What better way to nurse the Christmas hangover on Boxing Day than a double helping of Premier League football live on TV! That’s what’s in store this Monday the 26th as Watford host currently manager-less Crystal Palace, and Hull entertain Manchester City.
Spare a thought for the Guardiola family – Pep is used to a generous Christmas break after stints in Spain and Germany, and a trip to Hull probably wasn’t high on many people’s festive agenda. His attacking brand of football hasn’t always paid off for the Citizens in the Premier League, but a seven point gap to Chelsea isn’t insurmountable if they can go on a winning run of their own. Mike Phelan’s Tigers are in the unenviable position of being bottom at Christmas, and we all know how that usually ends. His side haven’t won in six Premier League games, but a glimmer of hope can be found in their home form – where they are unbeaten in three.
Crystal Palace committed the cardinal sin of breaking up at Christmas by sacking Alan Pardew just three days before the traditional season of goodwill. Not particularly classy, but there’s no room for sentiment in football and we await news of his successor. At the time of writing the club are yet to confirm who will be in charge for the visit to Watford, which casts a fog over exactly how the players might respond. However, statistics point to a bet on over 2.5 goals and the sudden change could prove to be a beneficial one in that respect.
Hull v Manchester City
Firstly it’s the quandry of Hull vs Manchester City. Plenty of coupon tickers will be rushing to add City to an accumulator – and why not – but at -303 there’s not much meat on the bones of a single.
The Citizens should win comfortably of course, but the festive season always throws up a shock or two and Hull are unbeaten in three home games against Palace, West Brom and Southampton – four if you include the EFL Cup win over Newcastle. A better way to back City may be to look at the half time/full time market, where draw/Manchester City is quoted at a decent +360 with BetVictor .
Main man Sergio Aguero misses the last game of his ban for that challenge on David Luiz, and it blunts Pep Guardiola’s attack. They’ve still scored twice in each of the three fixtures he’s missed, but had to wait until the 33rd minute to take the lead in the 2-0 win over Watford, and were behind at half time in the 2-1 win over Arsenal. They also fell behind by the break in the 4-2 loss at Leicester, so are by no means good things to be leading at 45.
Hull played exceptionally well away at West Ham last time out and were unlucky to lose out to a dubious penalty. Had they taken just one of their earlier chances they could easily have been walking away with all three points. One thing that is clear about Phelan’s team is that they will fight to the bitter end. A lack of quality may well be their eventual undoing, but they’ll make anyone work for a victory.
By way of a marker, the Tigers held both Manchester United and Chelsea to half time draws when they met earlier in the season, before both took the initiative and the three points in the second half.
Watford v Crystal Palace
Several bookmakers are quoting generous prices about over 2.5 goals at Vicarage Road, with +111 a stand out price at Marathonbet .
Palace elected to part company with manager Alan Pardew after just one win in the last eleven games, but it had possibly been coming for a long time. The Eagles’ end of season form last term was shocking and reaching the FA Cup final probably bought the former Palace player a stay of execution. The club haven’t named a replacement immediately, and due to the time of year it would be a surprise if a new man was in place by Boxing Day lunchtime.
Quite how the turn of events will affect the players is up for question, but one suspects it won’t make them suddenly tight at the back. Palace have conceded more than any other team outside the bottom three, and although their goalscoring record is better than anyone outside the top five, they find themselves 17th in the table. A damning statistic is that the Eagles have conceded two or more goals in eight of their last ten matches – and the only two in which they didn’t were 1-0 defeats to Chelsea and West Ham at home.
Three or more have bulged the Palace net in their last four away matches, and that’s just the kind of defence Watford could do with facing right now. Troy Deeney’s lean spell has coincided with that of his club, and it’s two games since the Hornets hit the onion bag. However, they hit Everton for three in the 3-2 victory and have only failed to score on one occasion in eight at Vicarage Road. They’ve hosted Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal already this season, so that’s no mean feat, and it’s a tad surprising that the blank came in a 1-0 defeat to Stoke.
Draw/Man City – HT/FT Result
Monday 26th December, 17:15 GMT
Watford v Crystal Palace – Over 2.5 Goals
Monday 26th December, 12:30 GMT