EPL Boxing Day games betting preview, latest odds and expert tipsPosted on 23/12 by Joe Gann
An in-form Bournemouth team look good value to take 3 points at home vs Crystal Palace
Weekly Expert Betting Tips - Join our free mailing listThe build-up to this week’s fixtures has been dominated by the uncertainty surrounding key managerial positions. The sacking of Jose Mourinho combined with the news of Pep Guardiola’s intention to leave Bayern Munich at the end of the season, means that two of the best coaches in world football are now readily available.
What will the ramifications be at the Etihad, Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge? How will this affect the present incumbents, particularly in Manchester? With Van Gaal now the bookies favourite to be the next managerial casualty, the hectic Christmas schedule will surely decide his fate one way or the other.
As clubs face the prospect of 3 games in 8 days, reports this week have suggested that sub-standard results could see the Dutchman following David Moyes through the Old Trafford exit door before the year is out.
Stoke City ( ) v Manchester United ( )
Wayne Rooney needs one more goal to become the Premier League’s second all-time leading goal scorer behind Alan Shearer. Unfortunately, this doesn’t look like happening any time soon as United’s woes in front of goal continue; they mustered a pitiful 2 shots on target against Norwich on Saturday. Van Gaal’s increasingly unclear philosophy has seen his side regress this term.
After that defeat, he looked and sounded like a man who knows that his time is up. Recent performances have indicated that he may have lost the support of the players and the fans are becoming more and more disenchanted with each subsequent game. A combination that is usually terminal for a manager’s chances of survival. Defeat against Stoke could help expedite his exit.
The recent availability of two of the world’s top coaches- Guardiola and Mourinho have certainly played a part in cranking up the pressure on the Dutchman, at a time when results have taken on a wretched pattern. 3 straight defeats, no win in 6 and only one point better off than at the same stage under much maligned David Moyes. He is now the bookies favourite to be the next managerial dismissal.
After tasting defeat last week to Crystal Palace, in a game they were unfortunate to lose, the Potters will be keen for a return to winning ways after falling to 11th in the table. They will be looking for a repeat of the performance that saw them totally outplay Manchester City in a 2-0 victory earlier in the month.
Connor Wickham’s penalty last week brought to an end 542 minutes without conceding a goal for Ryan Shawcoss, highlighting his importance to Mark Hughes’s team and Stoke will be looking at the former United player to help shut out his old club here.
Chelsea ( ) v Watford ( )
After yet another turbulent saga in the history of Chelsea came to a predictable conclusion with the dismissal of Jose Mourinho; on the pitch they at least finished the week on a high, running out 3-1 winners over Sunderland. Subsequent revelations have materialised describing the recent atmosphere under the special one as ‘toxic’- it was somewhat inevitable that the decision was taken to cleanse the club of his apparent malignant presence.
Owner Roman Abramovich will be hoping that former boss Guus Hiddink- the Dutchman has been installed as interim boss until the end of the campaign- will cultivate a more harmonious environment as they prepare to rectify a disastrous season so far. Player revolt has been cited as a factor in the team’s unravelling this season and supporters targeted Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard at Saturday’s game against Sunderland; the men they see as being responsible for the demise of terrace hero Mourinho.
The removal of the Portuguese will more than likely herald a watershed moment for the blues as the underperforming players magically regain the quality that saw them crowned Champions only 7 months ago.
Watford- fresh from a 3-0 win over Liverpool, the first time they have achieved this at home since 1986,- have integrated 15 new players this season and manager Quique Flores must take immense credit for the way he has assembled his squad. Arriving at Christmas just one point adrift of the Champions League places is an outstanding feat. Stand out performer Odion Ighalo has 12 goals already this season and 28 in total for 2015, no player in England has scored more.
Aston Villa ( ) v West Ham ( )
Villa took a decent point in a much improved display at Newcastle last week, but still crave that elusive win. The winless streak now stretches back to August 8th, the first game of the season at Bournemouth. They now find themselves 10 points from safety and things are beginning to look bleak.
The teams around the bottom are likely to spend in January as they seek to avoid relegation which would see them miss out on a share of next year’s financial bonanza in the guise of the new, improved TV deal. Villa manager Remi Garde believes they are now at the start of a run which will shape their season.
Victories for Bournemouth, Chelsea and Norwich at the weekend only made their survival chances more difficult and with 9 goals in the last 9 away games, they will need an incredible turnaround in fortune if they are to avoid relegation.
West Ham are now winless in 7, as their promising start to the season begins to peter out. With 3 goalless draws in a row, the injuries to Diafra Sakho, Enner Valencia and Dimitri Payet appear to be taking their toll on the Hammers. They received a welcome boost this week though with the news that Andy Carroll, Manuel Lanzini and Valencia are all in line to make a return in the clash at Villa Park. A game against the division’s bottom team could provide an ideal opportunity to kick start their campaign.
Bournemouth ($2.60) v Crystal Palace ($2.70)
The Cherries are in the middle of a run of 3 very impressive wins in a row¬ and West Brom became the most recent team to succumb to Eddie Howe’s men at the weekend. They face a Crystal Palace team who are in fine form themselves and this could be one of the weekend’s most entertaining clashes.
The high flying Eagles have become an unlikely Champions League contender after an excellent season so far. Boosted by a great win at Stoke last week, the progress made by Alan Pardew’s men has attracted financial backing in the form of American investors Josh Harris and David Blitzer who acquired a 36% share of the Selhurst Park club equating to a figure of £50 million.
Man City ( ) v Sunderland ( )
City’s awful away form continued at the Emirates on Monday, as they lost what could be a pivotal encounter. The constant speculation surrounding the future of Manuel Pellegrini may be a hindrance as the Citizens continue their pursuit of silverware on 4 fronts.
With 4 straight away games coming up in all competitions, City will need to improve. Home results remain solid though and this game looks as certain a home banker as you’re likely to see this season.
After making an encouraging start on Wearside, Sam Allardyce has seen his team lapse back into the kind of bad habits that saw them start the campaign so badly. He has indicated this week that he is preparing to spend in the January transfer window in order to dig Sunderland out of the relegation mire. Now 5 points from safety, with surrounding teams picking up valuable wins recently; a tough Christmas fixture list is the last thing the Black Cats need.
Liverpool ( ) v Leicester ( )
What a difference a year makes. Rewind 12 months ago, and Leicester City were adrift at the bottom of the league. Since then, they have successfully built on a laudable relegation escape act, and recruited vastly experienced Italian manager Claudio Ranieri in the summer who has overseen an astonishing transformation at the King Power Stadium.
It is now 9 months since their last away defeat and they are sitting pretty at the top of league at Christmas 2015. 5 of the last 6 teams to do that finished the season as Champions. With 8 wins out of 10, the Foxes are in imperious form and continue to defy people’s expectations as their season gathers momentum. They are a good bet to win wherever they are playing at the minute as they cast aside all before them.
In Riyad Mahrez, they have one of the league’s top performers; last Saturday he scored his 13th and 14th goals of an outstanding season both courtesy of the spot. They are currently leading the division on merit, playing a refreshingly vibrant brand of football. The vast majority of neutrals will be hoping that can go all the way this year and join football’s most elite club, by becoming just the 6th team to lift the Premiership trophy.
For Liverpool, it has been a season of extremes. From the heights of the 1-4 win away at Manchester City result to this week’s crushing defeat at Vicarage Road, Coach Jurgen Klopp has experienced a mixed bag of results since taking over from Brendan Rodgers. It is no win in 4 in all competitions for the reds now.
Tottenham Hotspur ( ) v Norwich City ( )
Last time out, both of these teams enjoyed fine away wins. On the back of a shock defeat to Newcastle the week before, Spurs redeemed themselves with victory at a struggling Southampton. The win saw them leapfrog Manchester United into 4th and with only 1 defeat in 15 now, they are set up nicely in the quest for a Champions League place. Harry Kane has 9 goals in 11 and
Spurs have only lost one in 15 in what has been a far more consistent season from the men from White Hart Lane. However, they have lost more points from winning positions than any other team.
]For Norwich, their season received a timely boost last week with victory at Old Trafford, their first at the venue since 1989. It was a vital win that helped to reverse a worrying decline and keeps them 2 points ahead of the bottom 3. Last weekend was a good one for the promoted sides with Norwich, Bournemouth and Watford all experiencing splendid wins.
Swansea City ( ) v West Bromwich Albion ( )
The uncertainty surrounding the appointment of a new manager won’t be helping the Swans as they attempt to address their alarming slump. In the midst of a dreadful run that has yielded just one win in 13 games; a period that has seen them part company with Garry Monk and this weekend slip into the bottom three.
West Brom experienced a set-back last week, losing to an in-form Bournemouth side. The Baggies finished the game with 9 men to compound a disappointing day. As a result of that lack of discipline at the Hawthorns, Tony Pulis is set to welcome in-demand striker Saido Berahino back into the fold as a replacement for Soloman Rondon, who will now serve a 3 match ban. At $3.70, they seem like a good price to get things back on track here.
Newcastle United ( ) v Everton ( )
Everton will be looking to get back to winning ways after a couple of disappointing results of late. Rumours have been circulating this week that an American consortium have targeted the Goodison Park club in a takeover bid worth £200 million.
In Romelu Lukaku, they have the league’s red hot marksman at present; with 8 goals in consecutive games, he will have his eyes firmly fixed on Jamie Vardy’s recent Premiership goal scoring record of 11 in a row.
Newcastle were held by Villa at St James’s Park, putting an end to a good period which saw them overcome Liverpool and Spurs. After enduring a disappointing start to the campaign in which they failed to win any of the first 8 games, coach Steve Mc Claren has adopted a counter attacking tactic of late which has seen results improve. They currently enjoy a 3 point cushion above the drop zone.
Southampton ( ) v Arsenal ( )
After emerging from Monday’s tussle with Manchester City the victors, Arsenal are handily placed to mount a serious title challenge in the New Year. Mesut Ozil had a hand in both goals against the Blues and has an impressive 15 assists overall. With Olivier Giroud also on target again -10 for the season for him now – goals are plentiful for the Gunners at present. They are 3 points behind leaders Leicester City after what could prove to be a significant victory over Manchester City at the season’s end.
Southampton are in free fall. Boss Ronald Koeman has this week stated his displeasure with incidents that have occurred on the training ground. They have now lost 4 from the last 5, prompting the Dutchman to express his concerns that the Saints may be facing a relegation battle. With Arsenal in superb recent form, the price of $3.60 here looks realistic.
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