Norwich City v Hull City: It's now or never for Tigers and ex-Canaries striker Chris Martin
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With Hull City as desperate for points as Norwich City, Mark Armstrong looks at five things to watch out for ahead of the Tigers' visit
Who needs the points more?
So we all know how important the three points are to Norwich City this evening in their pursuit of an automatic promotion place.
But they are arguably even more valuable to the visiting Tigers this evening.
Nigel Adkins’ side can’t afford to fall further behind in the race for the top six as their 3-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest on Saturday saw them fall five points adrift of the promotion places.
A draw at the league leaders would be considered a decent result in normal circumstances but a victory could give the visitors the impetus they need for the run-in to make the top six.
This could clearly play into Norwich’s hands. Daniel Farke would much prefer any visiting side to show ambition and make a game of it. It’s when his side are at their best and, if Hull decide to go toe-to-toe, City will fancy their chances.
Not so super Chrissy Martin
It’s fair to say Hull City might have expected more from City old boy Chris Martin when they signed him on loan from Derby County last summer. One goal in 25 appearances is not the kind of return which means the Hull hierarchy are going to be busting down the door to make his signing permanent at the end of the season. By all accounts it is not only the goals that have dried up, so have the chances – that’s when it really is time to worry as a striker. Manager Nigel Adkins has continually insisted he is happy with the striker’s output but the fact he was hauled off early in the second half at Forest may suggest his patience has finally snapped. Former Manchester United youngster Fraizer Campbell is pushing for a start and Martin knows if he doesn’t hit the scoring trail again soon then the bench will be calling.
Jarrod Bowen’s 19 goals this season has certainly got a few Premier League scouts chattering.
That’s three better last season’s tally proving the 22-year-old is no one-season wonder. Now somewhere in deepest tunnels of Colney there will be a list of potential targets if City go up and Stuart Webber’s team of scouts wouldn’t be doing their job correctly if Bowen’s name wasn’t on that list.
Bowen has made no secret of the fact he wants to play Premier League football in the future and if it’s not at Hull then naturally he’s shown enough promise for there to be alternatives.
Whether City are that alternative remains to be seen but Bowen will be aware another big performance will do his career prospects no harm this evening.
Jarrod Bowen is not the only threat from the wing for the visitors. Polish wide boy Kamil Grosicki is also capable of causing problems to the opposition.
It’s something City head coach Daniel Farke made reference to in his pre-match press conference, labelling the Tigers one of the “best transition teams in the Championship”.
Their threat on the counter attack needs to be contained and their respective battles against Jamal Lewis and Max Aarons could go a long way to defining this evening’s contest.
If City’s young full-backs can get in the ascendancy then the main threat in Hull’s armoury could be nullified.
What the Hull?
Hull have conceded 13 goals in their last four away games and on paper at least look pretty ideal opponents for City to be entertaining in their quest for the Premier League. Teemu Pukki may just fancy pushing his claims for the Championship golden boot a little further this evening against a defence that shipped three at Forest and five at Brentford recently.
Adkins’ side have been poor on the road of late but you don’t have to look too far back this season when this wasn’t the case. They enjoyed an excellent Christmas, beating both Preston and Leeds away from home, showing they are capable of competing with the best on foreign turf.
City fans will just be hoping they can wait a couple of weeks before they end their barren spell away from home – surely their patience can stretch to their journey to Portman Road at the end of the month?