North-eastern promise

  • By: David John, Chris Hammer and Andy Schooler
  • Last Updated: March 22 2014, 15:29 GMT

Sunderland and Newcastle are picks on our coupon for Saturday's Premier League action.

Gus Poyet's Sunderland look worth backing at Norwich
Gus Poyet's Sunderland look worth backing at Norwich

The Blacks Cats head to Norwich for another crucial match at the bottom of the table.

And while Newcastle lost at Fulham last week, they are taken to bounce back when they entertain a Crystal Palace side who have struggled all season on their travel.

Here's our match-by-match verdict:

Chelsea v Arsenal (1245GMT)

This should be a lively start to the weekend as the pair put their continuing title aspirations on the line. Chelsea are a best price of 20/21 and rather opened the door again for the pursuers thanks to that ill-tempered 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa last weekend. They did get back on course in midweek as they booked a place in the last eight of the Champions League and Frank Lampard admitted "they move on to Arsenal in good heart". This will be Arsene Wenger's 1,000th game at the helm for the Gunners and 999 was a gutsy success at Spurs which saw them poach an early lead and then cling on - desperately at times - for a valuable three points that leaves them four behind this opposition with a game in hand. The list of statistics below only seem to muddy the waters in terms of a prediction and I am sure Wenger would love to crown his own landmark game with a potential huge step for his team in terms of the campaign. I think the Gunners will manage to break their duck in terms of scoring this season against the home team but this is just the type of fixture where Jose Mourinho can overpower a close rival and ultimately bully his way to three points.

Verdict: Chelsea 2 Arsenal 1 (DJ)

Opta stats:

Jose Mourinho has never lost against Arsene Wenger as an opposition manager (W5 D5 L0).

Arsenal have won away at Stamford Bridge more often than any other visiting side in the Barclays Premier League (7).

The last five Premier League wins Arsenal have enjoyed at Stamford Bridge have all seen the Gunners come from behind to win.

Chelsea have the best home record in the top flight with 41 points and are the only team not to suffer a home defeat in the Premier League this season.

Arsenal have the best away record with 29 points on the road, which is level with Spurs, but they have a better goal difference of +6.

Cardiff v Liverpool (1500)

Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have attracted most of the headlines during Liverpool's impressive season, one which is looking increasingly like it could end with one of the most surprising title wins in years. The pair have been odds-on to score in most matches for some time now. However, when looking into this match I was struck by the price Steven Gerrard was to score at any time - you can get 11/4. That looks big when you consider he's scored in seven of his last 11 games, netting eight times in total. The majority of those goals have come from the penalty spot. Indeed Liverpool have had a league-high 10 penalties awarded in their favour this season. It's hardly luck, though, with those often resulting from the trickery of either Suarez or Sturridge. Given Liverpool's red-hot form - they've won their last five to close the gap on their title rivals - and Cardiff's struggles, there must be a good chance Liverpool hit the goal trail again here. Cardiff may have had some decent results against the better teams at home this season but if they fall behind early doors - and Liverpool have been kings of the early goal this season - their current lack of confidence could easily see them crumble. If that happens, Gerrard can capitalise at a decent price, penalties or not. Yes, the England star does play deeper these days, but he's more than capable of popping up with a goal from open play or a set piece. The 11/4 looks a possible spot of value for a game which sees Liverpool go off hot favourites at less than 1/2.

Verdict: Cardiff 1 Liverpool 3 (AS)

Opta stats:

30% of Cardiff's goals have come from headers, the highest proportion of any team in the top division, while Liverpool (11) have scored the most in total.

Liverpool have conceded the highest proportion of headed goals (23%), while Cardiff have also conceded the joint-most headed goals in the Premier League this season (10).

Liverpool have scored more first half goals in the Premier League this season (48) than 16 of the other 19 teams in the league have in total this season.

Cardiff have won their last five home league games against Liverpool, but the last of these was in 1959.

Everton v Swansea (1500)

I see no reason to turn off the profitable road I went down last week and suggest Everton to win by a one-goal margin. It took an admittedly late goal for last week's bet to come good against Cardiff, but in many ways that was the scenario expected - the Blues are not playing at their best but, certainly at home, they remain capable of fighting their way to results. This week they come up against another side they should beat. Swansea have now gone seven games without a win in all competitions. They lost to lowly West Brom last week and failed to beat Crystal Palace at home the week before. Their last two domestic trips have seen them perform well on Merseyside, but they still lost 4-3 at Anfield and 3-1 at Goodison in the FA Cup. It was a much-changed team put out that day by Garry Monk but they performed creditably and so the fact that Michu, Jonjo Shelvey and Nathan Dyer should all be fit for this rematch should give them hope of securing the club's first-ever win over the Toffees. However, achieving that at Goodison is a big ask these days - as pointed out last week it's now just two league defeats in two years for the hosts here. Phil Jagielka could return to make Everton even tougher to beat this weekend and 13/5 about them edging to another one-goal win looks fair enough. It would be their fifth such win in their last six home league games. For those wanting to be a little more greedy, Draw-Everton in the HT-FT market at 19/5 is also worthy of consideration. Everton haven't scored in the first half of a league game since mid-January and have been level at the break in their last six in all competitions. Finally, a Swansea price to catch the eye is the 15/2 offered about Jonathan de Guzman scoring at any time. He did just that in the Cup tie here last month and has now found the net on three of his last five starts. While Everton have been a tough nut to crack, clean sheets haven't been a particularly regular occurrence. Of the other relegation-threatened sides, Hull, Fulham, Sunderland and Cardiff have already scored at Goodison this season which will give the likes of De Guzman plenty of encouragement.

Verdict: Everton 2 Swansea 1 (AS)

Opta stats:

Everton have never lost in any competition to Swansea (W14 D5 L0) and have already beaten them twice this season, once in the Premier League and once in the FA Cup.

35% of Everton's goals have come in the final 15 minutes of matches this season, the highest proportion in the league this season.

Swansea have won just two of their last 15 Premier League matches (W2 D5 L8).

Everton have lost just one of their last 23 Premier League games at Goodison Park (W17 D5 L1).

Hull v West Brom (1500)

I was right to side with West Brom at odds-against to win against Swansea last weekend and I'm tipping the Baggies to make it back-to-back victories on the road at a best price of 11/4 with BetVictor. My argument in a nutshell last week was that they hadn't been as bad as the media made out under Pepe Mel despite his winless streak (which included creditable home draws with Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton) and they were up against another side looking over their shoulders following a worrying run of form. That triumph will have given the whole squad a lift and renewed hope of survival while this weekend's opponents Hull are clearly not out of the woods yet following their 2-0 home defeat to 10-man Manchester City last Saturday. It's easy to see the Tigers, whose form at the KC Stadium has dipped since Christmas, being sucked right back into danger in the coming weeks, starting with a poor result in this encounter.

Verdict: Hull 1 West Brom 2 (CH)

Opta stats:

None of the last six league meetings between Hull and West Brom has ended as a home win, the last two being draws and the previous four away wins.

Hull have won none of their last five Premier League home games (W0 D1 L4) and have scored just two goals in that run.

Hull have seen more opponents (6) sent off than any other team in the Premier League this season.

Four of the last six Premier League goals scored by West Brom have been netted by substitutes.

Manchester City v Fulham (1500)

Fourth-placed Manchester City head into the weekend's programme as title favourites again having cut the deficit on leaders Chelsea to six points with three games in hand - and I fully expect them to keep the pressure on by easing to victory over Fulham. Despite playing for nearly all their game against Hull last Saturday with only 10 men, City's 2-0 win proved how desperate they are to stay in the title picture in the wake of their FA Cup and Champions League exits so I doubt you'll see any sign of complacency against the rock-bottom Cottagers. Although the visitors gave themselves a little hope of beating the drop with a much-needed triumph against Newcastle last time out, snatching even a point at a club who have won 12 of 13 home games in the Premier League this season is a different challenge entirely. With the hosts no bigger than 1/6 for victory, you could do worse than backing David Silva to score first at 9/1 with 888sport, who also offer a tempting 5/2 in the anytime market. The Spaniard was inspirational at the KC Stadium and showed clear signals of a return to top form.

Verdict: Manchester City 3 Fulham 0 (CH)

Opta stats:

Manchester City have won seven and lost none of the last 10 matches with Fulham in all competitions.

Fulham have managed just one clean sheet in their 23 Barclays Premier League games against City and none in the last 19 meetings.

Manchester City have won each of the last 21 competitive matches that Spanish midfielder David Silva has found the net in.

Newcastle v Crystal Palace (1500)

We all know how well Tony Pulis has done to put Crystal Palace in with a great chance of survival considering the seemingly precarious position he found the Eagles in back at the end of November but I just sense they're about to embark on an irreversible slide towards relegation. Following last weekend's goalless draw at Sunderland, Palace have still only netted six goals away from home in the Premier League this season and Pulis hasn't made them look any more threatening on the road since his appointment. Newcastle put their recent home struggles behind them with a morale-boosting 1-0 victory over Aston Villa in their last outing at St James' Park although they'll be keen to bounce back from the 1-0 defeat against Fulham at Craven Cottage last time out. That said, my tip of Newcastle to win to nil at 21/10 with Sky Bet is more based on Palace's blunt away performances rather than the Magpies' strengths.

Verdict: Newcastle 1 Crystal Palace 0 (CH)

Opta stats:

Crystal Palace have failed to score in their last six meetings with Newcastle in all competitions.

The Eagles have scored with just 8% of their shots at goal this season, the lowest proportion in the Premier League.

The Londoners have netted just six goals in their last 14 Premier League away matches, with just one in the last five.

Norwich v Sunderland (1500)

Just four points separate this pair and Sunderland are quietly fancied to do themselves a huge favour in their bid for survival and narrowly pick up all three points. The Opta stats below suggest that an away win is significantly unlikely but the Black Cats had built up a little head of steam on the road in the Premier League and having it ended by title-chasing Arsenal recently is hardly a disgrace. The feeling is that Gus Poyet's side are set up better to compete on the road and have that ability to hit opposition on the break while soaking up pressure. Canaries boss Chris Hughton is feeling plenty of the latter and the best part of 2,000 travelling fans were on his back at Southampton last week. His side showed some pluck with a couple of late goals but they were already 3-0 down at the time and Hughton admitted they were comfortably outplayed for lengthy spells. Sunderland are not as classy as the Saints but could certainly play on Norwich's current frailties and Carrow Road will turn into a hostile environment if the hosts don't put some sort of early stamp on the game. Poyet admitted that a solitary goal could be all that is required from either side and they must be the ones to get it. Steven Fletcher's ankle injury is an irritant but I just like the visitors to buck recent trends and nick it.

Verdict: Norwich 0 Sunderland 1 (DJ)

Opta stats:

There have been just five goals scored in the last six Barclays Premier League games played at Carrow Road, three for the Canaries and two against.

Craig Gardner scored in both Premier League meetings with Norwich last season.

None of the last 12 league meetings between Norwich and Sunderland has ended as an away win (nine home wins and three draws).

Norwich are unbeaten in their last five Premier League home matches (W2 D3).

Defeat at Arsenal last time out ended a ruin of six without defeat on the road for the Black Cats in the Premier League (D3 W3).

West Ham v Manchester United (1730)

All is well again in Old Trafford-land - well, at least for the time being, as David Moyes saved his skin with the Red Devils outclassing Olympiacos to progress a stage further in the Champions League. Be under no illusion though, it was relief rather than joy that swept the red half of Manchester in midweek and anything other than a decent night from David De Gea would have seen what remains an unreliable defence punished. This is a fascinating game for them then with the building blocks in place for a late-season surge. They have a great record against the Hammers recently and the latter continue to swing from one end of the spectrum to other having won four on the bounce before tanking in their last two. A return to Upton Park should help though and a Sam Allardyce-coached side ready to put its foot in might well test how strong the belief is now in the visitors' camp. It will be interesting to see how Moyes plays things tactically - will Ryan Giggs be able to back up and pull the strings again with Danny Welbeck providing the pace angle up front? The bottom line is that I can't pin down anything rock-solid for either team and no bet from these quarters is the suggestion.

Verdict: West Ham 1 Manchester United 1 (DJ)

Opta stats:

The Hammers have failed to score in six of their last nine Barclays Premier League games against United.

Manchester United have lost none of the last 10 top-flight games against West Ham, winning nine.

Wayne Rooney has scored seven goals and assisted three more in his last seven Premier League appearances against West Ham.

West Ham have dropped more points (17) and lost more games (5) from winning positions than any other team in the Premier League this season.

  • Posted at 2215 GMT on 20/03/2014.