After the Christmas break, injury-hit United will eye a return to winning ways at improving Hull on Sunday…
Form guide: After a dismal start and changes off the pitch, Hull look to be slowly turning their season around. Admittedly they have lost two of their last three games, but both those defeats have come against top-four opposition (Arsenal and Aston Villa). They went through November unbeaten and lie 16th in the table ahead of the Boxing Day fixtures. United are four points off the pace after December defeats to Villa and Fulham, but have won the last five encounters with the hosts.
Ins and outs: Hull are without long-term absentees Jimmy Bullard and Ian Ashbee, who are both suffering with knee ligament damage. The Reds still have a depleted backline, but the Da Silva twins will both be available, with Fabio having come on as a substitute in the Fulham reversal. Nemanja Vidic and Wes Brown are also on the mend and have a chance of being included. Gary Neville (groin) and Ryan Giggs (hamstring) are doubtful, while Edwin van der Sar is still struggling with a knee complaint.
Star man: Giovanni is Hull’s brightest spark in the absence of Bullard. United will have to be wary about conceding free-kicks close to goal as the Brazilian playmaker is a dead-ball expert and has hit some spectacular strikes for the Tigers since he signed from Manchester City in 2008.
Manager: Phil Brown feared for his job last month when the Tigers had a change of chairman, but Hull’s recent improved results suggest he'll be safe for the time being. He has performed miracles at the KC Stadium, firstly by taking Hull into the Premier League and then by keeping them there against the odds. He learned his trade under Sir Alex’s good friend Sam Allardyce at Bolton.
Referee: Staffordshire’s Alan Wiley is a name familiar to United at the moment, after Sir Alex’s recent touchline ban for comments made about the official. Wiley has produced three red cards this season and was in charge for this fixture last term, on the final day when the Reds won 1-0 but Hull survived the drop.
Rivals watch: Chelsea travel to in-form Birmingham on Boxing Day, while Liverpool host Wolves, Manchester City play Stoke and Tottenham face Fulham. On Sunday, Arsenal and Aston Villa will battle it out for temporary second spot ahead of