By Antony Jordan
Christmas Day has been and gone, but there is no rest for the teams and players of the Premier League as they’re back on the field of play for Boxing Day. There are eight matches being played around the UK and these games kick off a run of nine days of EPL football in ten days, so with so much football being played we may see players rested and some strange results but, as always, we endeavour to find the best EPL picks.
We preview all eight of the December 26th matches with online sportsbook Bet365.com.
Chelsea spent Christmas atop the Premier League six points clear of Liverpool who head the chasing pack and this has been achieved despite them winning just half of their opening six games of the season where they kept just a single clean sheet. However, following the back to back losses at home to Liverpool and away at Arsenal they settled under new manager Antonio Conte and they have won all of their last 11 matches to lead the way this festive period. They have managed to record nine clean sheets in this winning run as well, while their home league record shows five successive wins – including triumphs over Leicester, Man United and Tottenham – with 15 goals scored and just one conceded.
They were surprisingly beaten at Stamford Bridge by The Cherries last season in a 1-0 reverse, but Chelsea exacted their revenge with a 4-1 win on the south coast and this result is the one that they are both looking to and favoured to repeat. Bournemouth have lost three of their last four away games as they were beaten at Middlesbrough, Arsenal and Burnley, but they did find the net in the last two of these defeats as well as at the Bet365 Stadium when they defeated Stoke 1-0. Can they go to Stamford Bridge and do what so many others have failed to do this season and find the net though?
We do not believe so and we’re favouring a comfortable victory for the home side in this Boxing Day clash.
The late kick off on Boxing Day sees a meeting of the side propping up the Premier League table and the team sitting third behind Chelsea and Liverpool, and it is rather unsurprisingly the away team at The KC Stadium that are favoured to secure all three points in this match. This is because Hull have taken just 12 points this season – and seven of those came in their four matches of the campaign! They have since lost ten of their last 13 EPL clashes with the follow up five points coming from a win against Southampton and draws against West Brom and Crystal Palace. All of these came in their last three home matches, but can they make it four unbeaten in front of their fans this Christmas?
City have won four and drawn one of their last five meetings with The Tigers, including triumphing by two goals in the two clashes at The KC since 2010, and although Sergio Aguero serves the last of his four match ban they still deserve to be the big favourites to triumph in this game. They were beaten in their last away match as they were destroyed by Leicester in a 4-2 loss but with eight goals scored and just two conceded in matches at West Brom, Crystal Palace and Burnley before that defeat they have shown that they can see off the smaller sides in the division without much trouble. We see them having too much quality for bottom of the table Hull, even without Aguero, and cruising to a comfortable victory.
Last season saw both of these teams share the spoils with a home victory each and now Arsenal are looking to win six home matches against The Baggies and they are certainly the heavy favourites to do so with Bet365. The last five clashes between these sides at The Emirates have seen the Midlanders find the net on just one occasion, but with them sitting eighth in the table coming into this Boxing Day round of football they will be hopeful that they can find the net and perhaps even end their losing streak in this area of North London.
Arsenal may sit fourth in the league table coming into this match, but they are struggling defensively this season as they have failed to keep a clean sheet in 12 games in all competitions in a run that goes back more than two months. They have won two, drawn two and lost one of five on home soil and have not shut out any side in these matches, but with West Brom having won just one away game since August they will fancy their chances at outscoring their guests on December 26th. We can see them managing this, but with only Chelsea keeping West Brom from scoring in six away matches we see goals at The Emirates too.
Former Manchester United boss David Moyes returns to Old Trafford for this festive match looking to move his Sunderland side out of the bottom three of the league with a victory. However, with The Black Cats collecting ten of their 14 points on home soil and losing six of their eight away matches so far this season this does not look as if it’ll be a happy return for the Sunderland boss. They have failed to score in four of their last five away games and their last two visits to this ground have seen them leave without a point or a goal. Can they reverse this recent form at The Theatre of Dreams?
The away side will find it difficult as United look to be pulling together under Jose Mourinho in recent games as they come into this clash having won all of their last four matches in all competitions and they are unbeaten in ten games. They are unbeaten in 11 matches at Old Trafford and have clean sheets in five of those, including their best performance as they defeated Tottenham 1-0 here in their last match. They are certainly on the up and up so we feel that they will be the better of these two teams on the red half of Manchester by taking all three points in this clash.
The King Power Stadium hosts a meeting of two of the more inconsistent sides in the Premier League this season as the defending champions come into this match 15th in the table having shown their up and down form in recent times with a win over Man City, defeat to Bournemouth and draw with Stoke. Everton are six points and six places better off than their hosts, but their form is equally as erratic as they have lost four, drawn two and won one of their last seven clashes. Both teams would love to get all three points on the board, but can either team do so?
The Foxes triumphed home and away against The Toffees last season as they won 3-2 at Goodison Park before they followed that up with a 3-1 win on this ground in front of their own fans and with just a single defeat on home soil in 12 matches in all competitions this season they will believe that they can make it three wins in a row against Everton. With the Merseysiders having lost to Burnley, Chelsea, Southampton and Watford in their last four road trips we see the home side having the advantage in this one and we’re backing them to secure all three points against a side with one away point in six games, although we are covering ourselves due to The Foxes own poor form at times this season.
Our top tip on this Leicester v Everton match is back the home win on the Draw No Bet market at odds of 1.72 at Bet365.
The first post-Christmas EPL clash comes from Vicarage Road where these two London sides meet looking to move back into the top half of the table and put some distance between themselves and the relegation zone respectively. The home side are favoured to take all three points with Bet365 despite the fact that they were beaten on this ground by The Eagles last season and they were also eliminated at Wembley in the semi-finals of the FA Cup by the side formerly managed by Alan Pardew last season, but will these losses fire them up enough to see them claim revenge and ruin Palace’s festive period?
Neither of these two teams are in particularly good form with The Hornets having lost four of their last five matches, although they have been in much better form on home soil with four wins and one draw in their last six, and Palace have suffered eight losses in their last ten matches – which has cost Pardew his job this week. Watford certainly offer the better value on the outright markets, but with their own poor recent form we are not confident in the home win in this match. However, with them having netted 11 times in their last six home matches and Palace having conceded 14 goals in their last four away games we feel that goals at Vicarage Road this Boxing Day offers the best value.
West Ham’s recent form has shown how fine the margins are in the Premier League this season as their 2-2 draw at Liverpool and 1-0 home wins over Burnley and Hull have seen them move seven points clear of their hosts this Boxing Day and up to 13th in the EPL table rather than sitting second bottom of the league. This means that both of these sides will know how vital it is to win this match, but which way will the result go?
The Swans have in awful form this season and they have tasted victory on just two occasions in their last 16 matches in the league, but both of these wins have come in their last two home games so they will be confident coming into this clash. They won a crazy match against Crystal Palace by netting twice in injury time to triumph 5-4 before seeing off Sunderland 3-0, but can they continue to score like this?
The Hammers are averaging more than two goals conceded per game away from home in the league this season and they have managed just a single win away from The London Stadium too. They have secured respectable draws at Man United and Liverpool in their last two road trips after coming seconds away from drawing with Tottenham and coupled with their back to back home wins West Ham will believe they have turned a corner in their season. We are not so confident in this and do not feel confident in backing either side to win this match, but with the amount of goals scored and conceded by these two teams we feel that goals are likely at The Liberty Stadium this Boxing Day and we are backing this to happen.
Our best Swansea v West Ham bet is back Over 2.5 goals to be scored at odds of 1.80 with Bet365.com.
The final of the eight games playing this Boxing Day comes from Turf Moor as the sides that finished first and second in the Championship last season do battle for all three points as they look to extend the respective three and four point gaps between them and the drop zone. Just as the match odds suggest, we expect this to be a closely fought match and the three encounters between the sides last season show that this will be the case too. Both sides secured one victory each, with Burnley’s coming in the FA Cup third round, and both wins coming by a single goal. In fact the last time that a match between these two sides was separated by more than one goal was eight meetings ago when Burnley last defeated ‘Boro in the league in 2012.
The home side will struggle to end this winless streak in the league against ‘Boro as well as they have lost five of their last six matches and they will need to bounce back from some awful away form if they are to win this one. They have won three of their last four at Turf Moor, while only Arsenal and Man City have won here since the opening round of matches, so they will be confident of playing on this ground and this will be boosted by the fact that Middlesbrough have failed to win any of their last seven away games this season.
However, with them drawing five of these seven matches in this winless run we feel that the closeness of results between them and Burnley will continue this festive period and we are backing both sides to share the spoils at Turf Moor.
We’ve picked our top three picks from the eight Boxing Day clashes that we feel are going to be the top Christmas gifts this festive period and will provide you with the best way to secure some extra cash for the Boxing Day sales!
- Man City -1 v Hull @ 1.83 – Despite their fine start to the season, everything that could have gone wrong for Hull this season has done so and with them welcoming a Man City side that has easily beaten them for so long we cannot see anything but an easy win for The Citizens, despite them missing the talismanic Sergio Aguero.
- Over 2.5 goals in Watford v Crystal Palace @ 2.00 – Both of these sides are scoring and conceding goals this season – with Palace leaking goals so badly that it appears they are without a defence at times! – and the value is certainly on goals at Vicarage Road this Boxing Day.
- Over 2.5 goals in Swansea v West Ham @ 1.80 – The Swans have netted eight and conceded four in their last two home games, while West Ham have conceded 17 goals in eight away games this season. Both sides have to win and we feel that all of this combined with certainly produce goals at The Liberty Stadium.