On paper, the Boxing Day fixture list seemed to pack few surprises in the Premier League, with all but one of the division’s top nine picking up three points.
The only side to lose was West Ham, who did so under mitigating circumstances – away at table-topping Chelsea.
However, while the results might suggest all of the candidates to claim a top-four spot this term are clicking into gear, in fact just the opposite is true of most.
Liverpool won 1-0 away at Burnley, but allowed the Clarets 16 shots to their 10, conceded eight corners to the two they won and were especially fortunate to see Danny Ings’ shot hit the post in the 14th minute.
The Reds remain seven points off the top four and 7/1 to make up that deficit by the end of the season, which looks unlikely based on their display at Turf Moor.
The story was a similarly fortunate one for Tottenham Hotspur away at Leicester, who picked up yet another scrappy 2-1 win courtesy of a Christian Eriksen winner.
Both the Dane and Harry Kane impressed again, but the Foxes were their own biggest enemies as they spurned chance after chance.
Spurs now face Manchester United and Chelsea, and two home losses could well be on the cards for the Lilywhites, who are 11/2 to grab a Champions League spot.
Finally there was Arsenal, who hosted a QPR side yet to collect so much as a point on the road.
The Gunners got their win – 2-1 – but had Olivier Giroud sent off and finished the game besieged by the Rs, who could have had a late penalty for a foul on Bobby Zamora.
Meanwhile, both Manchester United and Southampton swaggered to impressive wins – 3-1 over Newcastle United and Crystal Palace respectively.
With three of the four berths set to go to Chelsea and the two Manchester sides, backing anyone but Arsenal – 4/9 to make the Champions League once again – is risky, but of all the teams involved the Saints look the best bet.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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