Arsenal could hammer a nail in Sunderland's coffin by taking all three points on Sunday.
Sunderland picked up a huge win last weekend as they went to Carrow Road and won 3-0 against the side they need to overtake in the run-in to survive. It was certainly a welcome three points for a side that has been struggling to turn draws into wins in the past couple of months.
Since the start of 2016 the Black Cats have gone W4-D6-L4 with those defeats all coming against top-six teams and none seeing them totally overwhelmed; they took the lead and were level at half-time at Spurs before losing 4-1, lost 1-0 against Man City when the better side in the second half, lost 1-0 at West Ham and were level for an hour against Leicester as an injury-time goal resulted in a harsh 2-0 score. Away from those defeats there was a good point from a trip to Southampton and an impressive win against Man Utd. Big Sam has made them particularly hard to break down at home as they’ve conceded just 11 times in 12 games here since he took over, with seven being level at half-time.
Last season four of Sunderland’s home games against the top six had fewer than three goals as they managed to pick up three draws while this term they’ve gone W1-D2-L2 hosting the current top six while six of their eight home games against the current top half have had fewer than three strikes.
Arsenal have produced a classic collapse to go from title contenders to their more familiar position of fighting for a top-four spot. Three wins in 11 away matches has been a major failing although their home form has also tailed off badly. They’ve got less than 72 hours rest before this game after their regulation win over West Brom in the oddly scheduled Thursday evening fixture.
Interestingly, matches between these two managers have a history of goals. Wenger’s Arsenal have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last 11 trips to Sam Allardyce teams and have just one in their last 20 home or away against Big Sam. They’ve still won the last six of those though and their record away to bottom-half and bottom-six teams remains good. They’ve won 15 of their last 20 trips to bottom-six sides with 10 wins by more than one.
With the top-four spot not quite confirmed yet Arsenal’s minds should be fully focussed here and while Sunderland have improved under Allardyce the 1.8 on the away win is generous and has to be backed here.
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