Hull v Sunderland
Saturday May 6 15:00
Saturday May 6 15:00
If you're going to beat the drop, then this would be the match more than any other that Marco Silva will be eyeing up for three points. And can you blame him? Sunderland have been atrocious this season and come the end of the season when they go down, will have spent a total of 261 days in the relegation zone this campaign.
This is a huge match for Hull because it's Crystal Palace up next who have gradually improved, and then a home tie against Tottenham on the final day, who might still be in contention for the title. So they need to take these three points because it's not inconceivable to think it could be the last they get this season.
They have Eldin Jakupovic to thank for being on 34 points rather than 33 - his penalty save from Dusan Tadic in a priceless 0-0 draw at Southampton last weekend may be the difference between staying up or going down.
Of their preferred starting XI, only Ryan Mason is unavailable.
I'd pinpoint two big factors behind Sunderland's horror season. One: David Moyes has struggled everywhere he's been since leaving Everton. Two: their squad simply lacks quality. Too many mediocre players who week in, week out put in average performances with no-one really taking the game by the scruff of the neck and catching the eye.
When they're relegated and players start to hand in transfer requests/activate relegation clauses, the only two who are likely to have plenty of takers are goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and striker Jermain Defoe.
It will be interesting to see whether Moyes starts to give a few fringe players a game for the last few games of the season...or sticks with the same players who failed so miserably.
The stats suggest that Hull at 1.50 are a poor value bet. They've only beaten Sunderland at home in one of their last four attempts and in none of those four, did they score more than once. Those are Opta stats.
Furthermore, Sunderland beat them the first time round this season, one of just five wins all season.
But on this occasion, those stats are pretty meaningless, in my opinion. This is a united, hard-working, well-managed Hull team and this is a poor, dispirited, uninspired Sunderland side. Add to the equation the much-talked about record of Marco Silva in not losing a home match since March 2014 and maybe that 1.50 isn't such a bad price after all.
But I think we should push the boat out a little more here.
Hull to win/Under 2.5 goals
There's no reason why Hull can't keep a clean sheet here. Sunderland's top-scorer Defoe hasn't netted in 10 matches and Hull have kept back-to-back clean sheets with that 0-0 at Southampton being preceded by a 2-0 home win against Watford.
I can't see Hull pressing forward too much should they take the lead and 1-0 or 2-0 would be my idea of a score here so I'll put all those views into one bet: back Hull/Under 2.5 goals at a far bigger 12/5 than the 1.50 on the straightforward Hull win.
Oumar Niasse is an obvious place to start if you fancy a Hull goalscorer. He's the team's main striker and has looked lively in recent weeks. But does 19/20 sound like a decent price on a player with just four goals all season, irrespective of who they're up against? Not to me.
Abel Hernandez is 11/10 but isn't guaranteed to start here. That means that if he gets 15 or 20 minutes at the end you run the risk of your bet standing and him hardly having a chance to score. So he can be crossed off, too.
Lazard Markovic actually looks the best of a bad bunch here in terms of price. Since leaving Benfica in August 2013, his career has taken a nosedive with largely unsuccessful spells at Liverpool, Sporting Lisbon and Fenerbahce. But he's finally getting plenty of game time under his belt at Hull and is looking the sharpest he has in ages. He should get in to some decent positions here, playing on the right of a front three and with two goals in his last five matches, looks a decent-value bet at 2/1.
Neil Swarbrick is in charge here, a low-profile ref who averages just under four yellows a game. AS with any match involving Sunderland, the obvious question that comes to mind is: what price Lee Cattermole to be shown a card? You should be able to get around 3.00 once the market matures.
1pt Back Hull to win/Under 2.5 goals @ 12/5 on Betfair Sportsbook
0.5pts Back Lazard Markovic to score @ 2/1 on Betfair Sportsbook
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