Back Sunderland to shade it against Stoke in a low-scoring affair

6May 2013

England - Premier League


Betfair's Luke Moore casts his eye across Stoke City's visit to Sunderland on Monday night...


What a difference a week makes. Just 9 days after Paolo Di Canio followed up a famous win over local rivals Newcastle with a 1-0 defeat of Everton, his Sunderland side  find themselves right back in the mix for relegation after a disastrous humbling by (at the time) relegation rivals Aston Villa. A 6-1 defeat to Paul Lambert's  resurgent young team means Di Canio must remove the tails from between his players' legs post-haste and get them focused on a visit from Stoke who were themselves in  trouble a few short weeks ago before wins over QPR and Norwich put some much needed distance between them and the drop.


And what of their opponents? Stoke face something of an existential mini-crisis in the coming months, as patience with Tony Pulis' free-spending and agricultural  football methods starts to wear thin. What do they want to be as a team? Are they happy to finish mid-table every single season while playing unattractive football and  being (fairly or unfairly, depending on who you ask) portrayed as the bad guy bully boys of the division, yet at the same time be considered an established Premier  League outfit? Or would fans prefer to twist, thank Pulis for all his work and make a move for a more interesting, progressive manager who can perhaps take them on  another stage and knock on the door of European football.


The old adage is that fans will tolerate a certain type of football provided it delivers results, and the moment the team's performances drop off, fans will turn on  the manager much quicker than if his team were knocking it about all day, a la Wigan. This has proven to be the case at the Britannia. The club's management can make  reference to the job that has been done to get Stoke to where they are, but like it or not, there is dissent among the ticket-buying public.


It's tempting to suggest that a kick on towards European football would cost Stoke untold riches that they can ill-afford, but in the last three seasons of Tony Pulis'  tenure they've spent almost £46m anyway and have no real superstars to show for it. Would a more progressive, creative manager have used that money better and given  fans more entertainment for their buck? What's more, with the extra TV cash making its way into clubs' coffers from this summer it's likely that Stoke will have more  money to spend regardless. Maybe a picture of a Spitfire and a firm handshake is the next thing the combative Welshman should be offered, freeing up the Potters to  further improve their team both aesthetically and competitively.


Whatever way that pendulum swings Pulis still has a job to do for now, and a trip to Sunderland is next on the agenda. Paolo Di Canio will have been horrified by his  side's lacklustre, off-the-pace showing at Villa Park and knows he simply must get a reaction from his team if they are to continue to dine at the top table next year.  He will have also seen plenty to suggest that the Black Cats can get some sort of result on Monday; despite the two wins that have practically seen them safe, Stoke  have been largely woeful for quite a long time now - winning just once aside from that since Boxing Day and added complacency knowing they're all but safe could creep  into their game.


There's no getting away from the fact that Stoke are dreadful away from home, having picked up just 12 points all season. Di Canio's rhetoric and passion is likely to  inspire the Mackems turn the Stadium of Light into a raging cauldron on Monday night and with Stoke all but safe and with nothing much to play for it's hard to look  beyond a home win. I'm tempted to back unders as well; Sunderland don't score many at home and Stoke have notched just 11 times away all season. It's currently trading  at 1.65, which seems just about fair.


Recommended Bet

Back Sunderland to beat Stoke at 2.16

Back Under 2.5 Goals at 1.65



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Keywords: Sunderland, Stoke

Source: Betfair

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