Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Boxing Day football

The debate rages whether the EPL should have a winter break like all the rest of the European leagues, but from a fan or punting point of view, this is a no contest; the seemingly non-stop match fixtures during the festive period are pure nirvana. Here are my thoughts on Boxing day match-ups.

Man Utd v/s Newcastle. The Red Devils were unlucky to drop 2 points at Swansea over the week-end. They are the team form of the moment and this is the time they usually step up a gear. On the other hand, Newcastle are an ailing team. Since manager Pardew was given his ridiculous 8-year contract, their results have been below par. They have also been hit by some injuries to key players during that time. I cannot see them win this match; should they be desperately lucky, they can steal a point. Man Utd looks full value for an outright win and that's the recommendation.

Sunderland v/s Man City. Interesting match between 2 teams that alter the best and the worst. If City are at their best, they can blitz Sunderland. It's hard to gauge their true level of form; although they created many changes, they could only put one last-gap goal past a Reading defence that had been regularly shredded to pieces by other teams. To win this game, the Citizens will have to take their chances and be less profligate in front of goal. Sunderland have won 2 of their past 3 games, the wins coming against lowly opposition like Reading and Southampton. Martin O'Neill's men can make this game tight but it might be stretching for them to come up with a win. I would side with Man City as a draw-no-bet.

Norwich v/s Chelsea. Chelsea need to confirm their latest 8-0 drubbing of Aston Villa last week-end. Is that the start of a good period, or was it just a one-off? If they win convincingly again, then it might be worth following them in their future games. Norwich are a good force at home and it won't be surprising if they ended with the 3 points. This match can go either way and the outcome will be interesting as future reference.

Everton v/s Wigan. The Toffees are amazing me at the moment. They find a way to win even with their backs to the walls. They are proving a hard team to beat. I think they will throw a stinker soon but I don't know when. Wigan are still beset by a string of injuries and cannot be backed at any level. Logic dictates that the hosts will either come up with a win or a draw, provided they don't have that off-day I am mentioning. Might be worth siding with Everton as a draw-no-bet with the current odds.

Aston Villa v/s Tottenham. Confidence in Villa is very low after their 0-8 drubbing at Chelsea. How bad can you get? Also, how do players get their confidence back after that kind of result? The result of this game is up for grabs, so I'll stay away from trying to predict it.

QPR v/s West Brom. Much of Rangers' hope of staying in the top flight is to get full points at home. West Brom are over-achieving at the moment but I am not sure they can sustain their good form for long. They are bound to lose points on their travels and this is what will happen against Rangers, in my opinion. I strongly fancy the hosts as a draw-no-bet; their current odds representing the best value of the week-end

Stoke v/s Liverpool. The matches between these 2 teams usually end up goal-less or decided by the minimum of goals. If I were to play on scores, that's how I would punt on that game. Stoke are a good force at home and are a draw-no-bet recommendation.

Reading v/s Swansea. This can go either way.

Fulham v/s Southampton. These 2 teams are not in below-par form. Fulham are under-achieving because they are leaking goals in abundance at the moment. This is very uncharacteristic of them and they will welcome the visit of another struggling team in Southampton to gun for 3 points. I see the hosts winning this and are a strong Win selection.

Win: Man Utd, Fulham
Draw-no-bet: Man City, Everton, Stoke, QPR

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