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Football Tips: 26th, 27th & 28th December
by the Cheeky Punter
With the arrival of Christmas, it also heralds the busiest period of the season for Premier League teams.
This is the first group of fixtures over this period where squad rotation is likely to play a big factor with many teams having played just 48 hours previously and then facing another two games in 48 hours time.
As such, I’ve tried to build that into my tips where I can and I’ve tended to avoid teams that can make some rash decisions when it comes to squad rotation (Liverpool, anybody?).
Here are my Boxing Day football tips along with my predictions for Wednesday 27th and Thursday 28th December.
Boxing Day Football Tips: 26th December
December 26, 2017
December 26, 2017
Watford occupied 10th place in the league table coming into the xmas and were without a win in their last five and having lost their last three.
Leicester had won four games in a row but defeat to Crystal Palace stalled that progress. They are mid table in the Premier League.
Watford have won just two of the last eight games between the teams, their last win a 2-1 home victory over the Foxes last season.
The teams have met 63 times in total over the years with Watford winning 19 to Leicester’s 27 while 17 matches between the teams have ended in draws.
A few weeks ago, you would have had Watford down as the likely winners of this game, but since then the Hornet’s form has stalled somewhat whereas Leicester, although they have hit a sticky patch in their past two games, have generally been in excellent form.
Given Watford’s best performances have tended to come on the road this season and also that Leicester enjoy a generally solid record when the two teams have met in the past, I feel that the Foxes seem to be the stronger of the two teams at present.
I think Claude Puel has done a good job here and provided that key players such as Mahrez and Vardy remain fit over the Christmas period, I can see them pushing on towards the top seven if they keep their current form going.
This will likely be a tight game but I am going for a Leicester win by the odd goal in three.
Everton have hit their best run of form just at the right time and have propelled themselves up the table on the back of some really great performances.
West Brom are in real danger and are without a win since August. They sit right down the table and have struggled to win games all season long.
The Baggies have drawn more games than any other team in the Premier League so far this season.
Everton have lost just one of the last nine games between the teams. Everton have 69 wins in this fixture to West Brom’s 59 and there have been 37 draws.
This is a fixture that over recent years, Everton have enjoyed a good deal of success in and the Toffees are certainly in the right vein of form to get a result here having picked up their performances and points tally of late.
It’s been a torrid campaign for West Brom so far, after winning their opening two games they have not managed another win since, drawing way too many games and losing to many as well. Their in a real relegation fight this season, whether they like it or not.
That poor run cost Tony Pulis his job and Alan Pardew has come in but as yet, results are yet to kick into a gear that would see the Baggies move away from the danger zone. In contrast, Everton’s new boss Sam Allardyce has come to the helm at the perfect point of the season to see his charges move well clear of the drop zone.
Everything here points to either an Everton win or a draw and while Evertons’ form is impressive, West Brom’s defence is their main strength and I can see them holding Everton here to a draw, most likely 0-0 or 1-1.
Manchester City are setting all kinds of recordings this season and demolishing anything in their path. It looks like the league is theirs already.
Newcastle’s poor recent form has seen them drop from mid-table into serious danger and if they don’t start picking up points soon they’re in trouble.
The teams have met a total of 175 times previously with City winning 65 games, Newcastle have the edge with 71 and 39 matches have been drawn.
Newcastle have an appalling record against City with just one win since Feb 2006. City have won 17, drawn four and lost just one of those 22 matches between the teams.
Few teams hold quite the same hoodoo over Newcastle United as Manchester City do. Indeed, ever since City last lost to Newcastle at St James’ Park back in September 2005, Newcastle have won just one match of the next 22 games, a 2-0 League Cup win in Manchester in October 2014.
Given the teams contrasting form this season it is impossible to make any realistic case for a Newcastle United win here other than hoping that Pep Guardiola decides to rotate too many of his key men out of the team for this match. That could happen, but the Spaniard is usually too wily to make such obvious errors with his team selection.
It is clear that Rafa Benitez enjoys great support on Tyneside but the Spaniard needs funds to help keep Newcastle in this division, otherwise it could well be a long and difficult second half of the season ahead if they don’t make some signings in January.
I can’t see any other result here other than a convincing City win and I am backing them to keep Newcastle’s attack quiet too and record a win to nil here.
Crystal Palace’s much improved form under Roy Hodgson has seem them move up towards mid table, which is a fantastic achievement.
Arsenal are still very much in contention for a Champions League spot this year but winning the title looks well out of their grasp now.
These two teams have not met too often in the past but Palace have won just four games against Arsenal out of the 41 played, with Arsenal winning 26 and 11 being draws.
Palace did beat Arsenal 3-0 back in April 2017 however, their first win over the Gunners since October 1994.
This round of games is completed on Thursday night with a London derby game between an improving Crystal Palace and an Arsenal team that will come into this game following a crucial encounter with Liverpool.
The Gunners away record this season hasn’t been great and their confidence will be determined by that home game with Liverpool. A win there and they’ll be super-confident of getting a win here. Anything less than a win and this becomes a much trickier prospect for the Gunners.
Palace’s form since Roy Hodgson took over has been superb and they have collected 17 points since the ex-England manager took charge, he has moved them to the relative safety of 14th place in the league before Christmas, which is a fantastic achievement.
I fancy the home side to get something here as they are playing with a bit of swagger now and in Townsend and Zaha have some real quality to cause Arsenal problems, but I am backing the Gunners to get something from this game as I am going for the draw here.
The Cheeky Punter is an professional online sports bettor and trader with over 15 years of experience in the industry. He has worked for a number of top bookmakers including Ladbrokes, William Hill and Coral. He's also written for a number of leading news outlets including the Guardian, i (newspaper) and Soccer Lens. More about him here.