Side-by-side 8pm kickoffs on a Saturday. This is new.
There’s a feel of Champions League group stages about this isn’t there? Apart from the fact that we’re actually watching Sheffield United and Newcastle. Actually, who’s idea was it to put Newcastle on during the festive period?
Now, while these probably aren’t the key fixtures over the Christmas period to grab your attention, both do have very serious stipulations for the weaker sides – in so much as you feel like one more bad result could trigger the end of Chris Wilder’s time at the Blades, and Steve Bruce’s Geordieisms are running about as thin as Brown Ale out of a month-old keg.
Man City v Newcastle & Sheffield United v Everton, December 26: 12.30pm
BT Sport 1 & BT Sport 2
Both of these are in dire need of a result here, and while the 20/1 and a touch over 3/1 could make for a Christmas double to remember, I know full well you’ve already wasted far too much money on your in-laws for a speculative punt like that. No, no – what we need at this time of year is a nice little boost to the kitty rather than your older-than-you’d-initially-think uncle nudging you about a 500/1 shot floating around Down Royal on three legs.
Here’s a double to keep you out of trouble.
MORE TOP TIPS
- PHIL THOMPSON: My 9/2 Man Utd, Chelsea & Man City Boxing Day treble
- SUNDAY’S BIG ACCA: Our 20/1 bet for all FOUR Premier League games
- BOXING DAY SPECIAL BET: Our 17/2 treble from the Premier League, King George & NFL
- PHIL THOMPSON: My top tips for Liverpool v West Brom on Sunday
Man City v Newcastle
Well, you’re welcome to the 1/10 if you want it, but I quite like the idea of Gabriel Jesus putting the mask on again and pretending to be a top-tier striker now that Sergio Aguero was back on the bench against Arsenal midweek. That’s the eternal problem with Jesus. Many thought he was a perfect complement as a substitute, but his contributions were limited in that capacity.
He was handed the odd start and always produced, but when given an extended run, he’s looked nothing short of sub-par. It seems Jesus will really only produce precisely when he has to, and with his position in the team now in question again, you can be almost certain he’ll bag.
Is the long-term replacement for Aguero? Certainly not from where I’m standing, but when he knocks one in here against Newcastle, it’ll give Pep another straw to clutch at in his hope that Sergio’s replacement is already in-house.
Sheffield United v Everton
I have never known a team to gift the opposition goals quite like this Sheffield United side. It’s not even like they lost a tonne of big-name players from their previous campaign; they’re even getting more productivity out Dave McGoldrick, and that’s hard to do at the best of times.
So what exactly has gone wrong? Well, the intense focus of playing like they do appears to have been taken for granted, and without the same commitment and application levels required, it just looks a bit of a mess. One saving grace for them is that they’re facing a side almost as guilty at dropping points they shouldn’t, largely down to them being among the most ill-disciplined in the league.
Everton will have more than enough, but as ever, it won’t be the straightforward stroll to three points they’d like.
Paddy’s Boxing Day 8pm kick-off double
*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at time of publication but subject to change
BOXING DAY BEST BETS
- Goals galore expected as Leicester host Man Utd in Boxing Day opener
- Goal machine Tavernier to help Rangers beat Hibs
- EFL acca: Our 10/1 four-fold for Boxing Day’s big fixture list
- Premier League double: Our 14/1 bet for two 3pm kick-offs
- Celtic recovery to continue with win at Hamilton
- Chelsea to pile more misery on Arsenal in this 9/1 Bet Builder
SUNDAY’S TOP TIPS
- Burnley to blunt Leeds with Chris Wood on target
- Hot-shot Haller to help West Ham leave Brighton feeling blue
- There’s festive fun for Liverpool in this 14/1 Bet Builder v West Brom
- Wolves and Tottenham set for stalemate in Sunday’s late game