Sunderland head to the Emirates Stadium to play their game in hand against Arsenal on Wednesday night. They need a point to absolutely guarantee safety, but will they get one? Luke Moore previews the action...
"At first glance, 1.695/7 looks dreadfully short on Overs given that Arsenal can occasionally struggle to break sides down - they haven't scored in their last two home games for instance - and Sunderland will clearly try to make things difficult in their quest for the point they need."
Arsenal v Sunderland
Live on Sky Sports 1
The Gunners now look likely to finish third in the Premier League this term, their highest position since 2012 and improvement of one place on last year. Just one defeat in their last ten league games has seen them almost certainly fight off the threat of Manchester United in fourth, and with the FA Cup final to look forward to, Arsenal fans can be reasonably content with their team's work.
How they now kick on and make themselves viable title contenders is something for Arsene Wenger to wrestle with over the summer, but for now a robust and fairly spirited Sunderland come to town knowing a point will see them safe for another year. This won't be an easy assignment for Wenger's men.
The Gunners will be without Danny Welbeck, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mathieu Debuchy.
Sunderland under Dick Advocaat have hit a decent run of form at just the right time. They may not have hit the heights of rivals Leicester, but the Black Cats are now undefeated in four games and have lost just one of their last six Premier League games. All this means that it's very unlikely they'll suffer the dreaded drop - three points clear with a game in hand means they're a 10.519/2 poke for relegation, by far the outsiders compared with Newcastle (7.613/2) and Hull (1.271/4).
But Advocaat and his side need a point from somewhere and trips to the Emirates and then Stamford Bridge are hardly what the doctor ordered. That said, Sunderland have picked up points here and there from the Emirates before courtesy of the odd 0-0 draw and their tactics here will surely involve making it difficult for Arsenal.
Advocaat will be without Wes Brown, Jack Rodwell and possibly Jordi Gomez for this one.
Home side Arsenal are a very skinny price for this, just 1.321/3 to win. But when we consider their form and quality going forward maybe that's reasonable enough. Sunderland sit way out at 12.011/1, and The Draw trades at 6.05/1 at time of writing.
I wonder if the away side might just be able to eke something out here though; Opta and Andy Brassell tell us that eight of their 16 draws this season have come on the road and as I've previously mentioned, the Stadium of Light outfit have a history of nabbing 0-0 draws in this fixture. 6.05/1 is decent enough, but I'm tempted just to lay Arsenal at what looks a short price.
It would need Lee Cattermole and his men to be at the very top of their game of course, but this is the time of the season for heroics and it's not beyond the realms of possibility that they can pick up something positive on Wednesday night.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
At first glance, 1.695/7 looks dreadfully short on Overs given that Arsenal can occasionally struggle to break sides down - they haven't scored in their last two home games for instance - and Sunderland will clearly try to make things difficult in their quest for the point they need.
Unders trades at a big 2.447/5 and that has to be the call here. Both these sides' last two games have gone Unders and this game is absolutely set up as a nip-and-tuck affair. There is always the chance that Arsenal will blow a team away if they're in the mood, but I think Sunderland can keep it tight, given the stage of the season we're at and the fact that Sunderland need something.
I'm sure you can detect a theme developing here with how I think this game will go, and if we don't think Sunderland can hold out for the entire game it stands to reason they'll be able to last at least until half time, and this is where this market comes in.
2.727/4 on The Draw at Half Time is a good bet and serves as a good saver in case the away team can't quite see the whole game out.
Lay Arsenal at 1.321/3
Back Under 2.5 Goals at 2.447/5
Back The Draw in Half Time market at 2.727/4
Luke Moore Premier League P/L