Stoke City v Manchester United
Well ho, ho f*cking ho! It’s only the festive season. I genuinely hope this year passes off with a bit less incident than last Christmas, when I got one of them Dyson Ball Cleaners off my better half. Unfortunately I was five lagers deep when I opened the gift and misunderstood the name, meaning I spent the remainder of Christmas Day in A&E. Stoke have beaten Manchester City and Chelsea at home in recent weeks so I’m stunned why they are as big as 12/5 to beat a United side who have lost their last three (and failed to win any of their last six). The knives are out for LVG, and I for one would be surprised to see him still sat in the Old Trafford dugout in mid-January.
Betting: Stoke City to win at 12/5 (Bet Victor)
Aston Villa v West Ham
Ten points adrift of safety at Christmas, it may already be too late for Villa, who have been absolutely shocking this season. They are 1/10 for the drop, which is astonishing given the size of the club. A 1-1 draw away to Newcastle offered beleaguered fans some crumbs of comfort last weekend, but if they fail to build on that with a win here they are doomed. Doomed I tells ya! The good news is they face a West Ham side who have been ravaged by injuries to key men (and a side who have failed to score in over 270 minutes of Premier League action). If the Villa are to perform mission impossible, it has to start here.
Betting: Aston Villa to win at 17/10 (Paddy Power)
Bournemouth v Crystal Palace
Both of these teams are absolutely flying. They meet each other on Boxing Day, primed and ready to go. In wrestling parlance it reminds me of when Hulk Hogan first squared off with The Ultimate Warrior during WrestleMania VI, though with much less face paint, steroids (allegedly) and fake tan. Both teams like to go for it, so goals, hopefully, will not be in short supply.
Betting: Over 2.5 goals at evens (Betfred)
Chelsea v Watford
The Blues eased past Sunderland in their first game since the dismissal of Jose Mourinho but it was rather surprising to see the Pro-Mourinho fans unfurl such rubbish banners before and during that game. I mean west London is meant to be a quite affluent area but those banners were absolutely dire. White bed sheets? Come off it. This is the Premier League 2015/16 season and Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea, not a Strangeways roof protest circa 1990. As for the betting here I reckon the Blues look really short at 4/9 or thereabouts. Watford have won four in a row and have a pair of strikers who are terrorising defences on a weekly basis.
Betting: Troy Deeney to score anytime at 7/2 (Sky Bet)
Liverpool v Leicester City
Again I am stunned about the price of the so called ‘dog’ in this one. Leicester are top of the league and 14 points clear of Liverpool. They are the top scorers yet the camel coats still have the audacity to make them 16/5 shots to win at Anfield? I just don’t get it. Liverpool have failed to win in their last four and during that time have suffered damaging defeats against Newcastle and Watford. 16/5? 16/5? I’ll sh*t em…..
Betting: Leicester City to win at 16/5 (Coral)
Manchester City v Sunderland
I heard the stats while driving home the other night about the clean sheets Man City have kept with big Vince Kompany in the side this season, and their defensive record without him. Isn’t it eight mates and seven clean sheets with him in the side? And nine matches and one clean sheet with him missing? Whatever. It’s absolutely scandalous that a team of such riches are so reliant defensively on one man. The more I see of Eliaquim Mangala, the more I cringe that this lunatic cost over £31million, or whatever he was in the end. If Mangala is involved this weekend, Sunderland will score.
Betting: Manchester City to win and both teams to score at 15/8 (Boylesports)
Swansea v West Brom
Tough call this as two teams with absolutely no recent form between them lock horns. If someone held a gun to my head I would probably say Swansea, but they look plenty short at even money. Indeed I am going to attempt another audacious punting coup here by backing Kyle Naughton to score first at a whopping 50/1. Given the fact he has not scored for Swansea since completing a £5million move last January, cynics may scoff that there’s more chance of Graham Norton scoring at the Liberty Stadium. But remember, I have previous when it comes to big odds winners…
Betting: Naughton to score first at 50/1 (Coral)
Tottenham v Norwich
A Spurs statistician on Twitter recently did the maths and figured out what Harry Kane needs to do to match Lionel Messi. It’s all quite simple really. Kane needs to score 21 times against Norwich on Boxing Day and he will match the 2015 goal-scoring feats of the Argentine phenom. That’s roughly one goal every two and a half minutes. Now I’m usually a ‘glass half-full’ kind of geezer but truth be told that seems a bit beyond Big H. Scoring first at 100/30 is not.
Betting: Kane to score first at 100/30 (Coral)
Newcastle v Everton
The Mags have stepped it up a bit in recent weeks but I still reckon Everton are the bet here. Sometimes it pays to dodge studying recent form and just look at which team has the best players.
Betting: Everton to win at 27/20 (Coral)
Southampton v Arsenal
The Gunners are now rather warm 11/10 favourites for the title, sitting happily as they do two points off top spot and having vanquished most likely title rivals Manchester City last time out. 11/10 is incidentally the same price you can get about them toppling Southampton at St Mary’s, and it looks a bet to me. Ronald Koeman’s men have not beaten anyone since November 7. And when you have picked up just a solitary point from five matches the last team you want to be waging war with is Arsenal. The Gunners have shipped just 14 goals in the league so far – the joint lowest figure in the Premier League. And if they land the league this season how sweet a victory will it be for Arsene Wenger, lampooned by many for adding just Petr Cech to his squad before transfer deadline day? Cech has been sensational for them so far and the custodian with the worst hat in sport can help them to another three points here.
Betting: Arsenal to win at 11/10 (Coral/Hills)