West Ham’s test among reasons we can’t wait for festive fixtures

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Once the lights dim on tomorrow night’s clash between Stoke and Chelsea, the Premier League season can officially enter into the craziness that is the festive fixture list, which provides the fans an almost nonstop feast of footballing action and manager’s no end of headaches.

As one of those thousands of fans, we naturally can’t wait for a seven-day stretch that sees teams play three top-flight games, but we imagine Sam Allardyce is one manager who isn’t so pleased about the arrival of English football’s greatest traditions.

His West Ham side remain clinging to fourth spot as Christmas arrives, two points ahead of Southampton and 14/1 shots with Ladbrokes to qualify for the Champions League.

Whether the Hammers still enjoy the luxury of the top-four once the New Year has been ushered in remains to be seen. The Irons travel to face Chelsea on Boxing Day, a game they are 15/2 to win, before hosting Arsenal two days later.

Things get a dose easier for the apple of Russell Brand’s eye on New Year’s Day, with West Brom coming to town, but it’s clear this Christmas will be the biggest test of Allardyce’ season. That the former Bolton manager has already toppled Liverpool and Man City this term only makes the task all the more intriguing.

Tottenham must endure a similarly tough task – they face Manchester United and Chelsea following their Boxing Day battle with Leicester – Brendan Rodgers’ Reds have the chance to transform their fortunes with three juicy looking outings lined up.

The Anfield club have Burnley, Swansea and Leicester in their sights this festive season and could build some real momentum in their fight to finish in the top four, currently priced as a 6/1 chance.

Could Christmas also spell the end to a manager’s reign? No Premier League boss has been sacked heading into the congested festive season, but with games coming thick and fast, under-pressure managers like Steve Bruce could oversee their last match should results not go their way.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.