The Bleacher Report Uk’s top footy analyst Sam Tighe is back to preview this weekend’s pivotal Premier League games and give you his best bets.
Stoke City vs. Manchester United: Under 3.5 & Home (51/20)
It’s easy to have confidence in Stoke City turning Manchester United over on Boxing Day having watched them dismiss Manchester City—a superior team—so easily at home two weeks ago.
The Brittania Stadium has only borne witness to 17 goals in the eight games it has hosted so far this season, with a) the Potters seemingly unable to get themselves going against “lesser” opposition, and b) Jack Butland’s form in goal being the key reasons.
It’s a must-win for Louis van Gaal, but do we expect Man Utd to attack? Of course not; we expect Stoke to edge a close one.
Liverpool vs. Leicester City: Leicester Win (11/4)
Liverpool’s honeymoon period under Jurgen Klopp is well and truly over; the Reds have sunk to three straight games without a win despite playing Newcastle United, West Bromwich Albion and Watford in succession.
Leicester City, meanwhile, are on a three-game win streak that includes victories over Chelsea and Everton. They couldn’t be in more contrasting form to their next opponents if they tried.
11/4 to back the Foxes seems rather generous given the circumstances, and it feels as though the only spanner that could alter these works is if Daniel Sturridge turns up fit and firing.
Chelsea vs. Watford: Both Teams To Score Yes (19/20)
Chelsea be warned: Odion Ighalo is in the form of his life and has you in his crosshairs ahead of Boxing Day.
Calling this result is very difficult, not only because of the Hornets’ brilliant run, but also because it’s impossible to know if Chelsea’s win over Sunderland was a false dawn.
We’ve seen the Blues spark into life then peter out again the following week, and it’s fair to say the Black Cats made it a little easy for them.
But both sides have a goal in them, and it’s likely neither goalkeeper will keep a clean sheet. Given Chelsea’s home advantage and Watford’s impressive scoring record, 19/20 is quite attractive for BTTS Yes.
Aston Villa vs. West Ham: Aston Villa 1 (Winning Margin) (3/1)
It’s going to seem pretty out there, but I’m tipping Aston Villa to win a game of football. It’s only happened once before this season—on the opening day, you’ll likely be aware—but they’re finally in a position to give the home crowd something to cheer.
Villa are 8/5 to win, but the odds are more favourable if you specify a one-goal margin. Let’s face it: if Remi Garde’s men are to take three points here, it won’t be by a comfortable margin; it will be a nervous, desperate scrabble.
But something in that Newcastle performance appeared to click, and Villa have players hitting form (Jordan Ayew, Jordan Veretout), whereas West Ham are winless in seven games.
Southampton vs. Arsenal: Arsenal Win (21/20)
If you haven’t checked in on Southampton lately, let me fill in the blanks for you: They’ve been dreadful; entirely and utterly dreadful.
Graziano Pelle is battling injuries, and the whole attack seems to sputter when he’s not playing to an optimal, ailment-free standard.
Even Virgil van Dijk’s lost form, with the entire defensive line turning from strength to liability over the last five lean weeks.
Arsenal, meanwhile, are absolutely rolling; you get the feeling they don’t necessarily play that well to win at St. Mary’s on Boxing Day.
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.