Just three days after their narrow defeat at the hands of Arsenal in the FA Cup, Swansea City turn their attention to the Premier League and the visit of Stoke City to the Liberty Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Swans enter the match having enjoyed a reasonably encouraging run of results, with Wednesday’s 1-0 reverse at the Emirates the first game they have lost in all competitions since December 16th, a streak that lasted seven games.
This sequence included five draws, something that has become a feature of the Welsh side’s season as they have now had nine stalemates in total in the league, six of which have come at home, perhaps a result of opposition teams defending deep to counteract the threat of their short passing style and nippy wingers.
Unfortunately for the Swans, the visitors to South Wales this weekend are the side best equipped to sit deep and defend against technically superior opposition in England.
Until recently, Stoke had the tightest defence in the Premier League, but 3-0 and 4-0 defeats to Man City and Chelsea respectively in the past two games have pushed them down to third in the list of top defensive teams and they have also recorded the greatest numbers of draws in the league – exactly half of their 22 matches.
With both sides so adept at drawing, it’s no wonder that the odds on the game ending all square at 23/10 are shorter than a Stoke win at 12/5.
Despite their tendency for a draw in front of their own fans, Swansea are priced as 11/10 favourites in bwin’s 3-way betting market and a look at Stoke’s away record will tell you why.
The side from the Potteries have managed just one solitary win on their travels, at West Brom, and have scored a measly seven goals in 11 games, with only West Ham having a worse strike rate away from home.
For this reason, the away side are heavily backed to score under 1.5 goals at 3/10 and rather longer odds of 11/5 are being offered on over 1.5.
In fact, Stoke have failed to get on the scoresheet in each of their previous four away league games, so you could go even further and reasonably confidently bet that they will not score at all at a price of 31/20.
It seems, then, that with two such draw-happy teams on show in Wales, you would be foolish to not put some money on a stalemate of some sort.
Punters registering with bwin today can claim a free £20 bet and placing this on Swansea and Stoke to draw would return a cool £66 if successful.
That’s where the bulk of my money will be going, but I will also have a small go on 0-0 at 27/4 and 1-1 at 5/1.
These scorelines seem the most likely as they account for 16 of the 44 league results that both Swansea and Stoke have recorded during the campaign.
Top bet: Swansea and Stoke to draw @ 23/10