Arsenal 6.25/1 v Man City 1.584/7, the Draw 4.84/1
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Arsenal are on a great run but Manchester City are pulling away from their title rivals and will be confident of taking another three points in the first Premier League match of 2022.
Kevin Hatchard says: “I fear Arsenal’s fragility against top sides will come into play again here, and there’s an argument to back City/City in the HT/FT market at 2.427/5. City have conceded just two first-half goals in the Premier League this season, and nine of their last ten PL wins have seen them lead at half time and full time.
“In the reverse fixture, City were 3-0 up by half time, and if you look at Arsenal’s six PL defeats this term, they have trailed at the break in four of them.
“If you want a different angle that keeps City in your portfolio, you can back City to win and Raheem Sterling to have a shot on target at 1.8910/11 on the Bet Builder. Sterling has had at least three shots in each of his last four Premier League appearances, and when it comes to shots on target per 90 in the Premier League, Sterling is fifth in the whole league with a figure of 1.34.”
Kevin’s bet: Back Manchester City/Manchester City HT/FT @ 2.427/5
Sheff Utd 2.186/5 v Boro 3.65, the Draw 3.412/5
Live on Sky Sports Football
Middlesbrough boss Chris Wilder returns to Bramall Lane to take on Championship play-off rivals Sheffield United.
Mark O’Haire says: “Sheffield United boast a strong Bramall Lane record against Middlesbrough, picking up seven wins from their past nine league meetings here against the Teessiders (W7-D1-L1) going back to 1987, although this is the first such showdown here since 2018/19. Even so, Boro were 2-0 victors in the reverse encounter back in September.
“United have arguably been the Championship’s biggest underachievers. However, the Blades are beginning to find form. Expected Points (xP) ratings suggest the hosts have been the fifth best team in the division with United also returning the sixth-best Expected Goals (xG) ratio return. The home side have W9-D3-L5 since September.
“Middlesbrough have made immediate improvements under Chris Wilder’s tutorship. The hosts have W5-D2-L1 under the new boss’ watch, with Boro ranking inside the top-four for the majority of performance data metrics during those eight fixtures. The guests also come into this contest with a respectable W5-D5-L2 record against fellow top-half teams.”
Mark’s bet: Back under 2.5 goals @ 1.758/11
Spurs remain unbeaten in the Premier League under Antonio Conte while Watford have lost five in a row.
Dave Tindall says: “One thing Conte hasn’t managed yet since taking the reigns is an away win. This is obviously a great opportunity to change that. For starters, only Norwich have lost more home games than Watford (six) this season. Secondly, the hosts have won just one of their last 17 games against Tottenham, losing 10 of those.
“The problem with taking Spurs at a short price is that they’ve managed just two away wins and scored only six goals on the road. That’s the second fewest in the league.
“That stat has to change though and I’m going to back the visitors to win this with something in hand. Therefore head to the handicaps and take Tottenham (-1) at 2.89/5.”
Dave’s bet: Back Tottenham (-1) @ 2.89/5
The visitors’ problems at the back mean our League One expert is confident that Oxford can keep winning here.
Alan Dudman says: “Cheltenham are conceding too many goals for my liking, with six games yielding 18 goals at the wrong end. A figure that will worry layers on the Exchange by going against the goals, as Oxford have hit 26 at home. They’ve scored three or more in a match on five occasions and one includes a 5-1 drubbing of Accrington.
“Overs are pretty short, with the 2.5 at 1.774/5, so it might be worth playing the Over 3.5 @ 3.814/5, and look to Taylor to Score Anytime on the Sportsbook at 7/5. Doubling him up with an Oxford win pays 2.9215/8 using the Bet Builder.”
Alan’s bet: Back Oxford to win and over 2.5 goals @ 2.226/5
Our League Two tipster thinks the refreshed Bantams can take the points when they go to Barrow…
Ian Lamont says: “Barrow netted twice to beat Swindon, on December 11, Ollie Banks and Josh Gordon supplying the goods. At least Bradford score once per game. The Bluebirds were dominated by Oldham for long periods in their goalless draw on Wednesday. Will Robbie Gotts – as much as Jordan Stevens – save his goals for the FA Cup at Barnsley next weekend? Ozzy Zanzala offered something when coming on against Oldham.
“Will such an injection be enough to hold Bradford, who will surely look at this as a chance for a long overdue win? After all, as Opta say, Bradford haven’t lost their first fixture of the calendar year in the past five, winning four.”
Ian’s bet: Back Bradford @ 3.185/40
There’s a London derby on the box on New Year’s Day and the good news is that matches between these two often produce goals at both ends.
Paul Higham says: “Each side is playing to their strengths with the Hammers having been better on the road then at the London Stadium, but also Palace being a different side on home turf than away – winning 17 of their 23 points at Selhurst Park and scoring twice as many while conceding only half as much.
“These two rank third and fourth in terms over over 2.5 goals in matches, having 12 of their 19 going higher and making the overs favourite here at 1.9210/11 but probably still worth backing.
“As is both teams to score, with each of the last nine league meetings seeing both of them find the net – only three fixtures have had longer streaks – so while 1.748/11 on it happening again won’t make you rich it’s a must-have in your Bet Builders.”