Reds mean danger for Sunderland

  • By: Ben Coley and Andy Schooler
  • Last Updated: March 26 2014, 21:35 GMT

Another cakewalk looks on the cards for Liverpool in the Premier League on Wednesday, while Hull can win at West Ham.

Our Ben Coley says the stats show Liverpool are too big a price to notch another convincing win when they host Sunderland.

And Andy Schooler believes Hull, with Shan Long and Nikica Jelavic firing on all cylinders, can triumph on the road at West Ham.

Here's our match-by-match verdict on Wednesday's top-flight games:

Liverpool v Sunderland (2000 GMT)

There seems only one way to write this preview, and that's to underline how one-sided this game appears to be on paper. Liverpool have won 12 of their 14 Premier League games at Anfield with an average of three goals per game. They've not lost in the league in 2014 and arrive here on a six-match winning run, one which has seen them score a remarkable 24 goals at four per game. Since losing to Southampton here in September, they've won 10 from 11 at home and nine of these victories have been by two or more goals. Sunderland have lost their last four matches away from the Stadium of Light, conceding 12 and scoring just twice in the process. In each of these matches their opponents covered at least a one-goal handicap. They lost this fixture 3-0 last year and lost the reverse 3-1. Liverpool's star striker Luis Suarez has an excellent record against Sunderland. He's scored a brace in each of his last two appearances against them and has seven in six overall. Daniel Sturridge, meanwhile, has 10 goals in 10 Premier League appearances at Anfield this season. Sunderland, on the other hand, average just a goal every 216 minutes at Liverpool in the Premier League. That's probably enough. So what chance an upset? It appears slim, even if the pressure of expectation is mounting at Liverpool. Brendan Rodgers is doing an excellent job and they're bankers here before the bigger tests come in the spring. Indeed, for those who are happy to play at odds-on, take the 4/6 quoted by Stan James and Boylesports about Liverpool scoring three or more goals. The bet I really like, though, is Liverpool -2 on the handicap. You can get odds-against here and everything in the form book says it should be odds-on. As mentioned, Liverpool have covered the standard handicap in nine of their last 11 at home but they've also covered a two-goal start in five of those. Sunderland may not have it in them to expose a leaky Liverpool defence and they'll need to to stay within touching distance. Gus Poyet's side have looked flat since losing the Capital One Cup final and last week's defeat to Norwich was really poor. Expect Liverpool to pounce on the Black Cats.

Verdict: Liverpool 5 Sunderland 1 (BC)

Opta stats:

Sunderland have won just three of the 25 Premier League games against Liverpool, losing 14 - all three of these wins have come at home.

Luis Suarez needs two goals to become the first Liverpool player to score 30 league goals in a single season since Ian Rush in 1986-87.

In 11 Premier League games in 2014, Liverpool have scored an average of 3.45 goals per game. Over a full season that would result in 131 goals.

Liverpool have won 10 and lost none of their last 11 Premier League games at Anfield.

West Ham v Hull (1945)

Hull look worth siding with at the prices here. Look at the 'away table' and the Tigers (should I call them that?) are towards the bottom but they've picked up of late. Their last two away league trips have brought wins at Cardiff (4-0) and Sunderland (2-0). There's little doubt what's been responsible for their improved form on the road - the signings of Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic have proved a masterstroke with both offering a real outlet, particularly in these away games where Hull can now play a strong counter-attacking game. Jelavic scored in both those away wins, but it is the pair's understanding with each other which has really caught the eye. They just seem to have clicked. Hull's strong start to the season was based on a solid defence and although it has let them down on occasions - at home to Newcastle recently being a case in point - in the main it's done a fine job for a team who this time last year, it should be remembered, were in the Championship. Boss Steve Bruce is confident Long will be fit for this one after picking up a knock to his knee at the weekend and if that's the case the visitors look good business at 12/5. The hosts enjoyed a stellar February, winning four in a row, but since they've lost three on the spin and looked very predictable on Saturday, swinging balls into the box from wide or deep. They lost 2-0 at home to a low-on-confidence Manchester United side which had a midfielder playing at centre-half. Hull look the better of these two teams at present, indeed they have done for much of the season. They sit higher in the table and deserve support.

Verdict: West Ham 1 Hull 2 (AS)

Opta stats:

Carlton Cole has scored in each of his three league appearances for West Ham at home against Hull, netting a total of four goals.

Hull have won two successive Premier League away games - the last time that they went on a longer run than this in the top-flight away from home was in October 2008 (four wins).

Hull's last four clean sheets in the Premier League have coincided with their last four wins.

Shane Long has three goals and an assist in eight Premier League games for Hull, matching his total in 15 appearances for West Brom earlier in the season.

  • Posted at 2130 GMT on 25/03/2014.