Premier League Picks: Sunderland vs. West Ham

Nila Amerova

Thursday, March 27, 2014 6:15 PM GMT

Sunday’s clash with West Ham United is a MUST-WIN game for Sunderland with England’s top-flight survival hanging in the balance. Sports betting exchanges however set this match on a delicate line, lending value to both sides of the coin. So where is smart money?

Sunderland one of several faves for relegation
With the Premier League hurtling towards the finish line, time is quickly running out on Sunderland’s lease in top flight. In fact, ahead of week 32 Premier League betting, Sunderland are one of three top favourites for demotion, matched at -110 futures betting odds at Bet365. A price tag that is underscored by a very tough schedule ahead – Tottenham, Everton, Man City, Chelsea and Man United are all slated in the coming weeks and present matchups that will be challenging for hapless Sunderland, sat in 18th place, to extract any points from. Therefore, the upcoming clash with West Ham United, which is a winnable game for the Black Cats, is in no uncertain terms a MUST-WIN game.

Despite a spirited effort Sunderland are after a 2-1 defeat to Liverpool on their last outing, a result that marked their fourth defeat in their last five games (home and away). The only point during this frustrating stretch came at the expense of a scoreless draw to Crystal Palace. Hence, sportsbooks send the Black Cats into their date with the Hammers at soccer odds that are nestling just shy of even money at +125 to win outright at Bet365.

That said when taking a look at just their home form in recent weeks, room for optimism can be had. They are 1-2-2 in their last five home games, a record comprised of a win over Stoke City and draws to both Southampton and Crystal Palace. What’s more, Sunderland claimed a 1-0 victory over Man City at the Stadium of Light earlier this season. As well, they ran away 2-1 winners over Newcastle United in the week prior.

Heck, they even enjoyed an impressive run through League Cup, advancing at the expense of Chelsea and Manchester United before losing to Man City 3-1 in the final. But from league to competition form can turn on a dime.

Waving all those earlier accomplishments that are outdated now may seem meaningless. It might not have any bearing on this match. But it’s still worthwhile to note because it suggest that their quality belies their position in the table. In other words, they aren’t as bad as their 18th position suggests they are. They just can’t seem to get the desired or required results is all, which is what matters most in the end.

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West Ham United on the edge of safety
West Ham United are coming off a 1-0 victory over Hull City in midweek soccer betting, a result that saw them inch a spot up the table. Now in 11th place with a 9-7-15 record through 31 laps and 34 points and with just seven games left on the season, the Hammers are verging on securing their place in England’s top-flight for the coming season. Although sportsbooks are still taking trades on West Ham United’s relegation prospects, at +2000 futures betting odds it’s an absurd, long shot soccer pick.

The win snapped a three game losing streak and improved their record to 5-1-4 in their last ten – a run of form that includes a commendable scoreless draw to Chelsea and victories over Swansea City, Aston Villa, Norwich City and Southampton.

Premier League form guide puts West Ham United in eighth place with 12 points from their last six home games, seven points from their last six away games and nine points from their last six games overall. Yet, despite such auspicious form, which has them hobnobbing with some of the league’ Top Set, they enter this clash at the decided disadvantage at +230 soccer odds or thereabouts depending on your sportsbook of choice. What’s more, with the draw listed at +220 soccer odds, you could say sportsbooks are splitting hairs.

Soccer Betting Verdict: This matchup is a complete tossup in more ways than one. It’s a must-win game for the hosts if they are to have a shot at top flight next season. They have home advantage and a winnable match in a manner of speaking. But form is a question mark and confidence seems shaky, making them a risky soccer pick at +125 soccer odds.

West Ham United on the other hand bring better form to the table, confidence and top-flight security. What’s more, they are very close to finishing the season in the top ten, which provides added incentive to turn the odds in their favour.

Soccer Free Picks: West Ham United to win outright at +230