Manchester — Hull started the season competing in Europe for the first time in its history, and could end it by dropping out of the English Premier League.
The offseason last year was full of optimism for the northeast club, which spent freely in the summer transfer window and was buoyant after qualifying for the Europa League through reaching the FA Cup final.
However, the side managed by former Manchester United defender Steve Bruce has struggled to meet rising expectations and fell into the bottom three last weekend. Hull has two games to escape relegation — and its chances are bleak.
Hull is third from bottom, above already-relegated Burnley and Queens Park Rangers, and two points from safety with games remaining away to Tottenham and at home to Manchester United.
Also read: Hull lose, relegation fears mount
"We have got a mountain to climb," said Bruce, who last summer broke the club's transfer record to sign Uruguay striker Abel Hernandez and also brought in Hatem Ben Arfa, Mohamed Diame and Gaston Ramirez — big names for a club the size of Hull — to bolster the squad for a season in Europe.
That didn't work out, though — Hull didn't even progress past the Europa League qualifiers.
Of the four other teams battling to avoid the drop, Leicester, Aston Villa and Sunderland have started to pick up form and victories. Leicester, for example, has won six of its last seven matches to climb off last place and move three points clear of trouble.
Newcastle, which is fourth to last, is the side most likely to get dragged down if Hull can earn an unlikely win in its final games. Newcastle visits QPR on Saturday and finishes at home to mid-table West Ham.
With the title wrapped up and the Champions League qualifiers all but confirmed, most of the focus in the last two weeks of the Premier League will be on the fight to avoid relegation.
Here are some other things to look out for this weekend:
Manchester United needs just a point from its final two games to secure a top-four place and a return to the Champions League after a one-year absence.
However, United could go into its home game against Arsenal on Sunday already back in Europe's top competition if fifth-place Liverpool fails to beat Crystal Palace on Saturday. Liverpool is six points behind United and has a much inferior goal difference
"Tuesday and Wednesday watching other teams compete (in the Champions League) broke my heart all this year," said United group managing director Richard Arnold, who added that the team's absence has been more painful in football terms rather than economically.
"It's where the players want to play, it's where the fans want to see us. Not being there hurts, right? We all aspire and see it as a key achievement milestone for us."
United would climb above Arsenal into third place with a win at Old Trafford.
GERRARD'S ANFIELD FAREWELL
Steven Gerrard will play his final home game for Liverpool when Palace visit Anfield on Saturday.
The former England captain will end his 17-year professional association with Liverpool when he moves to MLS side Los Angeles Galaxy at the end of the Premier League season.
"There's plenty of time to be sentimental and emotional after the games are done," said Gerrard, who has played 708 games for Liverpool, "but I don't really want to listen to supporters being emotional face to face, because I'm a little bit afraid of breaking down and showing too much."
LEICESTER ALMOST SAFE
Leicester will ensure its Premier League status for another season if it beats Sunderland in the most eye-catching match among the relegation-threatened teams. The teams are placed 15th and 16th respectively.
Villa will also be assured of survival by winning at Southampton on Saturday.For the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page.