Mid-table six-pointer at the Stadium of Light
Plenty of games get dubbed as relegation or title chasing six-pointers but for once, we can sit back and enjoy a game between two teams that both sit comfortably mid-table. Although Sunderland and Stoke both sit within reach of the relegation zone, I think it's fair to say they both have more quality than the teams below them and will both finish in mid-table obscurity come the end of the season.
I can see Sunderland edging this match, although they sit one place below their opponents, they have a decent home record and Stoke have just one away win all season.
The 11/10 on Sunderland would have been unheard of a few months ago as Steve Bruce got off to an impressive start to his tenure. However, things have gone downhill since then and they have won only one of their last 13 Premier League games. They are due a win though and a change in form.
Stoke are 13/5 and I wouldn't really touch them at that price considering they have only won once away all season, although it was at White Hart Lane. They appear more likely to head to Sunderland with a smash and grab strategy aimed at getting the draw, a fair priced 9/4. They aren't on amazing form overall with just one win in their last eight games home and away.
Sunderland are a bit short at the back with Phil Bardsley, Anton Ferdinand, Nyron Nosworthy and Michael turner sidelined. Lee Cattermole and Kieran Richardson still aren't fit so they are looking thin on numbers. Darren Bent has 14 league goals to his name this season and is 9/2 to get the first goal in this match.
Stoke, in contrast, have a clean bill of health and Tony Pulis will hope they can at least get a goal after failing in their last four away games. Ricardo Fuller bagged a brace in the cup victory over Arsenal and you can get 12/1 on him to recreate that, although 2/1 on anytime might be a bit more likely.
Sunderland concede a fair few at home with 18 in their last six games - so the 4/5 on both teams to score looks good as I think they will win - it will be tight and I think 2-1 is the best shout and at 13/2 it's got to be worth a punt.
Stoke bag 63% of their goals in the first half, more than any other team in the Premier League. For this to continue and Stoke's first goal to come in the first half you can get 8/5. If Stoke do score first then it's not beyond the realms of possibility for the double result to be Stoke/Sunderland and at 28/1, your risk /reward ratio is very good.
Both teams aren't in great form and I do see the game being tight, with Sunderland's home fans the key to victory. This said, my money will be going on a Sunderland win and under 2.5 goals at 16/5