The traditional Boxing Day football throws up some fascinating fixtures this year, and here we will preview them all and try and give you some tips to increase your festive funds.
At Goodison Park, Everton host Wigan. The Toffees have enjoyed a terrific first half of the Premier League season and are unbeaten at home with four wins and four draws and so are strong favourites to win this game at 8/15 (BetVictor, Paddy Power, StanJames).
The Latics put up an encouraging performance last weekend in a narrow 1-0 defeat at home to Arsenal, but find themselves in the relegation zone in 18th position. Their away form is not the best, so you’d have to put this one down as a home win.
Leon Osman had a goal chalked off at West Ham on Saturday. He’s a midfielder with a keen eye for goal and I think he may be due one which actually counts, at 12/1 to open the scoring (Coral, Ladbrokes), that looks decent value.
Fulham v Southampton is an interesting clash. The Cottagers are in the middle of a shocking run of form which has seen them win just one in their last 10 games, and they come into this off the back of a 4-0 thumping at Liverpool at the weekend. Saints are scrapping for their lives and will be looking at this game as one they could get something out of.
I can see this being a low scoring tight affair, and the bet I’d go with would be under 2.5 goals at 6/5 (32Red).
Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United invite Newcastle United to Old Trafford. After his ‘near death experience’ on Sunday at Swansea, Robin van Persie should be OK to take his place in the United team. He didn’t play great at the Liberty Stadium, so I expect him and Wayne Rooney to up their games here and get themselves a goal or two against an injury hit Toon, assuming they both play.
van Persie can be backed at 3/1 (Bet365) to open the scoring and Ladbrokes offer Evens on Wayne Rooney to find the net anytime in what should be a comfortable win for the Red Devils at 2/7 (BetVictor).
After thrashing Aston Villa 8-0, Chelsea travel to Norwich. They’ll be looking to continue that sort of form at Carrow Road but the Canaries have been very good of late. They were unlucky to lose at West Brom on Saturday which ended a 10-match unbeaten run in the Premier League.
It should be a good game. If Chelsea play as they did against Villa, they will win comfortably. But it is very difficult to do in successive games. Norwich at home have been strong and have already defeated Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United on home soil this season. I do fancy Chelsea to win at 4/6 (Paddy Power) but I feel Norwich at 5/1 (SkyBet, William Hill) is very generous considering their home success so far.
Queens Park Rangers play West Brom at Loftus Road looking to recover from their first loss under Harry Redknapp. Rangers were beaten at Newcastle, but if they have ambitions of remaining a Premier League side, they have to be picking up wins at home.
The Baggies had been going through a sticky patch but got their first win in five attempts at the weekend against Norwich. The onus will be on QPR to take three points from this game and I think they will at 11/8 (StanJames).
Bottom of the table Reading face Swansea City at the Madejski Stadium. Seven defeats on the bounce for the Royals means that it’s looking ever less likely that they will survive in the top flight.
The Swans are doing just fine under Michael Laudrup and picked up a very good point at home to Manchester United on Sunday. The home side have to get wins and soon if they want to remain a Premier League side, but I don’t think they’ll have enough to beat Swansea. My money would be on the draw at 5/2 (BetVictor).
Champions Manchester City travel to Sunderland on the back of an injury time win at home to Reading. They were a little lucky to get three points there and have not been at the top of their game so far this season.
The Black Cats have a good home record against City. They’re unbeaten in City’s last three visits to the Stadium of Light with two wins under their belts and their form has picked up of late. They’re a massive 13/2 (William Hill) for the win, and at home, with their recent record against City, that would tempt me.
There are two televised games on Boxing Day. The first takes place at Villa Park where the home team will be looking to recover from that 8-0 demolition by Chelsea when they take on Spurs.
Tottenham sit in 6th position in the table but haven’t particularly impressed me too much. They played out a bore draw with Stoke on Saturday and haven’t played with the same flair as they have done over recent years. That said, now might be a good time to play Villa. They have a young team who will have been hit hard by the 8-0 defeat so it’s a good chance for Spurs to take the three points at 11/10 (Paddy Power).
The final game of Boxing Day is at the Britannia Stadium where Stoke play Liverpool. Stoke are unbeaten at home and are just the kind of side that tend to do damage to the Reds.
Yet Liverpool are favourites with the bookmakers at 11/8 (StanJames). I don’t see the Merseysiders winning here, Stoke are a big price to win at 13/5 (32Red) but I sense a draw coming from this fixture which is available at 23/10 (Coral).