Beat the post-Christmas Blues!
The best way to avoid a post-Christmas come down is to throw yourself into sport, and there’s good news to report. With wall-to-wall Premier League action on your TV screens over the festive period, there’s plenty to keep you interested…
The lunchtime kick off on Boxing Day often throws up odd results.
Having played at midday on a full stomach myself, I know how easy it can be to pay the price for over indulging on the 25th. Keep your eyes peeled for players that look like they went back for seconds on the Brussels sprouts, or took on a large slice of Christmas pudding!
Watford vs Crystal Palace
Watford host Crystal Palace in the early game, and even though they’ve lost their last two, I like the Eagles chances.
Why? No it’s not just because they have parted ways with Alan Pardew, who has had a rotten run of results this year.
It’s more a case of the Hornets struggling in the air all season, conceding ten headed goals (the most in the PL) and that plays into the hands of the South London side.
There’s a price boost available on goalscorer bets for televised games, so I’ll be looking towards the giant Christian Benteke at 19/10 to score anytime, or for more value in-form midfielder James McArthur is a decent shout at 13/2. His well-timed runs into box have helped him notch five times this term.
Manchester City vs Hull City
You won’t get rich backing Manchester City at 1/3 to win at struggling Hull City later on in the day, but even at 15/2 I won’t be siding with the hosts either. It feels like a nailed on away win.
It may be more fun to predict the number of goals Pep Guardiola’s men will plunder against a Tigers outfit that’s down on its luck. They played well against Spurs and West Ham, but collected absolutely nothing for their troubles.
Boosted by that success at home to Arsenal, and with Chelsea sailing serenely on in the distance, I don’t envisage Pep Guardiola making wholesale alterations. It would be barmy to tinker with a formula that’s helped them bounce back from that horror show at the King Power.
Maybe a double on City to score over 2.5 goals at 28/25, coupled with a cheeky punt on 0-3 (8/1) is the kind of gamble to get the juices flowing.
Impressed by Kevin de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Yaya Toure and Leroy Sane in recent outings, I can only see one outcome.
Liverpool vs Stoke City
Liverpool and Stoke City take centre stage on December 27 in what looks another home certainty, but it may be prudent not to get too swept away by Klopp Mania. The Potters did break a 57-year-old Anfield hoodoo to win 1-0 in last season’s League Cup. An unlikely repeat is on offer at 25/1.
While that’s a long shot, the form-book tells a different story. In their last 12 fixtures Mark Hughes’ men have only conceded more than one goal twice, so expecting a hatful might be wishful thinking.
We know how rampant the Reds can be in front of their own fans, but a total of Under 2.5 goals at 31/20 will appeal to shrewd punters.
Roberto Firmino stands out as a first or last goalscorer choice. The Brazilian has been fabulous this season, but under the radar he’s now gone six games without a goal, his most barren run for a year.
Given how well he’s playing I don’t imagine that run extending too much further. Firmino is 23/5 to notch first or last against Stoke.
If it’s fairy tale returns you’re into, how about backing Klopp reject Joe Allen to remind his former employers what they’re missing? The rejuvenated Welshman is 13/2 to bag a goal in the 90 minutes.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Southampton
Spurs and Southampton must wait until December 28 to get their party started, and Mauricio Pochettino’s players will be feeling bright and breezy. The North Londoners have collected 10 points from a possible 12 at St Mary’s in the last four years. It’s their lucky away ground.
Maybe this is why they start as 31/20 favourites.
Pepped up by a great 3-1 win in the ‘South Coastico’ derby at Bournemouth, the Saints will be confident too. Marshalled by the outstanding Virgil van Dijk, they don’t concede many goals and they are 11/5 to keep a clean sheet.
A Christmas Accumulator!
If like me you feel it would be nice to recoup some of the money we’ve frittered away on Christmas presents, how about a Premier League acca?
Across these four televised fixtures my picks would be Crystal Palace, Manchester City, Liverpool and a Southampton/Tottenham draw, and that currently comes out at 16/1.
Christmas comedowns are rubbish. Let’s hope this years’ doesn’t materialise!