Manchester United-Hull City Preview
By TOM BENNETT
STATS European Football Writer
(AP) -- Manchester United will be looking to continue their recent recovery as they travel to the KC Stadium to face Hull City on Boxing Day.
David Moyes' United (8-4-5) have shown signs of improving after an inconsistent start to the campaign, winning their Champions League group and moving to within eight points of the top of the table with a 3-1 win over West Ham on Saturday. Danny Welbeck scored the opener in the win over the Hammers, and Moyes called for more goals from the England international.
"I think Danny's a really good player, and I want him to become a really good goal-scorer," said the United manager. "He's got three in his last three games, so that's a good record for him and he has to try to keep that level up."
Hull (5-5-7) were tipped by many at the start of the season as favourites for the drop, but Steve Bruce's side have already picked up 20 points near the halfway point. A late West Brom equaliser denied the Tigers another win on Saturday, but Bruce is already looking forward to the visit by the champions to Humberside.
"Over the Christmas period we host the champions, and they've run into some form which you would expect them to do," said Bruce. "Always in my experience when Man United come to town, it's the biggest and best occasion. For all of us at Hull, what better thing to have than have them on Boxing Day. Traditionally it's the biggest gate you have and it's just a great occasion for all of us."
Despite United's inconsistent form, Bruce backed his opposite number to be a success at Old Trafford.
"I think whoever had taken over would have needed a bit of time," said Bruce. "It's never easy to follow someone like Sir Alex, with the record he's got. But he's an outstanding manager, David, and it's just a matter of time before things click into place."
Marouane Fellaini will be missing for United after undergoing wrist surgery, while Nani (hamstring) and Robin van Persie (hip) are out. Michael Carrick will face a late fitness test. Hull have doubts over Robbie Brady (groin) and Steven Quinn (hamstring), but Sone Aluko (calf) remains out.
United have won all four Premier League meetings with Hull and scored three or more goals in all but one of those games.
Hull started the season with three wins in their opening six games, but have won just two of their 11 since. The KC Stadium has been a stronghold for the Tigers. They have kept five clean sheets at home already and conceded just three goals in their eight home games - the best record in the league.
United have won back-to-back matches after going four without a win. Moyes' side are unbeaten in five away from home and are joint top-scorers on the road with 11.
Updated December 24, 2013