Sunderland face Leicester in a match that will have a major bearing on the title and relegation.
Leicester’s goal difference of +24 matches the record lowest by a Premier League champion after 32 games, which is held by Man Utd from the very first season in 1992/93. Furthermore, a higher proportion of their wins have been by one-goal margins than any previous champion at this stage, but rather than being a negative for the Foxes it rather highlights the paucity of the challenges made by the ‘Big’ teams.
However, it does also go some way to explaining how we have a leader, and champion-elect, at odds-against when playing a relegation threatened side this late in the season as despite their run they are numerically far less dominant than their position suggests. That doesn’t mean they aren’t still being underestimated though.
The Foxes have scored just 18 goals in their last 15 matches but with five 1-0 wins in their last six, and only seven goals conceded throughout that run, they continue to stretch their lead at the top of the standings. It does mean that eight of their last 12 matches have had fewer than two goals and they’ve recorded seven clean sheets in their last eight games against the current bottom eight, winning six.
The King Power Stadium has produced an electric atmosphere this season but they are really winning this league on the road where they have two more wins than any other side. Given they’ve averaged the least possession in the league for much of the campaign it’s perhaps not surprising that they’ve been so comfortable on the road with the greater chances to counter-attack. With Norwich’s dramatic late winner at Newcastle last week, and Sunderland only drawing in their last four games, the Black Cats really need to push for wins – and that could play straight into the Foxes hand’s and also lead to a few more goals.
Both teams have scored in nine of Sunderland’s last 12 matches and they at least have a fully fit squad to take on the leaders with. Leicester’s away matches have tended to be higher scoring than at home – 63% of their away matches have had Over 2.5 Goals compared with 44% at home – with both teams scoring in three of their last five on the road.
‘Overs’ does have a contrarian appeal here but the price isn’t big enough for us, though it could be worth backing in-play if the game looks quite open. Instead we prefer the away win. The Foxes have already shown they can win games that are open or tight and that adaptability has led to their excellent away record. Sunderland have kept just one clean sheet in 16 games against the current top-half this term with 11 defeats and we expect that to be how this one ends as well.
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