The fingers were well and truly burned by Spurs with that 4-1 defeat of Southampton in midweek, as we backed the Saints to avoid what was just their third defeat of 2016 on home soil. Yes, Spurs were helped no end by Mike Dean’s refereeing, but they were on top when Redmond received his marching orders, and were good value for the win.
Other results – namely Liverpool winning without keeping a clean sheet – meant a midweek profit, so we’re not holding a grudge against Spurs, and in fact, will back them to make it two away wins on the bounce when they visit Watford on Sunday. Dele Alli notched twice in that victory on the South Coast, Harry Kane was on the scoresheet despite his horrendous penalty miss, and Christian Eriksen is noticeably back to his best. Watford battled back to earn a point on Boxing Day at home to Palace, but goals have been hard to come by recently and the Hornets may struggle to contain Tottenham’s rejuvenated attack.
Sam Allardyce must have thought he was on the way to three points in his first match as Palace boss when Christian Benteke lined up a penalty for 2-0, but the Belgian strikers miss proved costly as Watford fought back. His second game in charge is another away London derby, but the trip to the Emirates will be a good deal harder. Olivier Giroud’s late goal gave the Gunners a 1-0 victory over a dogged West Brom on Boxing Day, and it was a familiar story of Arsenal dominating but struggling to overcome a disciplined team. Allardyce has epitomised organisation and discipline during his time in the Premier League, and Wenger might have to bite his nails again on Sunday afternoon.
Watford v Tottenham
Spurs make plenty of appeal at -137 with William Hill when they visit Watford.
Backing odds-on away sides in not in one’s nature, but on this occasion it’s hard to look past a Tottenham team which has won three Premier League games in a row. Pochettino’s men blew their chances in the Champions League, but they’ve been consistent enough in domestic football – losing just twice in 18 matches. Hull, Burnley and Southamtpon have been dismissed with the minimum of fuss in the last three, and Spurs visit a Watford side woefully out-of-form at the moment.
The 10th placed Hornets owe much of their position to early season form, and just three wins in the last ten is a poor return. One of the problems has been finding the back of the net. The Hornets have only scored more than once in game on two occasions in the last eleven games, and although Deeney hit a penalty at home to Palace on Boxing Day, neither he nor Ighalo have matched the heights of last season. Their home record has been decent enough this year in the circumstances – won 4, drawn 2, lost 3 – with the highlight a victory over Manchester United. However, Chelsea, Arsenal and Stoke have all taken three points from Vicarage Road, and Spurs are more than good enough to win their fourth consecutive away match at Watford.
Arsenal v Crystal Palace
Rushing to back Arsenal at -303 for this match hardly gets the pulse racing, so a more speculative punt on the HT/FT result is the call. Draw half-time/Arsenal full-time is priced at +360 with BetVictor and that strikes as a decent bet given the usual make up of a Sam Allardyce team.
Fans of Newcastle and West Ham will tell you all about the pragmatic approach that Big Sam brings, and while it’s not appealing to many, his style continues to produce results. So much so in fact, that he was offered the England job over the summer – although we all know how that turned out. Despite his protestations the tag of ‘hoofball’ follows him around, but a more accurate description is one of organisation. Allardyce focuses on the defensive side of the game first and foremost, and you can guarantee his players will be well-drilled on their defensive duties ahead of this clash. It could easily turn into a carbon copy of the West Brom match last week, where the Gunners had 76% possession and registered 19 shots, but had to wait until the last five minutes for victory. Palace will set out to stifle the free-flowing football of Arsenal, and are taken to hold out until at least half-time.
For Arsenal, the back-to-back 2-1 losses at Everton and Manchester City were a body blow, but they’re in 4th place and still only 9 points off runaway leaders Chelsea. It’s matches like this in the past where Wenger’s teams have often been frustrated, but if they want to be considered genuine title contenders the Gunners have to start putting the lesser lights to bed. They’ve beaten Palace on two of their last three visits, but as ever, will find it hard to break down a team that will probably ‘park the bus’.
Tottenham to beat Watford
Sunday 1st January, 13:30 GMT
Draw HT/Arsenal FT – Double result
Sunday 1st January, 16:00 GMT