Sunderland v Bournemouth
Saturday 29 April, 15:00
Saturday 29 April, 15:00
Sunderland fans have probably long since had enough and confirmation of relegation may actually come as a relief.
In fact, it could happen this weekend. A Black Cats loss along with a Swansea win and a Hull draw condemns them. Even if those three results don't play out, no-one is believing in the concept of pig flight.
So just how bad are Sunderland?
Well, they don't lose 5-0 every week but one win in 18 matches is pretty horrendous. That run includes 12 defeats while a more recent thermometer-check shows four losses in the last five.
David Moyes is trying to put a brave face on it but the results speak for themselves. Even Jermain Defoe has stopped scoring (none in his last nine games) and without his goals, all hope dies.
It's 350 miles from Bournemouth to Sunderland if you're driving by car but the long journey may well prove worth it for those travelling up from the south coast.
If results go their way this weekend, the Cherries could end the weekend in 9th spot and, of course, there are millions to be had in prize money the higher up the table you finish.
Journeys north have been fairly rewarding for Bournemouth fans of late after draws at Liverpool and Manchester United since the start of March although the tally of two away wins is a concern. Then again, they won't have played anyone as bad as Sunderland.
Eddie Howe's men go into the game on the back of a resounding 4-0 win over another ailing north-east club, Middlesbrough, so it's an obvious opportunity to make it back-to-back victories for just the second time this season.
The other came only last month so in their last seven Premier League games, Bournemouth have won three, drawn two and lost two.
It's 3.10 that Sunderland record just their sixth win of the season and fourth at the Stadium of Light.
Bournemouth are 2.40 but I'd want more than that on a side who haven't won any of their last eight away games.
The visitors were on a run of three straight away draws before being tonked 4-0 at White Hart Lane but there's no shame in that as Tottenham have been routinely racking up convincing wins at home.
A draw (Sunderland have five at home) on Saturday is 3.65.
Looking at head-to-heads, Sunderland have lost just one of their last nine against Bournemouth but I'm not sure how relevant that is.
However, it does include a 2-1 win at the Goldsands earlier this year which sparked a run of four Sunderland wins in seven matches. Those were the days.
Both Teams To Score
'No' is 2.56 and that has to be the play for me.
With Defoe suffering a drought, Sunderland don't score goals. They've fired blanks in 10 of their last 12 games and netted in just one of their last six at home.
I'd be happy enough for those odds on just a Sunderland shutout.
However, we get Bournemouth thrown in too.
They do net a few but the Cherries have failed to find the net in two of their last three away games and Sunderland aren't hopeless at the back against poor travellers as shown by last month's 0-0 home draw with Burnley.
Both teams to score, incidentally, is 1.60.
If there is to be a goal, the most likely scorer isn't Defoe, it's Bournemouth's Josh King.
The former Man Utd trainee has been one of the top-flight's most prolific marksmen since the turn of the year, netting 11 goals in 14 starts.
That includes three in his last four while he's registered in six of his last eight away matches.
A King goal 2.28 or a clean sheet on either side will turn us a profit overall and, of course, both bets could land.
Stuart Attwell gets the posting to the north-east. He can be boom or bust. The majority of his games show four yellows or fewer but twice this season he's shown more than one red in a match, although both were further down the ladder.
Of late, he's been very calm and booked just 13 players in his last six games.
He's shown just three yellows to Sunderland players in the three matches he's taken charge of them but perhaps that's more a reflection of the Black Cats' lack of fight.
Josh King (14 goals) needs just one more goal to become only the second Norwegian player in Premier League history to reach 15 goals in a single Premier League season after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (18 goals in 1996-97 and 17 goals in 2001-02).
Back 'No' in Both teams to Score at 2.56
Back Josh King To Score at 2.28
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