With J Hutcherson -- Jozy Altidore's Hull City is in trouble. They're a club more than capable of pulling off the shock upset and in dire need of one. In between those surprise wins against Manchester City and Fulham, they lost five games. Since beating Fulham on Mach 27th, they've lost two more. That leaves them 19th in the 20-team Premier League, even on points with 18th-place Burnley and four points from safety.
Five games remain, and they're approaching the run-in without leading scorer Steve Hunt. Though some might see this as an opportunity for Altidore to make himself the difference, it's not that simple.Hull's difficulty in 2009-10 has been whether or not they can keep form over 90 minutes. When they can, they're a mid-tier team that can win a big game. When they can't, they're relegation fodder.
They play Birmingham City away, Aston Villa at home, Sunderland at home, Wigan away, and Liverpool at home. On their current form, it's hard to point to any of those games as easy wins.
Last Saturday's 4-1 loss to Burnley looms large for obvious reasons. A win against the team below them at the start of the game would've pulled Hull within a point and goal differential of Wigan in 17th-place and safety. Instead, they're up against it and likely needing another team to to them the courtesy of slipping.
Hull have a game in hand, 33 played to Burnley's 34 and 16th-place West Ham's 34. It's West Ham's game on April 24th at home to Wigan that should be circled on Hull's calendar. Assuming a West Ham win, that should setup Hull's May 1st game away to Wigan as the potential relegation decider.
Wigan gets Portsmouth this week, and that could move them seven points ahead of Hull in the short term. But they still have Arsenal at home and Chelsea away. If there's any chance for Hull, it's likely going to be at the expense of Wigan and Burnley. Three of those points are still very much in Hull's control.
Meanwhile, in Germany, the continuing saga of Hannover 96 trying to maintain their Bundesliga place and get to the off season to rework a club that should have all of our sympathy. We've covered Hannover's story in depth. Since then, they've gotten four points in their last two games, including a win over title contenders Schalke.
Hannover has four games left in the season, they play away to Bayern Munich, away to Bayer Leverkusen, home to Borussia Moenchengladbach, and away to VfL Bochum. Or, to put it in terms of current position in the Bundesliga table: 1st, 3rd, 11th, and 15th.
Why keep the faith when it's highly unlikely they keep up their run of form against the Bundesliga's best? Simple, that final game against Bochum. That should be a winner doesn't get relegated scenario, and I think Hannover has the advantage. Sure, Bochum has an easier three games leading up to the finale, but only because they play Cologne this week.
An on-form Hannover would have no relegation concerns, and it's a safe assumption that the rest of the Bundesliga is well aware of that. We're finally seeing the this club for who they really are, and it's not a squad that should be fighting off relegation. It's one that can compete with any team in Germany.
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