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There have been some memorable fights already in 2018 and last weekend provided another when Adonis Stevenson and Badou Jack fought out to a...

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Boxing Day Football Picks 2016 (December 26-28)

The majority of the next round of domestic football matches will be played on Boxing Day, but the Premier League has shifted a couple of live games across Tuesday and Wednesday too. The Championship has added a couple of live games on the Tuesday.

We then will go into the final games of the 2016 calendar year later in the week as the football comes thick and fast after a 'Winter Break' of a week since the last games were played.

Watford v Crystal Palace Pick: The first game up in the Premier League on Boxing Day comes from Vicarage Road and Crystal Palace will have a new face in the dugout to help them change their fortunes.

It was no surprise that Alan Pardew was let go as manager after struggling throughout the 2016 calendar year, while the arrival of Sam Allardyce will come with some controversy. His ending as England manager would be the source for that, but Allardyce is known for keeping teams well established in the Premier League and looks a good fit for Crystal Palace.

It will take time for him to get his ideas across and I am not sure he has that ahead of this Boxing Day game at Watford. The defensive problems will need to be resolved in the coming weeks, but this game might come too early and backing at least three goals to be scored between these teams looks a big price.

Crystal Palace have conceded at least three times in their last 4 away games and Watford have been better going forward at home which suggests they can expose those vulnerabilities. On the other hand, Watford have had just a single clean sheet at home all season and Crystal Palace have scored at least twice in their last 3 away games.

Games between these clubs have seen 5 of the last 7 finish with at least three goals and I will back that to happen in the opening game in the Premier League on Boxing Day.

Arsenal v West Brom Pick: There have been some excuses made in the last couple of Premier League losses for Arsenal, but they should apportion some of the blame to themselves for not putting their foot down when having Everton and Manchester City under the cosh. Failing to get any points from those couple of League games despite leading 0-1 is on Arsenal and the title challenge is already facing some difficulties.

The side have a chance to at least head into the 2017 calendar year with some momentum as they play their final game in 2016 at The Emirates Stadium. Arsenal won't take West Brom lightly having seen how well the latter played at Stamford Bridge when they faced Chelsea, but Tony Pulis sides tend to struggle here.

A problem they have is sitting back and allowing Arsenal to dictate the play which suits the home team fine. Letting Arsenal have the play gives them the opportunity to record a decent win here and 4 of their last 5 home wins against West Brom have come by a couple of goals.

Arsenal have beaten Bournemouth and Stoke City by a couple of goals in their last 2 Premier League games here and I like the home team to win by at least two goals at odds against.

Leicester City v Everton Pick: This is a big Premier League game for both Leicester City and Everton who are hoping they can start building some positive momentum to take into the 2017 calendar year.

The signs are pointing to an improvement in the Leicester City performances, while they have been much better at home which should inspire some confidence even without Jamie Vardy. That can be coupled with Everton's away struggles and Leicester City could be a favourite to win this one.

However they are missing two of their first choice back four through suspensions and Everton have shown they can score goals away from home. That should help them play a part in this one and 6 of the last 7 fixtures between these clubs have ended with at least three goals shared out.

At odds against, I will back that number to be reached again with both teams playing their part in this one and the edge likely to be given to the home team.

Manchester United v Sunderland Pick: The big story is going to be David Moyes returning to Old Trafford, but I hope the majority of fans don't bother booing someone who was simply out of his depth when managing the club. I don't believe in booing former players or managers, even if some idiots believe booing a current player is the right way to go about things.

On the pitch Manchester United look to have got all of their players available for selection in this one aside from Luke Shaw and they are in better shape than Sunderland. The away squad has been decimated by injuries, especially in midfield, and that should mean Manchester United have the majority of control and create the most chances in this one.

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the form he has been in, Manchester United have been threatening to hand out a big victory over someone and I think this could be the game. Sunderland have lost comfortably at Liverpool and Swansea City in their last couple of games, and Manchester United have been playing well enough to make it another solid away loss for The Black Cats.

It feels like this could be a long day for David Moyes and his team and an early goal should open things up for Manchester United. I will back the home team to win by at least two goals and feel they can go even further in what would be the second most comfortable win at Old Trafford in the Premier League this season.

Hull City v Manchester City Pick: There is a big transfer window coming up for Hull City who are trying desperately to extend their stay in the Premier League and need to bring in some new faces. Going into Christmas Day bottom of the Premier League has proved to be a death knell for some many clubs over the years, but Hull City can at least say they are still in touch with the teams above them.

Anything they can get out of this game will be seen as a bonus as Manchester City head to the North East as big favourites to win the last live Premier League game on Boxing Day. The win over Arsenal would have boosted the Manchester City confidence although their last away game was a 4-2 loss at Leicester City.

I am not sure Hull City have the attacking threat to hurt this Manchester City team like Leicester City had and I think it is going to be tough for the home team to stay with them if Manchester City produce the same level as they did in the second half against Arsenal.

The last 2 visits to The KC Stadium have ended in wins by at least two goals each time for Manchester City and I think the away team can do that again.

Hull City have lost by that margin to Arsenal and Chelsea in the League this season and half of Manchester City's 6 away Premier League wins have been by at least two goals. At just under odds against, I will back Manchester City to win by a couple of goals here.

Aston Villa v Burton Albion Pick: The form of Aston Villa and Burton Albion at home and away respectively is pointing towards the former Premier League club to get the better of a team that were two Divisions below them last season.

Steve Bruce has been inspiring his team to wins at Villa Park and the confidence looks to have been restored to the side who have scored plenty of late goals for wins in recent games. Now they face a Burton Albion team who have conceded too many goals on their travels and who have lost 4 of their last 5 away games while conceding at least two goals in each of those losses.

Aston Villa haven't been free-scoring but they have been defensively sound which has helped them and I will back them to win this League game and keep the chase going for a top six finish.

Barnsley v Blackburn Rovers Pick: Both Barnsley and Blackburn Rovers have been involved in some high-scoring games of late as both have looked decent going forward, but struggling at the back.

The last 5 fixtures between these clubs have also produced at least three goals, while Barnsley head into this one having seen 7 of their 11 home games in the League finish with at least three goals shared out.

Goals have been flowing in the last 3 Blackburn Rovers games which have all ended 3-2 and I will back at least three goals to be shared out in this one.

Newcastle United v Sheffield Wednesday Pick: There is very little doubt that Newcastle United have the best squad in the Championship but the suspension of Jonjo Shelvey will hurt them. I still think they are likely to be too good for Sheffield Wednesday who have not been as strong on their travels as they have been at Hillsborough and I think that shows up in this live game.

Playing at St James' Park has been good for Newcastle United for the most part, although they have produced a couple of terrible results over the course of the season. However they have goals in the side and I think it will be tough for Sheffield Wednesday to match that in this game.

It will be close but Newcastle United can have enough of an edge to come through with the three points and I will back them to earn those.

Brighton v Queens Park Rangers Pick: There has to be a real fear for Queens Park Rangers that they are slipping back towards the third tier of English Football having recently been playing in the Premier League. Ian Holloway was supposed to arrest the slide, but his time in charge has seen Queens Park Rangers slip to 5 consecutive losses.

That doesn't bode well for them in their visit to Brighton who have been very strong at home all season and playing with the confidence that Queens Park Rangers are lacking.

Brighton have won 3 in a row against Queens Park Rangers here and I would be surprised if they don't extend that sequence. A lack of goals for Queens Park Rangers has to be a big concern and I think Brighton are playing well enough to have a fairly comfortable day in the office.

The home side have won a fair few games by at least a couple of goals at home and I will back them to do that here at odds against.

Derby County v Birmingham City Pick: The sacking of Gary Rowett is going to be a big moment in Birmingham City's season and their finish is going to be determined by this moment. If they end up outside of the Play Offs, the Birmingham City owners will be criticised for sacking Rowett, but earning promotion to the Premier League will give them full backing for this decision.

It will take time for Gianfranco Zola's methods to take hold for Birmingham City and his January recruitments are going to be very important to the success or failure of the second half of the season.

This is a tough place to visit for Birmingham City too and The Blues are not blessed with a lot of goals. That is a concern when you think Derby County have 6 clean sheets in a row at home and I do think the home team will find a goal or two to lead them to the victory.

Steve McClaren has improved the fortunes of The Rams and I think he can guide them to another important win over this festive period as they chase a Play Off spot at the least.

MY PICKS: Watford-Crystal Palace Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.15 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Arsenal - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Leicester City-Everton Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Manchester United - 1.75 Asian Handicap @ 1.84 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Manchester City - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.97 Bet365 (2 Units)
Aston Villa @ 1.75 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Barnsley-Blackburn Rovers Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.91 William Hill (2 Units)
Newcastle United @ 1.70 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Brighton - 1 Asian Handicap @ 2.01 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Derby County @ 1.75 Bet365 (2 Units)

December Update27-29, - 4.95 Units (107 Units Staked, - 4.63% Yield)

November Final40-38-3, + 5.76 Units (159 Units Staked, + 3.62% Yield)

October Final29-41-2, - 21.23 Units (139 Units Staked, - 15.27% Yield)
September Final43-28-1, + 35.17 Units (133 Units Staked, + 26.44% Yield)
August Final31-38-2, - 9 Units (124 Units Staked, - 7.26% Yield)
Season 2016/17142-145-8, + 10.70 Units (555 Units Staked, + 1.93% Yield)

Season 2015/16133-174-2, + 0.89 Units (669 Units Staked, + 0% Yield)
Season 2014/15159-208-5, - 20.22 Units (647 Units Staked, - 3.13% Yield)
Season 2013/14164-185-3, + 15.84 Units (577 Units Staked, + 2.75% Yield

Season 2012/13+ 4.42 Units (415 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)

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