Another 90 minutes of Premier League action await us. But that hour and a half could feel particularly long for Hull during their trip to Man City, as Neil Harvey explains in this week's Overs or Unders...
"Manuel Pellegrini´s team seem nailed-on to dominate Hull from the get-go and have the ability to put their fragile opponents to the sword over the course of what might feel like a very long 90 minutes for the Tigers"
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal 12:45
Traditionally this used to be a fixture that could be relied upon for goals. But the times they are a-changing. Of these teams´ last four meetings, not one produced more than two-and-a-half goals. Arsene Wenger, it seems, might finally be turning his attentions to making Arsenal more resolute at the back. And in Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs arguably have one of the most defensive-minded managers they've had for several generations. Not that it´s been evident in either sides' results this season. But I suspect we will see a distinctly cautious mindset this Saturday afternoon. Both teams realise their chances of winning the title are nothing but a pipe dream now, focusing instead on the Champions League race and will be loathe to concede ground to such a close rival.
Arsenal produced a resolute defensive display in their 2-0 win at Man City a couple of weeks back. Surely they´ll be aiming for a repeat of that performance. And I suspect that could well set the tempo for the game. With just 18 goals scored at White Hart Lane this season, Spurs may lack the firepower to simply bundle Arsenal over. Instead they may have to try tease their opponents out of their shell over the course of the 90 minutes. The Gunners though, given their two point advantage over Tottenham in the table, may be reluctant to take the bait.
Under 2.5 Goals @ 2.186/5
Manchester City v Hull 15:00
Last week's 3-0 home defeat to Newcastle must have been a bitter confidence blow for Hull boss Steve Bruce. And now, to make things worse, he has to take his defensively-shattered team to the Etihad for a 90 minute onslaught from the Premier League´s second highest scorers. Hull´s most recent away outing doesn´t offer any hope either. A 3-0 defeat at West Ham, that saw the Tigers exposed though the middle of their defence by the pace of, and yes you´re reading this right, Stewart Downing.
Those recent results, and abject performances, bode extremely badly for Hull as they prepare now to face a Manchester City side who'll be desperate to get their title challenge back on track. City may have drawn a blank against the Gunners in their last home outing, but they enjoyed the bulk of possession and shots on goal. They similarly bossed proceedings in last week's impressive 1-1 draw at Chelsea. So Manuel Pellegrini's team seem nailed-on to dominate Hull from the get-go and have the ability to put their fragile opponents to the sword over the course of what might feel like a very long 90 minutes for the Tigers.
Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.635/8
Newcastle United v Stoke City 14:05
Mid-table battles can sometimes turn stale. But I suspect this one could leave a rather pleasant taste in the mouth if you count on it to produce goals. It feels as though Newcastle underwent some kind of transformation at Christmas. Prior to it, they´d been frugal at the back and struggled to create much up front. Since Christmas day though, they've been transformed, scoring 11 and conceding 12 in the six games that have followed. As a consequence, five of those six matches have been high scoring and made Newcastle a team to follow when you're looking for excitement. Even the departure of Alan Pardew has done nothing to slow that impetus. Indeed, the need of his temporary replacement John Carver to produce immediate results has served only to add to the goal fever.
Stoke are one of the most unpredictable sides in the division, with little to separate their home form from their results on the road. Potters manager Mark Hughes must though surely fancy his side's chances of getting a result against a team two points beneath them. If either of these teams are to make a serious bid for a European place then this is the kind of game they have to win. With both clubs double digits clear of the relegation zone, there's no reason for either to have any fear. So in that case neither will I. Hence, goals is the call.
Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.226/5
This should be a cracking contest and a keenly fought one at that. West Ham may have slipped down the table a touch from the previous heady heights of third place but they remain a formidable force. This is especially true at Upton Park, where Sam Allardyce's men have lost only one of their last nine games. The bedrock of that success was West Ham's defence, which conceded just five times during those nine games. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of those matches ended low-scoring.
So this will be a tough ask for Manchester United, although they too arrive in fine form, having not lost in their last six on the road. Once again, solid defence has been the key to that form. The last time United conceded more than a single league goal on their travels came way back in October. Since then, Louis Van Gaal's team have been miserly at the back. And as a result they've risen to third in the table. I expect both teams to stick to the conservative approach that's served them so well and so the call here has to be a low-scoring game.
Under 2.5 Goals @ 2.001/1
2014/15 Season P/L