So, we’re less than one week away from Christmas and I’m sure many of you are looking forward to spending time with your families during the festive season.
It’s at this time of year I like to see which players are deliberately aiming for Christmas off from their clubs, my money right now is on Scott Parker, one booking away from a ban and I don’t think there is any way he will get through the Sunderland match without picking up a caution.
Onto the football and the predictions:
Blackburn v West Bromwich Albion – 15.00
This first match is a tough one to predict, Blackburn seem to have picked up a small semblance of form recently and West Brom are one of the few Premier League sides they’ve actually managed to beat during Steve Keans tenure.
Blackburn fell apart to lose against Sunderland last week and fitness really does seem to be a concern there, over the last six matches, both of these sides have equal records, each side winning only once and that really isn’t encouraging.
I had a look at the over 2.5 market as Blackburn are capable of scoring goals and West Brom carry a threat as well but the odds are too low for me to think about placing a bet there.
So, this is a “no bet” match for me but purely for the purpose of giving a prediction, I’m going for a West Brom away win and an inevitable demonstartion against Steve Kean (why can’t I bet on that!).
Everton v Norwich – 15.00
Evertons chances in this one will rest greatly on Drenthe and Rodwell coming back from injury, they didn’t make it last week but it sounds as though they have a much better chance for this game. It took a peach of a goal from Robin Van Persie to beat Everton last weekend and once again they are looking a side that is hard to beat.
Norwich took three valuable points against a diminished Newcastle side last weekend but I doubt they will have it quite so easy this time around. Paul Lambert is continuing to show genuine managerial ability at this level to keep his Norwich side as high as they currently are.
Everton are around 1.7 to win this one, too low for me to be placing a bet but I do expect them to win.
Fulham v Bolton Wanderers – 15.00
Neither of the managers leading their sides into this one are covering themselves in glory right now. Martin Jol has shown old failings and seen his side concede late goals and the advantage in too many recent games. Owen Coyle hasn’t been able to cope with the injuries to his side and his team are currently sitting bottom of the table, 5 points from safety.
None of this bodes well for an entertaining match, not that the football gods often listen to such sensible thinking.
Going only with my gut feeling only, I’m expecting this game to contain at least four goals so my first bet of the week is in the over 3.5 goals market at 3.00 with Gamebookers.
Newcastle United v Swansea – 15.00
Once again, the starting mineups are going to be very important for this one, if Coloccini and Mike Williamson are fit, they will go straight back into the team and shore up what was a very rocky backline last weekend.
Of course, Swansea will be hoping that either one, or both, of those players won’t make it in time and if that is the case, they will feel they have a good chance in this match.
The bookies have Newcastle down as favourites for this one and they’re probably not wrong, I don’t have a solid feeling about them though so I’m certainly not going to back them, in fact I’m tempted to go the other way and back Swansea for an away win but in the end I think it’s another “no bet” match from me, Swansea to win though, just for predictions sake.
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Stoke City – 15.00
I’m not too impressed to say I got both of these sides wrong last week, I thought Wolves would hold out a little bit better against Manchester United and I didn’t think Stoke would beat Tottenham. No excuses.
This game looks like quite a hard one to read, Wolves will want to bounce back from a bit of a thrashing last weekend and Stoke will want to keep that winning feeling.
As a result, I will not be betting on this one and if you’re looking for tips, I suggest you look in the direction of the experts.
I think that Stoke have shown that they can juggle the demands of European competition and Premier League football and I think they might just make it 3 league wins on the trot.
Wigan v Chelsea – 17.30
This is probably the easiest of all the weekends matches to call, no-one would be surprised to see a Chelsea win here.
I think it’s a little early to say that Chelsea have turned the corner but last Mondays win against Manchester City was certainly deserved and if the ref had been a little more aware, the win could have been even bigger as there is no way Yaya Touré should have escaped a red card.
I’m personally surprised that Chelsea are allowing Anelka to leave on a free, Drogba is going to be away on African Nations Cup duty and it’s likely that Kalou will also feature in that competition. Anelkas departure will leave Chelsea with the misfiring Torres, the largely untested Lukaku and young Daniel Sturridge.
So, a Chelsea win but I’m not even bothering to look at the odds before ruling it out of any betting.