Mark Clattenburg is refereeing his second Chelsea match in a month. He was the official for our 2-1 home win against Crystal Palace on 14 December.
There are no suspensions.
Visit again tomorrow for Part Two of the Briefing.
- Join Jason Cundy, Tommy Langley and Graham Stuart for on Chelsea TV for exclusive build-up and live commentary of the game.