With the final strains of Auld Lang Syne a distant memory and hangovers the size of the Grand Canyon kicking in, January 1st is typically a day for bunkering down and doing very little.
But with a pair of intriguing Premier League fixtures to enjoy, there is at least an opportunity to make some money early doors in 2017 and get your betting year off to the best possible start.
Here is the pick of the New Year’s Day betting tips:
Watford vs Tottenham (1:30pm)
Watford are a strange old side. They never pull up any trees and yet, 18 months after getting promoted, they sit tenth in one of the most competitive leagues on the planet. They can’t really grumble with that.
But with just one victory in six, the Hornets have lost their early season buzz and are in danger of being drawn into a demotion battle if they don’t pick up some healthy results in January.
Welcoming Tottenham to Vicarage Road is a potential spanner in the works of that plan, although the good news for Watford fans is that their side’s home form (W3 D1 L1) is better than Spurs’ away (W0 D3 L2). Mind you, Tottenham’ last three away games have been against Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal, so we must cut them some slack.
They have also welcomed back the outstanding Toby Alderweireld recently too, while in contrast Watford’s injury list – Daryl Janmaat, Valon Behrami, Stefano Okaka, Isaac Success and Roberto Peyrera – has shorn the Hornets of some of their finest talents.
Football is a game of fine margins of course, but Watford deserved nothing from their 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace on Boxing Day. Christian Benteke missed a penalty of the Eagles, the Hornets were handed a soft spot-kick themselves and Wilfried Zaha should have been awarded the third penalty of the game after he was hauled down in the box late on. As we say, fine margins, but the sub-plot is that Watford were outplayed for the fifth time in six starts.
That said, they have an extra two days recovery time over Spurs, who have to travel to take on Southampton on December 28, and we have seen already how Mauricio Pochettino’s side have struggled with three games in a week given their Champions League frailties. The hosts, who have a habit of scrapping results at home, may just be worth getting on side.
Take Watford’s last three home matches and two of Spurs’ last trio of away days and we find both teams scoring. That informs us of the possibilities here.
Watford +0.25 Asian Handicap (67/40 with bet365)
Both Teams to Score (Evens with Betfair)
Arsenal vs Crystal Palace (4pm)
Usually, it is November when Arsenal’s title assault unravels, but the signs are perhaps it might be the festive period in which their traditional faltering takes place.
Defeats at Everton and Manchester City were compounded by a performance lacking imagination and craft against West Brom last time out; an 87th minute Olivier Giroud header nabbing the three points for the Gunners.
Palace have clearly already been galvanised by the appointment of Sam Allardyce, and they deserved to take home the points from their short trip to Watford on Boxing Day. No matter; the performance marked a huge improvement and greater resilience defensively; Big Sam’s trademark.
For all their occasional flashes of brilliance, Arsene Wenger’s men have struggled to break down resilient sides at times this term, as a combined tally of two goals against Burnley, Middlesbrough and West Brom testifies. There will be a red-and-blue striped bus parked in front of them on January 1st – will they find a way around it?
Clearly Palace will defend in numbers and attempt to break with pace (Zaha) and brawn (Benteke) and so a low-scoring affair is possible; a surprising turn of events considering the previous defensive generosity of this Palace side.