West Ham to grind out a point
Ben Coley previews the Monday Night Football clash between Sunderland and West Ham, and doesn't expect fireworks.
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It's getting late in the day for Sunderland and this game is as close to 'must win' as you can get.
Tottenham, Everton, Manchester City and Chelsea follow for Gus Poyet's side and while there are bits and pieces of form which tell you they'll find a surprise result among those tests, they need to oblige as favourites first.
A run to the final of the Capital One Cup gave fans plenty to cheer but increasingly it looks as though those exploits, compounded by three games in the FA Cup, will come at a high price whereas West Ham are on course to survive with something to spare.
Sam Allardyce might not have the fans won over but February's Manager of the Month has succeeded in doing the job he's paid to do and not for the first time. Whether that is enough for fans at the Boleyn in the long run is a moot point as it's possible the Hammers could lose their remaining seven games and still survive.
West Ham's relative success has been built at home but they're no pushovers on the road and, with no wins in six weeks, there's no temptation to back the home side here.
Yes, they impressed for a spell at Liverpool but they've got a habit of causing problems as underdogs and are untrustworthy favourites despite the expected return of Fabio Borini.
Allardyce sweats on the fitness of James Collins but otherwise has a near full-strength squad and will set up to keep a clean sheet and build from there. As such, it's no surprise to see under 2.5 goals prohibitively priced but there's surely some mileage in no goalscorer at 9/1.
Neither side could break the deadlock in the reverse and with Sunderland poor in attack and West Ham content to take a point, a stalemate wouldn't in the least bit surprise.
Those wary of an early goal ruining this wager could do well to save on 1-0 either way but in a game lacking obvious value, the most dangerous of football bets is also the most compelling.
Sunderland 0 West Ham 0
The Black Cats have kept four clean sheets in their last five Premier League games against the Hammers, conceding just one goal in the other encounter.
Sam Allardyce's team have fired in fewer shots on target than any other team in the top flight (98).
Vito Mannone has saved a higher percentage of opposition shots on target than any other goalkeeper in the Premier League (80%).
The second best saves to shots ratio of Premier League goalkeepers has been registered by West Ham's Adrian (76%).