Premier League - Boxing Day 2018 - Spread Preview
Premier League Boxing Day Preview: Three Festive Crackers
Unrivalled in the richness of its tradition, Boxing Day is an immovable feature of English football, and has brought some unbelievable moments in times gone by. Here we will take a look at three standout Premier League matches, all of which we believe have the potential to excite and enthral!
Manchester United v Huddersfield
With Jose Mourinho now gone and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer now in temporary charge of the 20-time league champions, United will need to benefit from the ‘bounce effect’ that a new manager can bring to a club. Unusually, United found themselves with a negative goal difference ahead of their clash with Fulham on 8 December, and remain well-adrift of the last Champions League spot.
Prior to the sacking of Mourinho, United had conceded 29 times in 15 matches (1.70 goals per match on average), which compared favourably to only those languishing in the bottom five. Prior to their trip to Cardiff, United’s supposedly ‘tight’ defence had attained only two clean sheets in the league overall.
Having won only 50% of their home league matches so far, United have at least upped their efforts in the final third, netting twice or more in seven of their last ten Premier League games overall, but three of those have produced a 2-2 scoreline – the same produced exactly a year ago, as United failed to take full points from Burnley, in what was a perceived ‘Boxing Day Banker’ at Old Trafford. Naturally though, David Wagner’s Huddersfield will need to score first to give themselves the best chance of silencing the Stretford End.
As ever, goals have been in short supply for Huddersfield, with the ‘Terriers’ failing to score more than once in 16 of their first 17 league matches this season, and their tally of ten goals scored by that point was the PL’s lowest by some distance. Huddersfield’s best hope of a result is, arguably, Aaron Mooy. The Australian international has recently showed glimpses of last season's excellent form, particularly in his side’s win at Wolves on 25 November. That winning brace from Mooy could make all the difference come the end of the season, but the fact remains that the Yorkshire club’s points-per-game efficiency is approaching the danger zone.
Leicester v Manchester City
The blue half of Manchester was given an excellent game by Leicester in the recent round of EFL Cup quarter finals. Though this was a dress rehearsal that City managed to negotiate, the King Power Stadium is a venue to be respected. Prior to their recent 1-0 defeat at Selhurst Park, the ‘Foxes’ were six league games unbeaten, thanks largely to a run of three clean sheets. In addition, Claude Puel’s men had found the net in five of them. In contrast to their opponents’ form, Leicester are in the habit of conceding first, doing so in 11 of their first 17 league matches.
The tally of 44 points City attained in their first 17 games of the season was just five short of the same amount Pep Guardiola’s men had at the same point in 2017/18. Though City went into the final round of pre-Christmas matches off the summit, the champions will still go into the New Year with a league-high of goals per match – projected to be around 3.40 by Boxing Day.
Still title favourites in Premier League Spread Betting long term market, City are unlikely to slip up now, having not conceded multiple goals in a league away game in 14 matches, prior to their recent defeat at Stamford Bridge.
Fulham v Wolves
This was stated as a ‘relegation six pointer’ prior to the start of the season. However, it is only Fulham who will see it that way, as they look to bounce back after a demoralising 2-0 home defeat to West Ham. Wolves, by contrast, are doing exceptionally well, and with Fulham’s home points-per-game average subsequently dipping further towards a value below 1.00, it is Wolves that will be the more confident side.
Though Fulham can only improve under Ranieri, the West London side’s tendency to concede early at home remains a real weakness. The ‘Cottagers’ currently have a -6 goal difference from the opening half-hour of games at Craven Cottage, but even more infuriatingly for some Fulham fans, Ranieri’s home goal difference in the minutes between the half-hour mark and half-time is +4. Overall, Fulham have now conceded one or more first-half goals in all but one of their last ten league matches.
While Fulham’s matches have been entertaining, this Boxing Day meeting with fellow newcomers Wolves offers no guarantees. Only four of Wolves’ first 15 league games saw three or more total goals, which was a league low at the time. At that time, only Tottenham, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City had conceded fewer goals than Wolves, but it isn’t just defensive pragmatism alone that is giving Wolves a reputation as a dark horse for European football in 2019/20.
Wolves striker Raúl Jiménez has also established himself as something of a talisman, having created or scored close to 50% of Wolves’ league goals so far this season. Nuno Espirito Santo’s men have also forged a reputation for finishing matches strongly, with Matt Doherty’s last-minute winner at Newcastle notably being the sixth time this season that Wolves had scored after the 75th minute .
Will Ole Gunnar Solskjaer receive the perfect present on Boxing Day in his Old Trafford homecoming? Will Fulham secure a much-needed home win, or will they find themselves further cemented in the relegation places? Sporting Index has you covered for all your Football Spread Betting needs this Boxing Day.