by Dan Roebuck
Out With The Old In With The New.
The turn of the year always prompts reflection, and for punters it’s no different. Whether they’re celebrating a profitable year or ruing a short-priced favourite that let down a well-crafted accumulator for a sizeable win, this is the time that their hopes focus on becoming a shrewder bettor.
So, as the Premier League campaign reaches its halfway stage, let’s say farewell to 2016 and welcome in the New Year with some value picks on four televised games.
Hull vs Everton
The party frocks won’t even have been ironed as Everton don their luminous yellow third kit for a cross-Pennine jaunt to Hull City on the 30th of December.
At 15/4, Mike Phelan’s side are the outsiders of three, and given their position in the relegation zone it’s hardly surprising. Everton, who trade at 77/100, have lost only one of their last 10 away top flight fixtures against promoted sides, but have managed just three wins, suggesting the draw could be the best bet at 5/2.
Ahead of the Boxing Day programme, no team had conceded the first goal in a Premier League game this term as often as the Tigers, but Ronald Koeman’s men’s sluggishness from kick-off – just two first half goals in their last dozen games prior to their trip to Leicester City on the 26th – tempers a punt on the Toffees to be leading at half-time. Instead, back ‘No’, at 43/50, in the ‘goal in both halves’ market.
For First Goalscorer punters, Romelu Lukaku is the obvious choice, but only three of his nine league goals this term have broken the deadlock. The hosts’ Robert Snodgrass can boast a much better strike rate of three from the six he’s netted in all competitions. Furthermore, the Scot is on penalty taking duty, so be sure to check out his odds via the Grosvenor Casinos’ Sportsbook.
Liverpool vs Man City
After a short journey down the East Lancs Road from Anfield, Sky Blues fans should arrive back in Manchester city centre just in time to flood the Northern Quarter to bring in the New Year. However, I don’t see them celebrating, as Liverpool look a terrific bet at 7/5 to take all three points in this top four clash on Merseyside.
Naturally, they’ll be a huge focus on Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. The two have gone toe to toe on the touchline on eight previous occasions with honours even at four wins apiece. Interestingly, there’s been no draws, an outcome offered at 12/5 this time around, while six of those eight games have failed to see both teams score – something that smacks of value at 29/20.
City have won only two of their last 10 games against fellow top six clubs, and Arsene Wenger will tell you that statistic should be even worse, as he believes (like many) his Arsenal side were only denied at the Etihad earlier this month due to two offside goals. Liverpool have beaten the Gunners and Chelsea away from home this term and are undefeated in front of the Kop in all competitions since January.
The Sportsbook will have first goalscorer prices available after the Boxing Day action, with Sadio Mane, who hit a hat-trick for Southampton against Manchester City last term and whose eight league goals this season include four openers, my fancy to score.
Watford vs Tottenham
Nothing cures a hangover quicker than a nice price double, and while punters might have to nurse their previous evening’s over-indulgence until late afternoon, trust me, it will be worth it, as North London duo Tottenham and Arsenal will come to your aid in two all-capital clashes on New Year’s Day.
First up, if you’re compos mentis by 1.30pm, is Spurs’ trip to Watford. You have to go back to May 1987 for the last time the Hornets won this fixture in the league – hence the home team chalked up at 7/2 – and, while Walter Mazzarri’s men have done enough to stand in relative mid-table safety so far this campaign, four defeats in their last five games prior to Boxing Day is nothing to brag about.
Tottenham’s price of 39/50 is short, but justifiable, and although Toby Alderweireld’s recent return after injury wasn’t enough to prevent the Lillywhites losing at Manchester United, the fact that Spurs’ win percentage this season drops from 58% to 38% when the Belgian doesn’t play, speaks volumes of the importance of the former Ajax defender.
Still, Mauricio Pochettino’s team have won to nil (priced up at 19/10 here) only once in the league this term away from home at time of writing, and the fact that both teams have scored in seven of nine games at Vicarage Road in the current campaign, up to but not including Watford’s fixture with Crystal Palace, makes me believe the 9/10 about both sides netting in this fixture is one of the standout bets of the day.
Arsenal vs Crystal Palace
Slipped into Alan Pardew’s Christmas Card was his P45, but whoever is in charge of Crystal Palace for their trip to Arsenal will return South of the River with nothing, as the home club are nailed on to down the Eagles at 4pm. At 31/100 for the three points, the Gunners are short, but the stats suggest those odds are still value, as they have won 29 of their last 37 home games against teams in the bottom six in the league since the start of the 2011/12 season at average odds of 28/100.
Outside of the double with Spurs in the match betting, the call here is to play the draw-home combination in the half time/full time market. At 13/4, it looks another cracking play given the hosts have been held at the break before winning on 14 occasions in those 37 fixtures.
When the full-time whistle is blown at the Emirates, we’ll know if the New Year has gotten off to a positive start. Here’s looking forward to a lucrative 2017!
Image credit: Wikimedia (Creative Commons – Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0))