Christmas is a time for giving and sharing. It is also a time for eating too much, socially accepted drinking before 10.00am and falling out with your family over a game of Trivial Pursuit.
Most importantly there are 40 Premier League ties in less than two weeks, giving you plenty of reasons not to visit yet another elderly relative.
The traders at Paddy Power love their job so much they’ve priced up a ‘Christmas mini-league’ to see which club will come out on top over the festive period. Here at the Paddy Power Blog, we’ve looked at some of the favourites and tried to figure out how many points they might rack up.
Man City 4/1
Fixtures: Fulham (A), Liverpool (H), Crystal Palace (H), Swansea (A)
- City have lost just once in their last 12 Premier League visits to Fulham
- Man City have won all eight of their league games at home, scoring on average, more than four goals every game
- Palace have won just once in their last 10 visits to Manchester City
- In their history City have just a 33 per cent win rate at Swansea City
On paper it looks like City’s toughest game is on Boxing Day against Liverpool, however taking the Citizen’s home form into account maybe that won’t be as tricky as first thought. Palace at the Etihad and Fulham away should be six points in the bag but a dodgy record against Swansea and some ropey away form might cost them a couple of points.
Fixtures: Chelsea (H), West Ham (A), Newcastle (A), Cardiff (H)
- Arsenal have lost the last three head-to-heads with Chelsea and have won just once in Chelsea’s last six visits to the Emirates Stadium
- The Gunners have won nine and drawn two of the last 11 matches against West Ham
- Seven of Arsenal’s last 12 games at St James’ Park have finished all square
- Cardiff haven’t beaten Arsenal in any of their last 12 games, a record that stretches back as far as 1961
It’s certainly not the easiest run of fixtures for Arsenal who are probably due their annual season collapse. Chelsea will be confident of taking three points away from the Emirates and while West Ham and Cardiff should be wins, a trip to Newcastle on December 29 might not be as profitable.
Man United 6/1
Fixtures: West Ham (H), Hull (A), Norwich (A), Tottenham (H)
- In the last five meetings between West Ham and Man United at Old Trafford, the Red Devils have won all five without conceding
- United have won the last seven games in a row against Hull
- Norwich have won two of the last three matches against Man United at Carrow Road
- United haven’t won in three games against Spurs and have won just two of the last six against the North London side
When United are the third most likely team to top the mini-league over Christmas you’d be inclined to question what the football traders have been smoking. However David Moyes has a fairly easy run and you’d expect a Manchester United of old to pick up at leat 10 if not 12 points here. However this isn’t the United of old and with our pessimistic hat on we’re going for a slightly lower tally.
Fixtures: Swansea (A), Sunderland (H), Southampton (H), Stoke (A)
- Swansea have faced Everton 17 times and never won. In the eight games in Wales, Everton have won seven and drawn one
- In the last 14 games between Everton and Sunderland at Goodison Park, the Toffees have won 10 and drawn four
- Southampton haven’t won in their last eight trips to Goodison Park with Everton winning six and the teams finishing level twice
- Three of the last four head-to-heads between Everton and Stoke at the Britannia have finished all square
The Toffees haven’t lost at home in the league in 2013 and if they can hold onto that record then they could top the festive league at a big price. Everton have a great recent record against both Sunderland and Southampton on home turf and the Merseyside club have never lost to Swansea in their history.
Fixtures: Arsenal (A), Swansea (H), Liverpool (H), Southampton (A)
- Arsene Wenger has gone up against Jose Mourinho nine times. The Frenchman has lost five times and drawn on four occasions
- Swansea have faced Chelsea away 12 times in their history. Chelsea have won eight of the clashes, the spoils have been shared three times and Swansea have won just once – back in November 1925
- In the last six league games between Liverpool and Chelsea, the Reds have won four and the sides have drawn twice.
- Chelsea have lost just once in their last six visits to St Mary’s Stadium, picking up 13 points from a possible 18
Chelsea have a tricky little run of Christmas fixtures but should get it off to a winning start away to Arsenal. They can pick up another three points at home to Swansea but Mourinho has just a 44 per cent win record against Liverpool and their shakey away form might hurt them as the fixtures come thick and fast.
Fixtures: Cardiff (H), Man City (A), Chelsea (A), Hull (H)
- Liverpool have won the last five games on the spin at Anfield, averaging exactly four goals a game
- In their last seven league visits to the Etihad Stadium, Liverpool have won just once, but managed to pick up a point on four occasions
- Liverpool have won four and drawn two from their last seven trips to Stamford Bridge
- Hull have faced Liverpool away eight times in their history – losing seven of them and picking up just the one draw
Liverpool’s odds look big to top the Christmas table, however with Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard missing, maybe the traders are spot on. All the same, two home ties against sides in the bottom half of the table and a trip to Stamford Bridge where they have fared well in recent years could make up for a hiccup at the Etihad.
In conclusion the traders have probably earnt their corn and correctly priced man City as favourites. They might not have the easiest fixture list but their incredible home form and depth of squad should see them top the mini-league. If you fancy a bit of bang for your buck Everton might be the bet at 13/2. The fixture list looks kind and a decent run of form from Roberto Martinez’s men can give you a decent run for your money as we enter 2014.
- STATS: Manchester United are kings of coming from behind while Chelsea like to be on top
- 10 of the most crappy football club Christmas presents 2013 (International edition)