Win over Swans would all but assure Hull's safety
Steve Bruce began counting down from 10 the moment Hull City notched their first Premier League win of the season against Norwich City in August. Nine went to eight, seven, six and five by early December, and down from four, three, two and one through winter and into spring. Now they just needs one more victory to meet that 10-win target for survival. One more step over the finishing line. City's recent progress might have been statuesque following defeats at West Ham United and Stoke City, but now comes the chance to conclude their success story at home to Swansea City. - Report: Marriner handed FA Cup semifinal duty Win and the Premier League will surely be home for another year. Not only would Hull have 36 points on the board with five games still to come, they would boast a goal difference as good as having a 37th point to their name. Mathematical safety would have to wait a few weeks, but the bottom three would start needing miracles to drag the Tigers back in. Cardiff, Sunderland and Fulham would effectively need to find at least 11 points from their final games of the season. Cardiff and Fulham only have 18 points left to play for, while Sunderland's eight remaining games include dates with five of the top seven. For the current bottom three these would be orders as tall as The Shard. Bruce, though, would prefer not to rely on others. This has been a self-engineered survival campaign and Hull should not need the misfortune of others to provide the finishing touches. A seven-point advantage still held over the bottom three means it is only theirs to lose, even if they are now down in 14th, their lowest position on the league ladder since September. The key for Bruce is now making sure a happy fate is secured as soon as possible. Since beating West Brom 2-0 a fortnight ago, the defeats on the road at West Ham and Stoke have seen the needle stuck on a frustrating tune. Both games could and should have brought at least a point. Such stumbles have placed a natural emphasis on the visit of Swansea and the incentive is there to make the most of this last chance before the FA Cup semi-final against Sheffield United. The Tigers would much prefer to travel down to Wembley with a clear conscience. The only way to manage that is by avoiding a third straight defeat. A draw would not be a disaster and another small step in the right direction, but a win could make Saturday the defining afternoon in their season. If the victory over West Brom was described as the biggest of the year, the three points that spelled safety would be even greater eight days before the FA Cup semi-final. Bruce will have faith in his men seizing this chance. When playing at home to eight of the nine sides currently in the bottom half, only Crystal Palace have left the KC with a win. Norwich, West Ham, Fulham, Sunderland and West Brom were all beaten and there is little reason why this, their easiest remaining home game, cannot deliver another three points. No one will want to bank on the visits of Arsenal and Everton. Every indicator would suggest Hull will be carefree by the time the Toffees visit on the final day of the season. They are yet to go six games without a win all year and providing one arrives on schedule in the weeks to come, that will be all that matters. It is not as though they are sinking, either. The 2-1 loss at West Ham last week was as well as they have played for many a month. With 11 men they could have been lighting the cigars already. Swansea are not without motivation themselves this weekend, however. Level on points with the Tigers after picking up four points in their last two games, Garry Monk's men are also on the brink of securing another season on the highest cloud. The Europa League demands are over and the real Swansea City may just be stirring. In truth, neither of these sides appear to be in any trouble on 33 points. The gulf just looks too big now that it is April. Just a decade after Hull and Swansea could be found residing in the fourth tier of English football, the two unfashionable clubs have continued their uplifting stories that show little sign of ending here. This pleasant Tale of Two Cities will run on in the Premier League.