Stoke play Newcastle on New Year's Day.

Stoke Set for Must-Win Game against Magpies

Stoke play Newcastle on New Year's Day.

The Premier League fixtures come thick and fast over the Christmas period and another round of games take place across Monday and Tuesday as we usher in the New Year.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes made the bold decision to rest several players, including Joe Allen and Xherdan Shaqiri, away at Chelsea on Saturday with the home match against Newcastle on Monday in mind. His side was thrashed 5-0 by the current champions and Hughes’ choice to play a weakened team will only be justified with a win against the Magpies on Monday. There are no guarantees, however, and Rafa Benitez’ men are also in desperate need of points in the battle to avoid the drop.

That decision highlights one of the problems faced by Premier League sides during the hectic Christmas period, and teams with smaller squads find it difficult to manage. This can lead to a certain amount of fatigue for those players heavily involved and that’s when mistakes start to set in. It’s not unusual to see some high-scoring games – as we saw on Boxing Day with results like Spurs’ 5-2 win over Southampton. With that in mind, we’re concentrating on over the over 2.5 goal bets which stood us in such good stead last week.

Stoke v Newcastle

The first match is the relegation battle between Stoke and Newcastle, where over 2.5 goals is attractively priced at odds of +112   with 888Sport.

As mentioned, this has become a must-win game for Stoke – especially as three points will provide the only justification for resting so many big players against Chelsea. The Potters are 15th in the table but only one point ahead of Newcastle and two points above the bottom three. Recent results don’t inspire confidence, but Stoke’s only two wins in the last ten games have come at home against relegation battlers – a 3-1 victory over West Brom and a 2-1 win over Swansea.

The Magpies are best when they are the underdog, as demonstrated with the 3-2 win away at West Ham, but can struggle when they are expected to win – see the 0-0 draw at home to Brighton on Saturday. They may well sit back and hit Stoke on the break, and it will be no great surprise to see a few goals go in as the tension mounts throughout 90 minutes.

Leicester v Huddersfield

Next up, Leicester and Huddersfield can combine for three or more goals at odds of +105   with BetVictor.

The Terriers are having a good first season in the Premier League and have forged a reputation as being hard-to-beat. Three successive draws with Southampton, Stoke and Burnley have followed the 4-1 win at Watford, and 11th place is a very good position from which to start the New Year.

Leicester are in 8th place despite losing three of the last four games, and the Foxes will be keen to use this home game to get back on the winning track. Mahrez and Vardy are back in tandem and combined to help Leicester take the lead at Anfield on Saturday. Their last six Premier League games have gone over 2.5 goals, and this one could easily go the same way.

Swansea v Tottenham

Swansea earned a remarkable lifeline on Saturday as two goals in the last five minutes gave them a 2-1 win at Watford. They remain bottom of the table but gained three precious points as they attempt to play catch-up. Their home match with Spurs looks primed for over 2.5 goals at odds of -128   with 888Sport.

It was a perfect start to life as Swansea manager for Carlos Carvalhal, but there is much work to do if the Swans are to survive. The former Sheffield Wednesday boss earned a reputation for organised and defensively sound teams, but that will only go so far towards Swansea’s target of survival. Being hard-to-beat is a useful asset in the top-flight, but the Swans’ circumstances dictate a need for attacking football, goals and points.

Those are three things synonymous with this Spurs side, who score goals for fun. Harry Kane has scored hat-tricks in his last two matches and you wouldn’t bet against him finding the net again – if he overcomes the illness which threatens to keep him out of this game.

Southampton v Crystal Palace

Finally, Southampton and Palace can combine for goals at odds of +110   with BetVictor.

Roy Hodgson’s side has been steadily improving over the last couple of months and they are now out of the relegation zone. They were a last-minute penalty miss away from being the first side to beat Manchester City this season on Sunday, but a 0-0 draw was still a fine result against the champions-elect.

Southampton have been travelling in the opposite direction after a run of just two wins in the last sixteen games. The Saints will see this as a must-win game at home to a relegation rival, but Palace are in much the better form and will fancy three points themselves.

Tips Summary

Stoke v Newcastle – Over 2.5 goals
Monday 1st January, 15:00 GMT
Odds:  +112

Leicester v Huddersfield – Over 2.5 goals
Monday 1st January, 15:00 GMT
Odds:  +105

Swansea v Tottenham – Over 2.5 goals
Tuesday 2nd January, 19:45 GMT
Odds:  -128

Southampton v Crystal Palace – Over 2.5 goals
Tuesday 2nd January, 19:45 GMT
Odds:  +110

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