There have been some conspiracy theorists who believe that the FA Cup draw was somewhat fixed, with this being one of several ties with plenty of meaning. Steve Bruce is this time the subject of the clash, with the Hull boss preparing to host the side he managed several years ago.
For the time being, Bruce is experiencing more success at the KC Stadium than he did at the Stadium of Light. The Tigers currently find themselves in 13th spot and with five points separating them from the drop zone, they are well on their way to survival. Unsurprisingly, their form is absolutely blighted by inconsistencies and after thrashing Cardiff 4-0 at the end of February, they followed that up with a 4-1 defeat to Newcastle in their most recent encounter. All of this means that they have won two and lost two of their last four and with their fifth round FA Cup tie going to a replay, this is a side who simply don’t know what they are going to do next.
Sunderland meanwhile have seen their league campaign take a huge hit over recent weeks, with this mainly due to their progression in domestic cups. The Black Cats were narrowly defeated in the League Cup final last week and this again added to their league fixture backlog, with the Black Cats playing as many as three games less than many of their relegation rivals. Bearing this in mind, fans will be relieved to see that they sit just one point adrift of safety – meaning that their campaign is certainly saveable. However, for now the priority will be on the FA Cup and having lost three of their last four games, this could be the perfect opportunity to restore some confidence. On the subject of their recent form, we should also point out that one of those losses came against Hull after Poyet’s side lost 2-0 at home to the Tigers at the start of February.
As for team news, Hull are tipped to make changes following their recent heavy defeat. However, two of these are enforced as both Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long both sit out the clash due to ineligibility. Sunderland are in a much stronger position and the Black Cats don’t have any concerns ahead of the game. In fact, Gus Poyet will be welcoming back players into the reckoning, with Liam Bridcutt being one of these after he was cup-tied for the League Cup final.
In terms of a prediction, we think Sunderland will return to their best in this clash and put that League Cup final defeat behind them. They gave a good account of themselves at Wembley and with Hull being such an inconsistent outfit, and missing their first choice strikers, our tip will be a 2-1 win for the Black Cats.