Manchester City-Hull City Preview
Manchester City return to Premier League action for the first time in 21 days when they travel to Hull City Saturday for a match they must win to keep pace with leaders Chelsea.
After beating Sunderland 3-1 in the League Cup final at Wembley on Mar. 2, City were on course to capture four major trophies before elimination from the FA Cup and Champions League within the space of four days left them with only the Premier League title to play for the rest of the season.
Manuel Pellegrini's side suffered a shock 2-1 home defeat in the FA Cup by Championship side Wigan Athletic last Sunday before losing 2-1 away to Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday to go out of Europe 4-1 on aggregate.
City (18-3-5) are currently fourth in the Premier League - nine points behind Chelsea - but they do have three matches in hand due to their cup commitments. Yaya Toure scored the winner when the Citizens beat Stoke City 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Feb. 22 in their most recent league match.
Assistant manager Ruben Cousillas was encouraged with City's performance against Barcelona at the Nou Camp and vowed the side would now work hard to win the Premier League title.
"We've been at the club only for eight months so our project is only in its early stages," he told the club's official website. "We've won our first title already. Until last weekend we were the only team playing in all four competitions - something which is very hard to accomplish because of the amount of games you have to play.
"We work for a big club, a club which gives us the best tools to work. We know the responsibility we have and we know how important it is to win the Premier League. We showed that we are alive and we're going to fight for the Premier League and, like I said, our project is long term."
Hull (8-6-14) have won only one of their last seven home league and need points to avoid being embroiled in a late-season relegation dogfight. The Tigers are 13th in the table but only five points above the drop zone.
However, morale in the Hull squad is high after reaching the FA Cup semifinals for only the second time in the club's 110-year history following a 3-0 romp past Sunderland at the KC Stadium last weekend.
Republic of Ireland midfielder David Meyler, who scored against the Black Cats, is determined to improve his own personal goals tally and also help the Tigers finish their league campaign on a positive note.
"It's just nice to score goals," Meyler told his club's official website. "My Dad's on my case that I don't score enough! I think that's my third of the season now, and I'm hoping I can get another couple before the end to finish on a high. That's what I'm aiming to do.
"We're obviously delighted to be in the semi-final of the FA Cup, but we've got an important home match against Manchester City to look to now."
Hull will have strikers Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long available after they were both cup-tied against Sunderland, while Paul McShane and Robbie Brady are sidelined through injury.
Man City have fitness doubts over Sergio Aguero, Matija Nastasic and Stevan Jovetic.
City beat Hull 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium in late August with goals from Alvaro Negredo and Toure.