Eddie Howe's Bournemouth have a great chance at home to the Premier League's bottom club on Saturday but Andrew Atherley reckons there is some value in the visitors mustering prolonged resistance...
"Sunderland have kept a first-half clean sheet in half of their 10 league games and Bournemouth have failed to score in the first half of three of their five home games. That indicates a reasonable chance of Sunderland being able to keep things tight in the first half, even if they cannot sustain the effort for the whole match."
Back Draw/Bournemouth on Half Time/Full Time at [4.9]
Bournemouth v Sunderland
Saturday 5 November, 15:00
At this stage of last season Bournemouth were fourth-bottom and seemingly set for a relegation battle, but they survived comfortably in the end and look well set to do so again. In the past 12 months they have taken 46 points in what is the equivalent of a full season, which equates to a finishing position just below mid-table.
Eddie Howe's side are 10th after 10 games, already five points clear of the drop zone, and once again are earning plaudits for their entertaining brand of football, which reached its height with last month's 6-1 home defeat of Hull.
Bournemouth are expected to be without midfielder Andrew Surman after he suffered a hamstring strain. Dan Gosling is likely to return to the starting line-up.
The Black Cats were one place below Bournemouth at this stage of last season, with six points from their first 10 games, but they are going backwards. Having survived by the skin of their teeth under Sam Allardyce, they are winless for new boss David Moyes and are rooted to the bottom with a measly two points.
Defeat here could spell the end for Moyes after the joint-worst start to a Premier League season. Moyes' side are yet to keep a clean sheet and they are the lowest scorers in the Premier League, with just seven goals in 10 games, and that adds up to a fatal combination.
Injuries have hindered Moyes, with Lee Cattermole, Jan Kirchhoff and Fabio Borini having been sidelined for weeks, and the situation got worse when captain John O'Shea limped out of last Saturday's 4-1 home defeat by Arsenal with a hamstring problem that has ruled him out of this match.
Any team going up against Sunderland at the moment is going to be short odds and, with Moyes's team impossible to fancy on this season's form, the big question is whether Bournemouth can be trusted to deliver at [1.67].
Bournemouth's home form this season is encouraging (W3 D1 L1 - three wins out of three against teams outside the big six) but overall in the Premier League their home win rate is only 33% and last season they were beaten at home by relegated Aston Villa and Newcastle.
Both of those defeats came when they were still finding their feet, however, and since late November 2015 they are unbeaten against bottom-half opposition (either in last season's final table or the current standings), although the win rate is still not overwhelming (W4 D3 L0).
The big problem for Sunderland is their inability to keep a clean sheet and the only point they have mustered on the road came in the 1-1 at Southampton in August. They were fairly solid in early away games at Manchester City (lost 2-1) and Tottenham (lost 1-0) but confidence has drained away and, to compound the problem, they have had three blanks themselves in five away games (only two goals in total, one of which was a penalty).
When Bournemouth have scored at home against teams outside the big six, their record is W7 D4 L2 (improving to W6 D1 L1 in the last eight). Those last figures are the most convincing on their record, but still their short odds are influenced mainly by how bad Sunderland are.
It is tempting to go against majority opinion here and opt for under 2.5 goals at [2.12]. Bournemouth have had six out of 10 under 2.5 goals this season (split evenly home and away) and it rises to five out of seven against teams outside the big six (two out of three at home).
It is easy to jump to the conclusion that Sunderland will ship a lot of goals, but they have yet to concede more than two in an away game this season and their only away match with over 2.5 goals was the 2-1 defeat at Manchester City on the opening day.
Anyone looking to back the Bournemouth win might want to consider the Draw/Bournemouth option at [4.9].
Sunderland have kept a first-half clean sheet in half of their 10 league games and two of the exceptions were against Manchester City and Arsenal (the highest-scoring teams they have faced), while Bournemouth have failed to score in the first half of three of their five home games.
That indicates a reasonable chance of Sunderland being able to keep things tight in the first half, even if they cannot sustain the effort for the whole match.
Mike Dean tends towards the higher end of booking points and 45pts and over is favourite at [2.24], although this season he has had as many games in the 30-40pts bracket as he has in the higher category.
Back Draw/Bournemouth on Half Time/Full Time at [4.9]
Jermain Defoe has scored 20 Premier League goals for Sunderland since the start of last season - 14 more than any other player for the club in this period. Defoe is [3.05] to score in this match.
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