The English football fixture list may wind up many a manager, but it gives us punters and pundits plenty to do while picking up wrapping paper and guzzling down all manner of beverages Uncle Fred brought back from Greece last summer (you get the drift).
It’s also a good time to assess the Premier League prospects of the great and the good, and the bad. Here are our Xmas winners and losers.
How much better will Sean Dyche’s boys be feeling following Ashley Barnes’ 81st-minute equaliser at Manchester City, after the Premier League champions went in at half-time 2-0 up and cruising?
Burnley may have only claimed one point from their three festive period fixtures, but considering they lost by sole goals against Liverpool and Tottenham, that’s not bad going.
They’ll be brimming with confidence ahead of January home matches against Crystal Palace and QPR. Could be a good time to get on Dyche’s charges at 6/4 for survival, no?
Louis van Gaal’s men are still in third, three points ahead of fifth-placed Arsenal, despite dropping four points on the road at Aston Villa and Tottenham.
United’s away form needs to improve rapidly, starting with Stoke next time out, but there was little disgrace in failing to beat a rapidly improving Spurs side at White Hart Lane.
Parts of the media called that 0-0 draw a dent in the Red Devils’ title hopes, although that was negated by City and Chelsea’s subsequent draws. All but the most deluded of United fans would bite Richard Scudamore’s hand off if he offered them third today.
The 1-0 win at Hull, the Foxes’ first since September, halted a run of six straight losses and pulled them to within three points of Steve Bruce’s side, Burnley and Crystal Palace, with West Brom also within shooting distance.
There could be life in the basement boys yet.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men have now secured 10 points from the previous 12 available, vaulting them up to seventh in the table and just two points behind Arsenal.
Chelsea at home on New Year’s Day will reveal just how much they’ve come on under the Argentine.
Five winless Premier League fixtures have been followed by two victories and a draw, with the point gained at home to Chelsea surely the most impressive.
Ronald Koeman’s Saints have hold of fourth again. They’re probably priced right at 9/2 to remain there or better by mid-May, but it’s proving one hell of a ride for the St Mary’s faithful.
The champions looked poised to make it 10 all-competition wins on the bounce against Burnley. They then ‘did an Arsenal’, completely self-destructing to allow one of the divisions nowhere men to snatch a barely-believable point.
How Jose Mourinho laughed. City are now 5/2 to retain the title. They should have been much, much shorter.
It’s now one win in 12 for the Tigers, and Bruce can only be a couple of bad reverses away from a stern meeting with Hull owner Assam Allam after spending plenty over the past 18 months or so.
With Everton, Arsenal (FA Cup), West Brom, West Ham, Newcastle and Man City as their next six fixtures, Hull must be feeling the heat.
‘You’re getting sacked in the morning’
Get used to hearing these six/seven words more and more Alan Irvine.
The Toffees have gone from being woefully inconsistent to just plain woeful, with six losses in their last eight outings all told.
Roberto Martinez looks safe, but his squad seems far from secure going into the January transfer window.
Suggestions that Everton could forsake their league form for a tilt at the Champions League-promising Europa League, which Martinez’s men are 14/1 to win, won’t be mooted by many now the Merseysiders are merely five points from 17th place.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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