We’ve got a huge relegation clash to kick-off the weekend with and a win for Norwich could virtually settle things at the bottom and send both North East clubs down to the second tier. However, a Sunderland win and the gap will be down to just one point, with the Black Cats also having a game in hand to catch the Canaries.
Sunderland have been fighting hard in recent weeks but with little reward as they’d drawn four in a row before losing to the leaders last weekend. In contrast the Canaries won back to back matches before defeat at Palace last time out and the difference between the two sides this term has been Norwich’s ability to turn a couple more draws into wins, as Sunderland have actually scored one more goal while they’ve got identical defensive records.
Half of Norwich’s home games this season have had at least three goals but four of their last five here against the current bottom-half have had ‘unders’ and they’ve generally been looking to keep things tighter of late, with four of their last five matches having no more than one strike. That has come at a cost offensively as they’ve failed to score in three of those recent games and in six of 10 since the 5-4 defeat to Liverpool back in January. Overall, their form is pretty poor despite the two recent wins as they’ve lost nine of their last 13 games.
Sunderland have lost seven of their last 16 games but those defeats came against Chelsea, Man City (twice), Liverpool, Spurs, West Ham and Leicester as they’ve gone W2-D4-L0 against bottom-half opponents in that time. They’ve failed to score in their last two games though, which will be a concern, but have still found the net in 10 of their last 11 away matches. However, during the early part of that scoring run they were getting exposed defensively and, so much like Norwich, they’ve tightened up at both ends recently, with their last four games all seeing fewer than three goals.
There’s a decent argument for the Under Goals market but with Sunderland needing to chase a win goals can be increasingly unpredictable at this time of the season and so we prefer the match outcome markets. Since 2010/11 the away side has won 18 of 48 clashes between two bottom-six sides between March and the end of the season while the home team has won just 17.
With the teams so evenly matched we therefore prefer the value on Sunderland at 3.3 but we’ll take some cover on the Draw No Bet given Norwich would no doubt be happy to play for a point if they get the opportunity.
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