Premature Christmas gifts are always welcome, and here Santa has rummaged around in his sack to deliver a golden set of fixtures in this rare midweek Premier League schedule.
Wednesday’s fixtures see four of the top five in action, a relegation six-pointer and opportunities for many to claim a much-needed three points ahead of the festive fixture pile-up.
Punters are also offered a few Yuletide treats here, and so here is the pick of Wednesday’s Premier League betting tips.
Middlesbrough vs Liverpool (7:45pm)
One of the headline-making stories of the weekend’s action was the inability of Liverpool to see off beleaguered West Ham, with their keeper Lorus Karius again coming under fire for a rather feeble attempt to save a Dimitri Payet free kick.
Whether Jurgen Klopp opts to dispose of Karius or not, he will know that his side will need to defend better from front to back against a Middlesbrough side whose results don’t represent the efficiency of their performances.
The Boro have lost by one-goal margins to Chelsea, Tottenham and Southampton, and taking points from Arsenal and Manchester City, so they must be gagging for an opportunity to play a weaker team – as they have shown in victories over Bournemouth and Hull.
They will look to keep this contest mean and moody as they always do, and tight matches like these are often settled by a moment of individual brilliance. Of all the players on show, you would suspect that Liverpool are the more likely on that front.
Liverpool & Under 2.5 Goals (11/4 with bet365)
West Ham vs Burnley (7:45pm)
The Hammers have Liverpool’s defensive generosity to thank as much as anything else for their point taken from Anfield, although that is doing something of a disservice to a battling display.
Slaven Bilic is just starting to welcome back players from injury, and in Michail Antonio he finally has an ‘out ball’ in attacking areas.
Generally Burnley have been tonked on the road this term – defying their excellence at home – but we’d argue that West Ham, currently, lack the personnel and confidence to really take the Clarets to the cleaners.
The Hammers are the bookmakers’ favourites and rightly so, but there is a general feeling that a price of 7/10 is way too short even accounting for Burnley’s terrible efforts on the road. Instead, backing a low-scoring affair is wise.
Under 2.5 Goals (Evens with William Hill)
Manchester City vs Watford (8pm)
Oh Manchester City, what are we going to do with you? The optimists would suggest that they will come good soon enough; the pessimists will surmise that they are a one-man team whose defence is more Cannon & Ball than Costacurta & Maldini.
No matter which side of the fence you are on, there is no doubt that Pep Guardiola’s tinkering is not reaping the rewards that might be expected of this Messiah-like figure. Instead of reinventing football in England, he is making a team that reached the semi-finals of the Champions League earlier this year look like also-rans.
Watford will sense blood, and while they aren’t always the most convincing of sides they do at least know where the goal is (they have netted in five of their last six). That should come in handy against a Man City side that has conceded in 13/15 this term.
But the Hornets are capable of putting on their own comedy show of errors in defence, and we would expect the Citizens – even without Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho – to come up with the goods.
Man City Win & Both Teams to Score (13/8 with Betfair)
Tottenham vs Hull City (8pm)
Tottenham’s mini renaissance came to a rather depressing end with a toothless showing against Manchester United on Sunday, and it showed just how much work Mauricio Pochettino needs to do in order to restore his side to the heights they reached last season.
Even if they are mis-firing, to an extent, in the final third, they are back to full working order defensively now that Toby Alderweireld is back from injury. On Wednesday they face a Hull outfit that has lost their last five consecutive matches on the road, conceding 15 and scoring just twice. Things are not getting any easier for Mike Phelan and co.
Odd things can happen on a football pitch, but this selection looks to be an absolute no-brainer.
Tottenham to Win & Both Teams to Score: No (5/6 with bet365)
West Brom vs Swansea City (8pm)
Swansea are undoubtedly in a relegation battle, and the one thing that might just keep them up is their ability to score goals.
They’ve notched 19 – the same amount as Everton and only one less than Manchester United, but 13 of those have come at home. On the road they have lost five of seven and concede at a rate of greater than two per game: impressive.
What a joyous surprise it was to see West Brom at odds-against here then, probably as a reflection of their respective results at the weekend. But the Baggies must not be underestimated; they, more than anyone else, have come the closest to ending Chelsea’s winning streak, with victories over Leicester, Watford and Burnley in the last month highlighting the progress they are making under Tony Pulis this term.
There will be a certain confidence to Swansea’s play, but they are poor away from home while the Baggies have so many positives against their name right now.
West Brom to Win (11/10 with William Hill)