Sunderland v West Ham
Dark times at the Stadium of Light, with manager David Moyes embroiled in controversy and his team in even deeper trouble at the bottom of the table on 20 points after last week's 3-0 home defeat by Manchester United, leaving them 10 points from safety with just seven matches to go.
With no win in seven games (and not even a goal scored during that run), the Black Cats appear to have used up all their luck and the players look resigned to their fate.
Sebastian Larsson is suspended for three matches after being sent off against United and Bryan Oviedo picked up a hamstring injury, putting him on the sidelined list with long-term absentees Duncan Watmore, Jan Kirchhoff and Paddy McNair.
Slaven Bilic's team secured a vital three points with last weekend's 1-0 home win over Swansea, ending a winless run of seven matches and taking the Hammers eight points clear of the relegation zone.
Bilic's list of injury problems grew longer when Michail Antonio pulled a hamstring against Swansea and was ruled out for three weeks. Andy Carroll looks set to return up front, with Andre Ayew playing off him.
Edmilson Fernandes is likely to deputise in midfield for suspended skipper Mark Noble, while Sam Byram is expected to shake off an ankle knock and allow Bilic to name an unchanged defence.
Any team is going to be short odds against Sunderland now, even one that has been struggling as much as West Ham in recent weeks, and many punters will want to be against Moyes's team right to the end of their sorry season.
The big question is whether the Hammers can deliver at [2.36] and, while those odds may not be too appealing at first glance, the stats are encouraging. Against the six teams below them in the table, Bilic's side have a strong record of W8 D1 L2 and they have scored in every one of those 11 matches, which is a significant positive against low-scoring Sunderland.
West Ham's two defeats in that category came on the road in recent weeks but both were against good home teams (3-2 at Bournemouth and 2-1 at Hull). Their other away games were all victories (1-0 at Crystal Palace, 4-1 at Swansea and 3-1 at Middlesbrough).
A repeat of any of those performances (even in the defeats they opened the scoring) is likely to be enough unless Sunderland suddenly rouse themselves from their stupor.
The Stadium of Light has become a difficult place for Moyes's team and their last home win was 1-0 against Watford on December 17. Their home record since then is W0 D3 L4 and, although that includes battling draws against Liverpool and Tottenham, they have scored only three goals during that run.
Despite those initial reservations about West Ham, they look a risk worth taking at the odds.
West Ham rank quite high for over 2.5 goals, joint-seventh with 19 out of 32 (59%), and their figures are higher on the road (11 out of 16, 69%). Their lower-scoring away games all came when they were restricted to no more than one goal and their scoring record against the teams below them points to a good chance of a higher return here.
The issue is whether Sunderland will contribute anything. When they have scored at home, seven out of nine have gone over 2.5 goals; when they haven't, that has fallen to three out of seven.
This has to be a big runner, as two-thirds of Sunderland's defeats have been to nil (14 out of 21), including their unlucky 1-0 loss away to the Hammers in the reverse fixture.
Six of West Ham's eight wins against bottom-six teams have been to nil, although it has to be noted that only one of those was on the road.
Andre Marriner had a quiet run through the mid-season but his card count has risen again in recent weeks, with six of his last eight Premier League matches having at least 50 bookings points.
Back West Ham at [2.36]
On Saturday, it'll be over three months since Sunderland scored a goal at home in the Premier League (January 14th) and they've now attempted 51 successive shots without scoring at the Stadium of Light. West Ham are [3.85] to win to nil.
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Andrew Atherley 2016/17 Season P/L
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