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Hull City v Swansea City: Battle for the bubbly as Garry Monk's men bid to maintain momentum

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: April 04, 2014

Garry Monk captained the Swans the last time they played at the KC Stadium.

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IF Steve Bruce is right, they could stick a crate of champagne in the tunnel at the KC Stadium tomorrow.

Hull City and Swansea City could walk out past the fizzy stuff, refusing to touch it until the game is won.

The victors on Humberside will move on to 36 Premier League points, and Bruce reckons that will be enough to guarantee another year in the top flight.

For Hull, who are in their first season back at this level, that would be an achievement worth celebrating.

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And though they began this campaign with loftier ambitions, Swansea will reach for the bubbly too if and when 2013-14 ends with Premier League status secured.

It has been a difficult year, as highlighted by the Swansea hierarchy's decision to sack their manager for the first time in a decade.

And though this season will be remembered for a European adventure, Swansea will be happy when it is all over.

There are six games remaining, and Garry Monk's task is to ensure Swansea take enough points from them to keep them out of the bottom three.

He is not convinced by Bruce's suggestion that one more victory will be enough.

And even if three points are all Swansea need, Monk is keen for more.

After the struggles of the last few months, Monk wants Swansea to announce their intentions for next term by finishing this one with something of a flourish.

And he could do with a rousing climax to improve his chances of becoming Swansea boss on a full-time basis.

Monk's spell as head coach has not been easy.

After that memorable thumping of Cardiff which kicked it all off, he endured a run of nine games without a win.

Swansea performed well for most of that spell and deserved more success than they got, but it is results that count.

On that front, Monk has had a good couple of weeks.

First there was an uplifting draw at Arsenal and then, crucially, his team backed that result up by easing past Norwich City last weekend.

But still, Monk has drilled into his players this week, there is work to do.

"Hull is massive for us," he stresses.

With an FA Cup semi-final against Sheffield United ahead in nine days' time, this weekend's game is huge for Hull too.

Bruce's men looked all but safe when a 4-0 romp at Cardiff put them on 30 points in the third week of February.

But they have since lost four of five league games, to Stoke, West Ham, Manchester City and Newcastle United.

The odd fixture out saw the Tigers beat West Brom at the KC, and Bruce is looking for a repeat of that effort tomorrow.

"We're in a wonderful position and we could quite easily have finished the job off," reckons the former Manchester United star.

Ideally, Hull would like to get it done against Swansea, for they could then switch their attention to Wembley with most — if not all — of the Premier League pressure off.

And Monk is aware that there will be no shortage of desire in home ranks.

"I expect Hull to come out with a real fire in their bellies," he says.

"They will be desperate to beat us, and we have to match that.

"If we can do that, then we will give ourselves a chance to show our quality and hopefully that will cause them some problems.

"But first of all we have to match their intensity.

"We have to earn the right to play, just like we did against Norwich.

"We did all the basics right last weekend and we have to do that again."

Monk was Swansea's captain the last time they went to Hull, for a 2-0 defeat back in August 2010.

It was Brendan Rodgers's first match in charge, and he memorably talked afterwards about how he was a football manager rather than a magician.

Rodgers's point was that in Gorka Pintado, Shefki Kuqi and Stephen Dobbie, he did not have sufficient firepower for an assault on the Championship.

A few days later Swansea signed Scott Sinclair, and the now Liverpool manager's viewpoint changed.

Monk should not be concerned about his forward options on this trip to Humberside.

With Wilfried Bony in sensational form, Michu looking stronger all the time and the likes of Jonathan de Guzman and Wayne Routledge coming to the party, Swansea look good going forward.

Kevin KIlbane, a one-time Hull player turned pundit, suggested the other day that Swansea struggle for goals.

In fact they have scored more than all but seven teams in the Premier League.

The problem this season has been a failure to keep the opposition out.

Norwich was only Swansea's third shutout in their last league 18 matches.

The three games they have won during that sequence? The three where they kept clean sheets.

Tomorrow the likes of Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long will be the key men to smother and, if Swansea manage that, they will give themselves a great chance of making it three games unbeaten.

"Hull will be defensively strong and hard to break down, and going forward they have some dangerous players," Monk says.

"They also have an experienced manager who knows how to survive in this league, so it will be a very difficult game for us."

But one where Monk's players will feel they have a chance.

It has been more than four months since Swansea won an away league fixture.

Change the record tomorrow and the fans, at least, will raise a glass.

Swansea City

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  • nettevaughan  |  April 04 2014, 11:30AM

    Champers for the players.Thats OK BUT remember your fans.If you want to make our lives a misery then get relegated.Do you all realize how important it is for US? Dont listen to Bruce- target 40 points this season.Good luck lads.Wish I could be there tomorrow

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