CHRIS Graham (@chrisgraham79) takes a look at the Premier League card on Boxing Day.
Bournemouth v Crystal Palace | Saturday 15:00
I took Bournemouth on last week and got my fingers burnt as they beat West Brom. I’m laying the blame for that loss firmly at the door of James McClean as the Irishman was sent off early in that match to hobble his club’s claims.
I’ll try and recover my losses by taking on the South Coast club again on Boxing Day when they host Crystal Palace. Eddie Howe’s side are short as 13/10 – it’s too short for me.
The Cherries go into this game up in 14th position after a run of three wins in a row and five undefeated matches. It’s good times at the Vitality Stadium.
I’m probably being a little harsh on Bournemouth but those recent victories have been against struggling opposition. Chelsea have been awful all season, Manchester United were riddled with injuries when they met them and as mentioned above West Brom were down to 10 men early in their match.
Yes, I’m nitpicking but I’m finding far more reasons to back Crystal Palace than an admittedly in-form Bournemouth side. At 21/10 they look decent value.
I’ve been a fan of Palace all season and the fact they’re in the Top 6 at Christmas doesn’t surprise me. Having backed them in the handicap I’d be sitting pretty it wasn’t for the antics of Leicester and Watford.
Alan Pardew’s side have 10 points out of their last 12 and have won nine of their 17 Premier League matches this season. That’s more than Manchester United and Tottenham.
Another big plus for Palace is their excellent away record. They sit Top 3 in the Away Table and have won five of their eight road trips. Only Leicester and Tottenham have beaten them on their own patch and the South London side have slain Chelsea, Liverpool and Watford on the road.
I’ll back Palace at +0.25 on the Asian Handicap here meaning that even a draw will return a half profit. The odds on that are 17/20 with Bet 365.
Chelsea v Watford | Saturday 15:00
It’s tempting to think that everything will be hunky dory at Chelsea now that the panto villain Jose Mourinho has exited stage left but I need more evidence than a clumsy win over Sunderland.
Imagine telling someone in August that just eight positions would separate Chelsea and Watford at Christmas. Their first reaction would be, “wow, Watford must be doing well” then imagine telling them that Watford were the ones in front. They’d fall off their chair.
The Hertfordshire club lie just one point off the Top 4 after racking up four consecutive wins and their rise to 7th place in the table is by no means a fluke.
Indeed it’s six wins in their last eight matches and their only defeats were one goal losses to an in-form Manchester United and Leicester. In truth it’s hard to find a poor result for the club this season and on all known 2015/16 form they should be more than a match for Chelsea.
Is Guus Hiddink the right man to steady the ship at Chelsea? Quite possibly. But the cold hard facts regarding Chelsea are that they lie in the bottom six of the table and have lost nine of their 17 matches.
I’m happy to get with Watford +1.25 on the Asian Handicap. A one goal defeat will gift me a half profit. Chelsea may have turned the corner but Watford simply should not fear them on Boxing Day.
Swansea v West Brom | Saturday 15:00
Just one win in 14 for Swansea yet they’re odds on with a clutch of bookmakers. What a Christmas rip-off! On Boxing Day they host West Brom and I’ll be backing the Baggies for the second straight weekend.
Garry Monk’s departure from the Welsh club hasn’t thwarted their poor form and the two matches since he left have been fruitless with regard to the win column.
Their 2-1 loss at Man City was a marked improvement but Manuel Pellegrini’s side are so inconsistent it’s hard to draw a firm form line from their matches.
Last weekend they drew 0-0 with West Ham at the Liberty Stadium and that’s a scoreline that hardly inspires when you consider how average the Hammers have been in recent weeks.
West Brom are five places higher than Swansea and bar that defeat last weekend against Bournemouth they haven’t lost since early-November.
As mentioned above their loss last week was strongly influenced by two sendings off they received and it’s to their credit that they pushed the Cherries all the way.
West Brom are 7/2 to win and that’s big when you consider how good they were in their last away match at Anfield. Why should they find Swansea too much?
The Baggies are 15/16 with BetVictor to avoid defeat and those odds look tempting. I’m expecting Swansea’s struggles to continue this festive season.
Bournemouth v Crystal Palace – Crystal Palace +0.25 (17/20 Bet365)
Chelsea v Watford – Watford +1.25 (4/5 Marathon Bet)
Swansea v West Brom – West Brom +0.5 (15/16 BetVictor)