Super Sunday begins with a very competitive match between Southampton and Leicester (which SBO has covered here), but the latter two games in the day could barely be more one-sided. Premier League leaders Chelsea welcome third-bottom Hull City to Stamford Bridge, while Arsenal host Burnley at the Emirates.
Antonio Conte has developed his Chelsea side into a potent force, and although Spurs brought their winning run to an end two games ago, the Pensioners responded in perfect fashion by beating Peterborough 4-1 in the FA Cup, and Leicester 3-0 back in the Premier League. Two wins for new Hull boss Marco Silva against Swansea in the FA Cup and Bournemouth in the league may have given hope, but he warned in early January that City would need to strengthen to pull off the “miracle” of staying up. That doesn’t look likely after key midfielder Jake Livermore was sold to West Brom this week, and rumours continue to circulate over the future of Scottish international Robert Snodgrass.
Arsenal occupy 4th position in the Premier League (no jokes, please!), but that is seen as the bare minimum for the North London club. Although an eight-point gap to leaders Chelsea may be difficult to bridge, the Gunners can’t be written off as title contenders just yet. Putting the ‘lesser’ Premier League teams to the sword at the Emirates stadium is a regular occurrence, and it’s against the ‘top’ sides that Arsenal have traditionally struggled. Burnley fans might contest which group their team falls into since they occupy 10th place in the table, but their recent run of results have come at home versus bottom half teams. The Clarets away record is the worst in the division with 8 defeats and one draw from nine matches, and just three goals scored on their travels.
Arsenal v Burnley
There is a strong case for backing Arsenal to win and under 3.5 goals, a combination that pays +120 with BoyleSports.
The Gunners have kept clean sheets in their last two home games – victories over West Brom and Crystal Palace – and it would be no great surprise if they kept goal-shy Burnley at bay. It’s been seven wins in ten Emirates games for Arsenal this season, including the last four in a row, but it’s somewhat unappealing to back them at a best price of -455 . Four of Arsenal’s ten home games have exceeded the over 3.5 goal line, but the opposition has scored in each of those, and the Gunners are yet to notch four of their own on home soil this season.
On the assumption that Burnley are unlikely to score but will put up plenty of resistance, this may be another typical grounding down of a defensive side which Arsenal have become accustomed to. That’s not to do the Clarets a disservice. Sean Dyche continues to enhance his reputation as a bright young manager, and with his team 10th in the table and ten points above the drop zone, Premier League survival is well within reach.
Burnley may have lost all but one of their league away games, but they’ve only conceded four goals on one occasion – at West Brom. They lost 3-0 at Chelsea, but held Manchester United to a 0-0 draw, and only went down by a single goal in 2-1 defeats at Manchester City and Spurs. Clean sheets against Sunderland and Southampton will give them hope of shutting out Wenger’s assorted talents, and an organised, disciplined display is expected.
Arsenal should have enough quality to break the Clarets down in the end, but they may have to huff and puff their way to a slender victory against a team that won’t give an inch.
Chelsea v Hull
Chelsea are equally poor odds for a straight victory, with the best prices on offer around the -500 mark, so we’ll opt for the Blues to cover the -1.5 Asian Handicap at -175 with 888Sport.
Chelsea remain top of the table despite that recent defeat at Spurs, and the gap is still a healthy seven points to joint-second Spurs and Liverpool. These are the sort of games that Champions saunter to victory in, and Chelsea have been ruthlessly efficient for much of this season. They’ve won the last eight at Stamford Bridge, and only twice failed to win by two or more clear goals. They were 1-0 and 2-1 wins over West Brom and Spurs, but in other games they’ve hit four past Manchester United and five past Everton.
Hull’s season was never going to rest on results against the league leaders, and that 3-1 win over Bournemouth last weekend has drawn them level with 17th placed Crystal Palace and given fresh hope for survival. However, teams don’t stay in the Premier League for very long if they sell their best players, and the departure of Jake Livermore is a huge blow. If Robert Snodgrass does follow him out of the door during the January window, it’s difficult to see Hull retaining their Premier League status for another year.
The Tigers have lost nine of the last ten away matches – the only victory at Bristol City in the EFL Cup – and six of those nine defeats have been by at least two goals. The return of Abel Hernandez has been a big boost, with the striker notching three goals in two games since coming back from injury. Even if Hull do find themselves on the scoresheet though, one wouldn’t put it past Chelsea hitting three or four in a game that they will likely dominate from start to finish.
Arsenal to Win & Under 3.5 Goals
Sunday 22nd January, 14:15 GMT
Chelsea -1.5 to beat Hull
Sunday 22nd January, 16:30 GMT