Keep it clean: Back Chelsea and Hammers defensive discipline
No Premier League team has kept more clean sheets than West Ham United with 12. Had Sam Allardyce’s side not failed to score in 10 top-flight outings this term, they would surely be further clear of danger as they host fellow strugglers Norwich.
Table-toppers Chelsea can boast a miserly defensive record too. Of their 11 league shut-outs this season, eight have come in the last 10. Jose Mourinho’s men have not conceded in four ahead of their trip to relegation-threatened West Bromwich Albion.
It is a different story entirely at Stoke City, however. Mark Hughes’ team have gone a dozen games in a row in all competitions without a clean sheet. Shut-outs are such a novelty for the Potters that there’s been just one in 14 and their last at home was 15 matches ago.
West Ham may have Andy Carroll banned, but successive braces by club captain Kevin Nolan have softened the blow somewhat and moved them out to 4/1 for the drop. Big Sam’s boys come into the Canaries encounter with three clean sheets in a row under their belt and are even money favourites for three points.
Coral are offering fabulous odds of 13/5 on the Hammers to keep up their strong recent record at the back against Norwich and win to nil. Like their hosts, Chris Hughton’s Canaries, who are 3/1 to win in east London and 2/1 to be relegated, have failed to net in 10 Premier League games so far this term and scored once in their last three.
Leaders Chelsea are odds-on to end a run of two straight defeats at The Hawthorns and priced at evens to shut Pepe Mel’s struggling Baggies – a 9/4 shot to go down – out. Blues captain John Terry remains on the sidelines with a slight niggle, but David Luiz ably deputised in their last outing.
Punters should avoid 15/8 on Stoke keeping a clean sheet against Swansea like the plague. As both teams have scored in each of the Potters’ last five home matches in all competitions, odds of 11/2 on a victory for Hughes but with the opposition also on target are much more attractive.
Stoke are 6/4 favourites to sink the Swans, who are 2/1 to build on their derby day delight on Garry Monk’s debut in the dugout. This is a battle of relative outsiders in the relegation market, with the Potters 7/1 and Swansea 10/1 to go down.