WILLIE DUNCAN (@Willie_Duncan) runs the rule over Boxing Day's early Premier League kick-off between Watford and Crystal Palace.
Watford v Crystal Palace | Boxing Day 12:30 | Sky Sports 1
You may not have noticed, but Christmas is just around the corner.
Once we’ve unwrapped all of our presents, eaten all the turkey that a person can take in a single sitting and polished off the mulled wine, it’ll be Boxing Day before we know it.
For football fans, of course, there is plenty of action to overindulge in during the festive period and even though your favourite Christmas song will barely have finished playing and, for a few of you, the hangover will, very much so, still be hanging around, it’s an early start to the Boxing Day bonanza from the Premier League.
The lunchtime kick-off comes from Vicarage Road as Watford play host to Crystal Palace and the home side look to be well worth backing in this one – provided that they can shrug off a disappointing run of results that has seen Walter Mazzarri’s men beaten in four of their last five.
The solitary victory during that run, of course, came earlier this month when the Hornets took all three points from their meeting with Everton at Vicarage Road and I think home comforts could well be the key for Watford here.
Mazzarri’s charges have lost just one of their last six league games on home soil – against Stoke at the end of November – and the Hornets have taken full points from three of their last four fixtures on their own patch; here, they’re up against a side that are desperately short of form.
Alan Pardew’s side have won just one of their last 11 matches in the Premier League and the Eagles have picked up just two points from their last five fixtures away from Selhurst Park.
It’s not down to a lack of goals that Palace are having so many problems on the road; the south Londoners have scored 11 goals in their last five games on their travels – but, at the other end, Pardew’s men have shipped 14 in their last four games away.
Against any opposition, that would be a worrying statistic but those goals have been shipped against Leicester, Burnley, Hull and Swansea; all teams in the bottom six of the Premier League– alongside Palace, of course.
Watford, who have scored in all but one of their last 12 league games on home turf, will surely relish the opportunity to get stuck in and Mazzarri’s men could well pick up a belated Christmas present courtesy of Palace’s benevolent defensive unit.
Backing the Hornets at 29/20 (Marathon), therefore, is the recommended play for punters ahead of Monday’s match from Vicarage Road.
Watford v Crystal Palace – Watford to win at 29/20 (Marathon)