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Looking for a brilliant bargain in the bank holiday sales? Then look no further than a little investment on Swansea to pick up all three points from the Madjeski Stadium against an increasingly doomed Reading side, reeling from seven Premier League defeats in a row, during which the Royals have conceded 18 goals.
Whilst Brian McDermott and his charges have continually demonstrated skills of character and resolve during tough periods of the season, they will undoubtedly feel hard done by after putting in such a valiant shift at the home of the champions on Saturday, only to be beaten at the very death by a questionable goal. Swansea, by contrast, would have enjoyed the fillip from taking a point off the league leaders on Sunday when Michu scored again to become the stand-alone top goalscorer this season with 13 Premier League strikes.
In addition, only the champions Manchester City have conceded less away league goals than the Welsh outfit so far this season, so while we know the obvious goal threat available in Michu and wingers Lloyd Dyer and Wayne Routledge, we can also be confident of a decent display from their defensive line. Back Swansea to come back from their trip to Berkshire with something nice.
Nice is not a word that would be used to describe Fulham’s recent form, in fact abysmal would be more accurate if you consider the Cottagers have only picked up seven of the last thirty points available. Having said that, all three points can be picked up at home to Southampton on Boxing Day you would have to think.
The lustre and energy from the Saints’ play seems to have evaporated as of recent, as exemplified in their flat display in defeat at home to Sunderland on Saturday, and as I disclosed here in the last column, their recent fortnight’s hiatus from competitive play did them no favours in terms of gaining momentum at a crucial part of the season.
The South Coast side have lost six out of their seven away league fixtures this season, and have not kept a clean sheet in any of the seven, which must be statistical music to Dimitar Berbatov’s ears. With captain Adam Lallana a big miss for the St. Mary’s outfit, Fulham is the way to go at a shade of odds-on.
While not all managers are thrilled with the idea of playing four matches over 10 festive fun-filled days, Aston Villa must be champing at the bit following their Stamford Bridge horror show on Sunday, where over the course of 90 minutes they conceded as many goals – eight – as they have shipped at Villa Park over the course of the whole season. That home stat is slightly misleading if you factor in that the Villains have entertained only three of the current top eight this season and not won against any of them.
Admittedly they did keep clean sheets against Stoke and Arsenal, but you do wonder how the young bucks of Villa will cope against seasoned marksmen such as Defoe, Adebayor and Bale, quality not readily available to the Potters or the Gunners. Only Manchester United have scored more away from home than Spurs, and with their recent good record in the Second City they look decent good things to win in the early evening clash. And win well.
Newcastle have a tough looking festive period on the road and en route to a Saturday clash with what will be a well-rested Arsenal side, its the small matter of a trip to Old Trafford for the Magpies. Alan Pardew’s men are still yet to win away from home in the league this season, however they have notched on six of their last seven road trips, and while Nemanja Vidic returns back to full fitness the red United may well still be susceptible. Both teams to score in that one.
While the nation tucks into leftover mince pies on Boxing Day, Fernando Torres may well be forgiven for not resisting the temptation to bake a massive humble pie for his doubters. The Spanish marksman has been the butt of many a joke from his detractors during his well-documented malaise, but he predictably new Chelsea broon Rafa Benitez is wringing out some vintage drops akin to the Fernando Torres circa 2008-09.
The rejuvenated striker is a decent price to notch against a Norwich side that have lost their defensive halo of late, having conceded in each of their last six league fixtures.
Top Five Tips
1) Swansea to beat Reading 6/4 LADBROKES
2) Fulham to beat Southampton 11/12 PINNACLEBET
3) Tottenham -1 Handicap 7/4 BET365 (Stakes returned if Spurs win by one goal)
4) Manchester United vs. Newcastle United Both teams to score EVENS STAN JAMES
5) Norwich vs. Chelsea Fernando Torres to score anytime 11/8 BETVICTOR
Elsewhere on Boxing Day, Everton hope to maintain their top four push when they entertain struggling Wigan. The Toffees cannot buy a clean sheet at the moment so it is a good thing that they are scoring for fun, even without the talismanic Marouane Fellaini.
The champions return to the Stadium of Light nearly a year to the day Ji-Dong Won (remember him?) scored a last-minute winner to inflict a shock defeat on the Manchester City. Can Sunderland do it again? Probably not.
In the night fixture, Liverpool visit the miserly defence of Stoke at the Brittania Stadium, although expect Begovic and co to be kept busy by the Reds’ improving attack, with Brendan Rodgers’ men netting in each of their last five league fixtures.
Lastly, QPR host West Brom and since the Rangers never do what I predict them to do its pretty much pointless forecasting result in this fixture so I won’t.
And that’s that. Merry Christmas everyone.
Written by Emelie Okeke
Follow him on Twitter @Emelie_Okeke
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