WILLIE DUNCAN (@Willie_Duncan) picks out his favourite fancies from Wednesday night’s Premier League action outside of the big Stamford Bridge clash.
Arsenal v West Ham | Wednesday 19:45
It has been a miserable couple of months for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal; the Gunners have won just three of their last 10 matches – two of them against non-league opposition – and the north Londoners have collected just four points from their last six league games.
Wenger, though, will have been cheered by the determination shown by his side in securing a point against Manchester City on Sunday afternoon and Wednesday’s visit of West Ham should give the 67-year-old boss something else to smile about.
Slaven Bilic’s men are in trouble; they’ve lost each of their last four games, shipping 10 goals in the process, and now just six points separate the Hammers from the dreaded drop zone – an absurd fall from grace for a team who were knocking on the door of Champions League qualification for a long time last term.
The Hammers were winners at the Emirates on the opening weekend of last season, but the east Londoners have a rotten record in the fixture, avoiding defeat in just two of their last 13 matches against the Gunners.
Games between the teams are usually entertaining encounters, with more than two goals scored in nine of the last 10 renewals and there is enough evidence to suggest that the trend will continue here.
There have been goals at both ends in each of the Hammers’ last seven games, while each of Arsenal’s last five fixtures has produced at least four goals.
Glee for the Gunners in a high-scoring game, therefore, could be on the cards and Arsenal to win a game that features at least three goals could offer value for punters at 10/11 with Betway.
Hull v Middlesbrough | Wednesday 19:45
“Middlesbrough nil” are two words that have been heard together regularly so far this season.
And the inability to put the ball in the net is a nasty habit that Steve Agnew’s side simply must get rid of if they are to stand any chance of avoiding an immediate return to the Championship at the end of the current campaign.
A miserly return of just 20 Premier League goals so far this season tells a story – just eight of those away from home – and the team from Teesside failed to find the net for a fifth successive time on their travels in the dismal goalless draw against Swansea on Sunday.
A winless run that now stretches to a dozen top flight games, too, goes a long way to explaining the predicament that Middlesbrough find themselves in. Hull will be hoping to deepen the crisis facing Boro and Marco Silva’s side will certainly not come into this match bereft of belief.
The Tigers are unbeaten in eight home games, with their latest triumph coming by virtue of a crucial late winner against West Ham at the weekend – a result that was all the more impressive given that Hull had been behind to Andy Carroll’s goal at half-time.
Middlesbrough have only won once away from home so far this season – a 2-1 win against Sunderland that must feel like a lifetime ago for Boro backers – and it would take a significant shift in fortunes for Agnew’s side to get a positive result from their trip to KCOM Stadium.
Hull could move seven points clear of Middlesbrough with a win in this one – an advantage that would be invaluable – and possibly insurmountable – at this stage of the season.
Silva’s side are playing with a swagger and there could be value in backing Hull to deliver at home – again – on Wednesday night.
The Tigers at 5/4 (William Hill) could be a solid selection for punters ahead of Wednesday’s crucial clash at the foot of the Premier League.
Arsenal v West Ham – Arsenal to win and Over 2.5 Goals (10/11 Betway)
Hull v Middlesbrough – Hull to win (5/4 William Hill)