Daniel McCulloch (@danmcc84) takes a view on the Arsenal v Stoke game this Sunday afternoon.
Arsenal v Stoke | Sunday 1st April 2018, 13:30 | Sky Sports
Arsenal entertain Stoke at lunch time on Sunday, in a game that Paul Lambert's side need to take something from. The Potters are three points from safety, have played a game more than some clubs around them and have the worst goal difference in the league.
Unfortunately, I cannot make a case for them taking anything from The Emirates this weekend. Arsenal's woes against sides above them in the league table has been well documented, but this season's home record against sides from seventh downwards is blemish-free.
They have won all ten matches played and by an aggregate score of 31-6.
I went back to the start of the 2014 to try to get a bigger sample size and their record is still very impressive, winning 43 of 52 such matches. Across the same time period, Stoke have managed to avoid defeat just six times in 22 away games to members of the ‘Big Six'.
It's also fair to say that the Stoke sides of previous seasons are better than this one, so whilst I try to avoid heavy odds-on shots myself, I believe the 1/3 for a home victory is fair.
Having won his first game after taking over from Mark Hughes, Paul Lambert has since failed to get three points from any of his next seven fixtures. The Scotsman has improved Stoke defensively – they have conceded just eight goals in his eight games – but they have only netted six times themselves so it's clear where their problems lie.
I watched Stoke at home to Manchester City and despite conceding early on, they did not open up at all and almost seemed to accept a two goal defeat. I expect a similarly defensive approach from the visitors, who will attempt to remain in the game before trying to get something late on.
As their record suggests, Arsenal are adept at breaking down such sides but I do not expect a goalfest here. Going back to the start of the 2014/15 season, 29 of Arsenal's 52 games at home to sides outside of the top six have seen them win but fewer than 3.5 goals to be scored. I therefore feel that the 7/5 BetVictor are offering on an Arsenal victory and under 3.5 goals to be scored is the way to go.
Additionally, 17 of their 52 matches in this time period have finished either 2-0 or 2-1 so the 16/5 the same firm are offering on the game to finish by either of these two scorelines represents excellent value. All three of Stoke' s defeat under Lambert have also finished in this manner.
The 2/5 on Stoke to be relegated may seem a little skinny but it's hard to make a case for them surviving and even harder to believe they will add to their tally of 27 points this weekend.