A new year brings renewed hope, fresh optimism and a sense that the next 12 months are ours for the taking.
How long that attitude lasts is anybody’s guess, but we can certainly kickstart January in fine fashion with some sensible betting on the fixtures of January 2.
Here is the pick of the Premier League betting tips:
Middlesbrough vs Leicester City (12:30pm)
One team that many expected to be embroiled in a relegation battle; another who many did not. Aitor Karanka has shaped his Middlesbrough outfit into a side that is tough to beat, but ultimately that may not be enough for the Tyneside team to avoid the dreaded drop. A series of 0-1 defeats to the likes of Watford, Southampton and Burnley – three games in which they would expect to take something – can cast the die.
The fate of Leicester City is rather more surprising. Most expected them to drop off to some extent this term compared to their heroics of 2015/16, but the fallout has been extraordinary. From champions to the Championship in 12 months? It’s looking increasingly possible.
The Foxes’ woes have been compounded on the road – they are yet to win away from home this season, and so two sides trying desperately not to lose will meet on January 2. What does that mean for punters?
A low scoring contest, presumably, but with Under 2.5 Goals priced at 8/15 and Both Teams to Score (No) at 7/10, clearly there is little of interest to be enjoyed. So let’s try something a little more speculative: a 1-0 correct scoreline both ways, which has landed in five of the Boro’s last eleven starts.
Manchester City vs Burnley (3pm)
A side that has lost just one match on home soil this term takes on another without a win on the road: this is an open and shut case, isn’t it?
Well, yes: Burnley are conceding at a rate of two goals per game on their travels and are simply allowing their opponents to dominate proceedings. Against the likes of Hull that’s no problem, but Manchester City? Not so smart.
The Citizens have crashed in 17 goals in their nine matches on home soil and nine in their last four anywhere – without Sergio Aguero. The Argentine is back from suspension and will be chomping at the bit for his first start in front of his own adoring public for some time.
Man City to Win & Over 3.5 Goals (23/20 with Betfair)
Sunderland vs Liverpool (3pm)
If Sunderland are to avoid relegation this term then their home form (W3 D1 L5) will need to improve significantly, and with a new year comes new beginnings. The next month or so will be key in determining the Black Cats’ fate.
The bad news is that their first home assignment of 2017 is Liverpool, a side that has shown an unerring appetite for points on the road – 20 points from a possible 30 is impressive stuff.
Sunderland have won three of their last four home matches, but there is a caveat here: those were against Hull, Leicester and Watford, and in more pressing assignments – Chelsea, Arsenal and Everton – they have fallen short. David Moyes’ men need to start raising their game against the division’s big boys.
The Reds have netted seven goals in their last trio of away games, and with Philipp Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge nearing full fitness you would expect Jurgen Klopp’s side to find the net with ease once again here.
Liverpool -1 Handicap (Evens with Coral)
West Brom vs Hull City (3pm)
Hull continue to put in a series of spirited displays, but passionate performances can only go so far; you need a bit of quality at this level of the game too. The Tigers have conceded in 17/18 outings this term, including 21 in nine on the road, and have failed to score in four of their last five as well. Is the writing on the wall for Mike Phelan’s side?
West Brom have lost a few matches recently but closer inspection – 0-1 to Chelsea, 0-1 to Arsenal and 0-2 to Manchester United – suggests they have nothing to worry about really. Barring the loss to the Red Devils, the Baggies have put four past Burnley and three apiece by Watford and Swansea, so form at the Hawthorns is not too hard to find.
Hull have scored once in their last six away outings, which suggests a lack of adventure on their part (who can blame them in their predicament?). That will play into West Brom’s hands.
West Brom to Win to Nil (9/5 with Paddy Power)
West Ham vs Manchester United (5:15pm)
One of the Premier League’s biggest improvers of late has been West Ham, who have enjoyed a fine December to at least bring a festive smile to the faces of their long-suffering supporters.
The fear that the move to their new Olympic Park home would derail them have been dampened somewhat with a run of W3 D1 L1, and with the likes of Andy Carroll coming back to full fitness the Hammers should continue to improve exponentially in the coming weeks.
Mind you, it is not as if Manchester United have struggled recently, is it? The last time they lost in the Premier League was October 23 against runaway leaders Chelsea, and prior to that they last tasted defeat on September 18. Any suggestion that the Red Devils are somehow underperforming under Jose Mourinho is lunacy. They’ve been good on the road too (W5 D2 L2), so a trip to London will hold no fear.
This has the feel of one of those matches where any result is possible, so let’s try something a little different: in nine of their last ten combined matches, the half-time score has been either 0-0 or 1-0 – eight of which were 1-0. It’s an unusual market but one which might just work.