Soccer Game Previews
Premiership Preview by Nigel Ridgway

Written by: Nigel Ridgway (21-12-2005)

A buffet-style Boxing Day feast awaits us with a full league programme guaranteed to tempt even the most jaded palettes. Of course, with so many games to choose from, it would be easy to get carried way on a tide of port and brandy, so we need to be selective. And, like a box of chocolates, the Premiership has something for everyone, with several home ‘bankers’, and a few games that require a little more chewing over.

A lazy punt would be to combine the likes of Chelsea (1/5), Man United (2/9), Tottenham (1/2) and Arsenal (8/11) in accumulators and, with our Premiership Accumulator Bonus, you can at least be assured of getting some additional value (up to 60% more). A $50 four-fold on the big three will return you just under $200 at the current prices, and that includes a bet365 bonus of 5%. If you’re happy to place singles, you might even beat those prices when the games go In-Play, especially on the likes of Chelsea, who’ve made a habit of winning their games late on. All but Spurs are live on TV, which means we’ll be offering up to 14 Live markets.

However, at the short prices on offer, you’re just as likely to collect by backing them to win by a couple of goals or more on our Asian Handicap. This form of betting consistently throws up some excellent value, particularly as we bet to just 102%, and you’re going to get more back than by having just a straight win bet. Taking United as an example, a bet on them at 1.90 (10/11) will cop if they win the game by three goals or more. If they win by only two clear goals, you’re still going to win (half your stake times the price, with the other half returned). The same applies to Chelsea (Evens), and you’ve got to fancy them to score well against Fulham. This might be a local derby, but the Blues are on a different planet.

Asian Handicap Picks: United (-1.75) @ 1.90 / Chelsea (-1.75) @ 2.00 at BET 365

Boxing Day, 3.00 ko, live on Sky Prem Plus…
As far as entertainment goes, the game at Anfield looks the pick of the programme and, with the all the hype surrounding the return of Michael Owen, we’re serving up a host of specials to mark the occasion. The Reds are favourites to win the game at 4/6, but the best bet could be on the ‘Total Goals’ instead. The Liverpool defence is proving to be impenetrable right now while, despite their strike force of Owen and Shearer, the Newcastle attack is producing only average results (Newcastle 9/2, Draw 12/5).

Live Game Pick: ‘Under’ 2.5 Goals @ 4/6 – Bet Live In-Play at BET 365

That also makes our 5/2 on Crouch to outscore Owen look attractive, which would have been unthinkable a couple weeks ago. The pair are 5/1 and 13/2 respectively to score the first goal in the game and, remember, if they don’t score first, but go on to score the last goal in the game instead, we’ll give you your money back. Of course, the rumour about Owen returning to Anfield for good next summer refuses to go away and, if you believe he’ll be pulling on a red shirt at the beginning of next season, you’ll be accommodated at 6/1 here at bet365.

Michael Owen Specials (Must start for bets to stand):
1st goal 13/2
Score anytime 7/4
Score 2 or more 9
Hat trick 50
Booked 10
Sent off 66

Goal Match Bet
Owen 10/3
Tie 4/6
Crouch 5/2

In the Championship, the top two teams both face potentially tricky Boxing Day ties, and we can cash in by backing the draw in each instance. Reading are romping away from the pack, but they could come unstuck against draw specialists Wolves, who are a hard side to score against. Only Sheffield United have conceded fewer goals at home this season. The Blades are short of strikers due to injuries, and could be kept in check by a resurgent Norwich side who’ve won back-to-back games and look to be on the upgrade. A double on the two draws pays out $102.30 for a tenner.

Boxing Day Championship Picks: Wolves & Sheffield United to Draw @ 21/10 & 23/10 respectively at BET 365

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