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Head-To-Head: Hull City

Our experts assess this weekend's key battles.

Head-To-Head: Hull City
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Everton welcome Hull City to Goodison Park for the first time since 2010 this weekend, looking to replicate the rampant display that inspired a 5-1 rout of the Tigers that brisk March afternoon.

However, Steve Bruce's side have made a decent fist of their return to the top flight and travel to Merseyside just a point and a position below the seventh-placed Toffees.

Ahead of the clash, we asked Blues legend Graeme Sharp and Philip Buckingham, football writer for the Hull Daily Mail, to mull over the key battles which could determine Saturday's outcome…

IN THE BOX

Phil Jagielka v Sone Aluko

Sharpy says: "Aluko first came to my attention when he played for Rangers and I wasn't quite sure whether he could take the step up into the Premier League. But he's done very well so far and he'll be a threat on Saturday. That said, I'm more than happy that we've got Jags out there in decent form and coming off the back of two really solid performances for England. It should be an interesting battle but I expect Jags to come out on top."

Buckingham says: "Aluko's adaptation to the top flight has been pretty seamless and he already looks every inch the Premier League footballer. He was something of an unknown quantity at the start of the year but Hull have already seen opposition teams paying close attention to him. He's got pace, trickery and he likes to drop into that gap between the midfield and defence and give opponents something to worry about. He played very well at Manchester City against good defenders so I don't think he'll be fazed by coming up against Jagielka and Distin on Saturday."

IN THE ENGINE ROOM

James McCarthy v Tom Huddlestone

Sharpy says:
"Huddlestone found himself a little bit on the periphery at Tottenham but everybody knows what a good player he is. He's a great passer of the ball and a big lad to boot. But I think James McCarthy has come into Everton and looked immediately at home. He's a busy player, he'll get around Huddlestone's feet and he won't give him any time on the ball, which will be important."

Buckingham says: "Huddlestone has become an instant favourite since joining in August and looks a bargain at £5.25million. A lot of City fans are still pinching themselves that he's wearing their shirt. I don't think his ability has ever been in question, he just needed that run of games. He's a sumptuous passer, never looks troubled by who he's up against and makes the game look very easy. He helps the side retain possession and that's what any side coming up to the Premier League needs."

DOWN THE WING

Steven Naismith v Liam Rosenior

Sharpy says: "I saw Steven Naismith have a fantastic pre-season out in America, where he trained really hard and worked really hard in the games. In the two recent internationals for Scotland he played up front on his own and was excellent and managed to score a goal, so he's doing really well. People can be on the fence about him but he's a committed footballer who's working his socks off to be the best he can be - and he always seems to carry a threat in the box. He should be high on confidence and Rosenior will need to be ready for that."

Buckingham says:
"Liam had to wait for his turn this season before coming in, initially at left-back. The last couple of games he's played his more familiar role of right-back and he's someone whose appetite for it can never be questioned. There was perhaps a slight question mark over whether he could make the step up but he's done well so far. He's someone who likes to bomb on but he's reined in his game and he's more wary of the opposition now. He's comfortable on both sides and he's no slouch either, so he can handle players who go either side. I don't think you'll see too many wingers make a fool of him this season."




Don’t miss out - seats are still available for Saturday’s 3pm kick-off against Hull City. Tickets start from £32 for adults and only £16 for Under-16s.

Buying tickets is easy. Simply visit the Park End or Goodison Road box office or you can also pick up tickets in the city centre from either Everton Two or the Ticket Quarter in Queen Square. Alternatively, call  0871 663 1878 or buy online here.

Hospitality places are also still available - click here to book online.

Victor TayCome on Steven Naismith, without a doubt you are improving with each passing game. Keep on improving and nail down a permanent place in the first eleven!

Thursday 17th October 16:40 Report Comment
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