Tigers to bite in Brighton
Chris Hammer previews Monday night's FA Cup fifth-round clash between Brighton and Hull.
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Obviously Hull's main priority this season is Premier League rather than a fanciful bid for FA Cup glory so it's understandable why some punters would struggle to throw much weight behind the Tigers ahead of their long fifth-round trip to Brighton on Monday night.
Although Wigan proved last year that you can be distracted by the cup enough to win it at the same time as battling to beat the drop, their subsequent relegation perhaps highlights the dangers of a struggling side biting off more than they can chew.
Steve Bruce even admitted after Tuesday night's 1-0 home defeat to Southampton left his side just three points above the relegation zone that he expects the race for survival to go to the very last game, so it's hard to imagine him to be too bothered should they suffer a minor upset at the Amex Stadium.
Of course, you could have said the same thing ahead of their previous ties away at Middlesbrough and Southend but they managed to battle through those assignments without conceding a goal - despite Bruce making significant changes to his starting XI.
But Bruce could now start to take the cup more seriously.
In his press conference ahead of their journey south, the Hull boss said: "I think once you get to this stage of the cup it's different.
"If we can get past Brighton then all of a sudden you're in the quarter-finals and it starts getting exciting, certainly if you can get a nice draw.
"With four of the biggest teams - Chelsea and Manchester City and Liverpool and Arsenal - drawing each other there's an opportunity for someone somewhere along the line. Why not us?
"One thing we can't do is win the Premier League but as we saw with Swansea in the League Cup and Wigan in the FA Cup, anything is possible in those competitions. You win five games and you've won the cup. So let's get past Brighton and have a good run, why not?"
And who's to say Brighton want it any more than Hull?
The Seagulls are on the cusp of the play-off places and the potential glory of promotion should be a far greater incentive to Oscar Garcia, his players and the club's supporters.
Our very own Andy Schooler will certainly be hoping Bruce's changing attitude rubs off on his players having tipped them before the third round at 100/1 and I feel anyone who followed his advice will continue to get a run for their money.
Putting the motivation factor to one side, Hull's away record in the top flight this season has been pretty poor to say the least, collecting just eight points from their 13 games although the most recent of their two wins on the road came at fellow strugglers Sunderland last weekend so that will no doubt help dislodge any away-day mental block.
Nevertheless, the bookies make Hull outsiders to win this clash at the first attempt, with Stan James offering the best price of 5/2 while the hosts are no bigger than 7/5 with several firms. The draw, which would hardly be welcomed by either side, is 12/5 in places.
In-form Brighton do come into this clash on the back of four consecutive 1-0 home wins in all competitions so it's fair to say the Amex Stadium is not an easy place to go at the moment while those who take statistics at face value won't be expecting many goals on Monday night.
It's not often 'both teams to score' is odds-against but considering this bet would have only delivered in just one of Hull's last 10 games in all competitions and two of Brighton's last 10, you can see why the bookies have widely priced this market up at 11/10.
However, most of these matches have obviously come in league games when, certainly in Hull's case, the onus has been to avoid defeat rather than go all-out to win with strike forces which generally struggle for goals.
As previously mentioned, a potential replay is something both teams will want to avoid in order to keep their players as fresh as possible for the all-important league campaigns and for that reason I'd expect the shackles to be eased on Monday night.
So with all this in mind, I'm going to take a slightly bolder approach and back Hull in betway's 'match result and both teams to score' market at 8/1.
Verdict: Brighton 1 Hull 2