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Sunderland need to step up home form against Stoke

When discussing Sunderland’s chances of survival in the Premier League, much has been made of the Black Cats’ run of home games until the end of the season – the only top six side they have still to face at the Stadium of Light is Everton.

But that’s all very well as long as they actually start winning some of those games. Sunderland haven’t won a League match on their own patch since beating Manchester City on November 10th and have the joint worst home record (with Aston Villa) in the division.

Coral still rate them 11/8 chances to be relegated, despite their impressive march to the Capital One Cup Final and the general impression of improvement under manager Gus Poyet.

A victory over Stoke on Wednesday night (Coral bet 11/10 a home win, 14/5 an away win and 23/10 the draw) would be doubly welcome because it would take Sunderland out of the bottom three and to within a point of their opponents, who currently lie in 14th place.

And this is the sort of game they must surely start winning if they are going to scramble clear of the drop zone. Stoke have the joint worst away record in the Premier League (with Hull) and are far from out of danger themselves (6/1 to be relegated).

Dumping Manchester United out of the Capital One Cup and progressing to the 5th Round of the FA Cup will have done Sunderland’s confidence a power of good and they are now offering more of a threat going forward with the return to form of Adam Johnson along with impressive contributions from loanees Fabio Borini and Ki Sung-Yueng.

Aston Villa and West Brom have drawn their last four Premier League encounters and with both sides desperate not to be dragged into the relegation mire, we may well be in for another stalemate (11/5).

West Ham, now down in the bottom three and 11/8 with Coral to be still there at the end of the season, will not be relishing their trip to Chelsea, now breaking clear with Arsenal and Man City in the race for the Premier League title.

Jose Mourinho has replaced Juan Mata with Mohamed Salah from Basel. The 21-year-old Egypt international has scored three times against Chelsea in European competition and is 100/30 to immediately start balancing the books with a goal at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea, who have won five Premier League games in a row since drawing at Arsenal, are now 5/2 for the title and it is difficult to imagine them slipping up against the struggling Hammers.