ACTING chief Will Dyer (@w2Dyer) runs the rule over Wednesday night's Premier League card, picking out his three favourite selections in Chris Graham's absence.
Sunderland v Chelsea | Wednesday 19:45
Sunderland were trending in the right direction with wins over Leicester, Hull and Bournemouth but that 3-0 defeat at Swansea has kind of confirmed to us all that relegation is a very likely outcome for the Wearsiders.
To make matters worse, Black Cat regulars Duncan Watmore, Didier Ndong, Paddy McNair and Jack Rodwell are all unavailable for this extremely tough match against a Chelsea side that have won an immense nine Premier League matches on the bounce.
Bet365 go 16/1 that Chelsea win all of their next six matches to break Arsenal’s record of 14 consecutive Premier League wins and I believe it’s very much a possibility when you look at the fixtures. The only really tough match being a date with Spurs at White Hart Lane on the 4 January.
Antonio Conte’s men overcame a different type of challenge at the weekend when beating West Brom. Chances were few and far between all game but the ever-tenacious Diego Costa forced a mistake out of the Albion defence as punished them with aplomb.
It’s easy to say that we expected Chelsea to rise to the top again this season in the same way that it’s easy to say that Leicester would be more likely to be relegated than retain the title but I do think this Chelsea resurgence was quite predictable.
The managerial appointment was a match made in heaven and the quality of players at the Bridge was never in doubt.
The Blues have the joint-best defence in the league and are up against the second worst attack. Jermain Defoe has eight of Sunderland’s 14 league goals this season and if he is kept as quiet as I expect he will be with Conte’s brilliant defensive mind then the only logical result is an away win ‘to nil’.
Seven of Chelsea’s nine consecutive wins have also seen them keep a clean sheet and, at 13/10 with Betvictor, it’s a no-brainer up against this level of opposition.
Manchester City v Watford | Wednesday 19:45
I’ll get straight to the point with this one and, for me, it’s a real anomaly to highlight here.
Manchester City have kept just one clean sheet in their last 10 home Premier League games and so a match against a Watford side that have been scoring freely again this season it, even-money on Both Teams To Score seems an odd valuation.
The Hornets have scored in 12 of their 15 league outings in 2016/17 and now have Stefano Okaka joining the scoring charts after last weekend’s brace against Everton.
Watford are sitting pretty in ninth and they’ll see the Citizens as ripe for the picking after Leicester smashed four past them on Saturday evening.
The absence of Fernandinho from the midfield is a big loss for Pep Guardiola; couple that loss of defensive cover with the fact that Troy Deeney is the type of tireless player that will force mistakes out of haphazard centre-halves like Nicolas Otamendi and I think you have a recipe for goals.
Deeney’s supporting cast is also proving pretty frightful of late. Roberto Pereyra is arguably one of the most talented players ever to wear the Watford shirt and Etienne Capoue and Nordin Amrabat have had brilliant seasons to date.
Of course going forward, City will still be the dominant force and even without Sergio Aguero you’d fancy them to bag against the Hornets who have the worst defensive record in the top-12.
The best bet here is therefore certainly both teams to score at 1/1 with Betfair, an absolute steal.
West Brom v Swansea | Wednesday 20:00
The Baggies have caught my attention in recent weeks. Sure they’re still not playing anything like possession football but they are creating gilt-edged chances through some exciting wing play and the midfield is producing goals.
At The Hawthorns they have a W3-D2-L2 record which is strong when you consider the opposition they’ve played; defeats have only come at the hands of Manchester City and Everton.
They held Spurs to a 1-1 draw and their three other most recent outings in the West Midlands have produced wins against Watford, Burnley and West Ham, all by a margin of two or more goals.
At the moment I would put Swansea in the same category as those three teams that West Brom have breezed past. The Swans made mincemeat of Sunderland at the weekend but scoring past this Tony Pulis side is not at all easy, something I’m sure Antonio Conte would reiterate.
The Baggies other recent victory was recorded over Leicester who’ve just gone and put four past Manchester City.
As much as Leicester have struggled to defend their title, winning 2-1 at the King Power is still a far from easy task and I commend West Brom for that victory which was wholeheartedly deserved, something we don’t usually say about an Albion win.
Swansea City have lost nine of their 15 Premier League matches so far this season. The transition under Bob Bradley has begun to bear fruit with wins over Crystal Palace and Sunderland but those are two sides also in the bottom six and if we include the 5-0 defeat at White Hart Lane it’s still nine goals conceded in three matches.
The best bet from this tussle has to be West Brom to win at 11/10 with Betfair. I’m surprised to see them at odds-against based upon this season’s form and expect Swansea to be in this relegation battle for the long-haul.