This is the busiest time of the year for top-flight clubs, and seasons can be made or broken during the Christmas period. There are nine fixtures to look forward to on Boxing Day, starting with bottom club Fulham’s game against Wolves. Crystal Palace look great value at 4/6 with Sky Bet, Ladbrokes and Coral to beat Cardiff. The Eagles are soaring after beating Man City 3-2 at The Etihad last time out, while Cardiff were thrashed 5-1 by Man Utd, so these teams appear to be heading in opposite directions. Man City need to get back to winning ways quickly, as they now trail Liverpool by four points in the title race, but they have a tough trip to Leicester to contend with and both teams to score looks tempting.
Unbeaten Liverpool host Newcastle, Man Utd play Huddersfield at Old Trafford, and Tottenham host Bournemouth, so that could make a nice treble. The late afternoon game sees Arsenal travel to the south coast to take on Brighton, and that should be an open, entertaining game, before Watford host Chelsea. Thursday sees Southampton bid to extend their winning streak to three games when they take on West Ham. Then there is a full round of fixtures to look forward to at the weekend, and managers will be forced to rotate their players due to the short gap between games. The pick of the weekend games sees table-topping Liverpool take on Arsenal at Anfield. It finished 1-1 between these teams at The Emirates earlier this season, but Liverpool will go for three points here in a bid to hold off Man City’s challenge.
The biggest race of the National Hunt season so far takes place at Kempton Park on Boxing Day. The greatest trainers, jockeys and runners in the National Hunt scene will converge upon the Surrey course for the Grade 1, £250,000 contest, and viewers should expect fireworks. The current favourite is Nicky Henderson’s 9-year-old Might Bite, who romped to victory in this race last year. He finished second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup to Native River, who will also contest the King George VI Chase. Betfair Chase winner Bristol De Mai is another of the leading contenders for this race and he could thrive if the going becomes sloppy. Also watch out for Waiting Patiently and Politologue, trained by Ruth Jefferson and Paul Nicholls respectively. Nicholls has won this race a record nine times, five of them thanks to Kauto Star, and he has likened Politologue to that superstar, which is fine praise indeed.
The big darts tournament continues to rumble on and we have already seen the likes of Raymond van Barneveld suffer shock eliminations. We are now approaching the business end of the competition, and the odds on outright wins are becoming more attractive as the contestants are more evenly matched. Look out for Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson, as both of these superstars are on a roll, while Dimitri can den Bergh continues to impress.
The third Test between these cricketing heavyweights starts on Christmas Day, and Australia are attracting a lot of attention at 11/10 with Bet365, William Hill and various others to secure victory. They leveled the series at 1-1 with a fine win last week, and that should give them confidence to go on and storm to another victory here. India will look to captain Virat Kohli for a big performance, and the 11/5 Paddy Power is offering on him being the top India batsman looks tempting.
The big game in Italy on Boxing Day sees league leaders Juventus take on Atalanta away from home. Juve have won 16 and drawn one out of 17 games so far this season, and they are looking invincible at present. Odds of 81/100 on a Juventus win at Marathon Bet look really attractive, as Atalanta are mid-table and have already lost seven out of 17 games so far this season.