Arguably the best Christmas gift any football fan can get is the Premier League’s Boxing Day fixtures, which are always a feast for fans. This year’s fixtures hold drama at both the top and bottom of the table, headlined by Manchester United vs Aston Villa.
Boxing Day football Correct Score betting: our predictions
Newcastle United vs Nottingham Forest
After running Manchester City and Arsenal close, Luton finally got their big scalp at Kenilworth Road, as Andros Townsend scored to continue the Magpies’ troubles on the road. Nottingham Forest were valiant in defeat against Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon, and will be encouraged by Newcastle’s recent slump in form that has seen them claim just one win in their last five matches.
However, St James’ Park has been a fortress for Eddie Howe’s men. They sit 17th in the away table, but only Aston Villa have claimed more points on home turf this season than Newcastle. Even amidst their poor recent form, they dispatched Fulham 3-0 in their most recent home game.
The underlying data also suggests that Newcastle have been unfortunate this campaign, and not just with injuries. Newcastle’s expected goal difference per 90 minutes is 0.73, the fourth best in the division. They sit three places lower in the actual league table, an underperformance that is unlikely to continue.
The Magpies’ injury list is also slowly starting to shorten after a trying few weeks on Tyneside. With the St James’ crowd roaring them on against a Forest side that Nuno Espirito Santo has had only a matter of days to work with, expect Newcastle to win this early kickoff comfortably.
Our prediction: Newcastle United 3-0 Nottingham Forest
Sheffield United vs Luton Town
Perhaps the game with the biggest ramifications on Boxing Day is going on right at the foot of the Premier League table. Luton Town could, with three points, climb out of the relegation zone should Nottingham Forest fail to take anything from Newcastle. Sheffield United could go level on points with their opponents should they win.
Both sides come into this with surprise positive results. Luton defeated Newcastle, and Sheffield United claimed a miraculous point at Villa Park after Manchester City and Arsenal had failed to do so.
The stakes are high. A draw does little for either side, so expect both to go for it. Both have two of the leakiest defences in the league. Luton’s win over Newcastle was their first ever top flight clean sheet, so goals are on the cards. But with both sides fairly evenly matched, a draw is the most likely outcome.
Our prediction: Sheffield United 2-2 Luton Town
Manchester United vs Aston Villa
Just when Manchester United seem to have hit rock bottom, the ground underneath them seems to shift and collapse, allowing them to plumb ever lower depths. Their 2-0 defeat at the hands of West Ham United in Saturday’s early kickoff was one such case. By the time Simon Hooper called time on proceedings, it had been over six hours since Ten Hag’s players had managed to hit the back of the net: their longest dry spell since 1992.
Their opponents in this 8pm kickoff have had no such issues this season. Ollie Watkins alone has more Premier League goals than United’s entire attacking compliment. Rasmus Hojlund could only dream of the quality and regularity of service that the England striker gets from his teammates.
Villa suffered a rare setback in their 1-1 draw with strugglers Sheffield United on Friday night. As Arsenal and Liverpool drew the day after, Villa could’ve been top for Christmas Day with a win, and they will surely be kicking themselves. Unai Emery will likely use this disappointment to fire his players up for an opportunity to improve Villa’s poor record at Old Trafford.
The Villains only have four wins in 68 visits to the red side of Manchester, but with Ten Hag’s men only claiming two wins in their last six home games, they couldn’t be playing them at a better time. Expect Villa to bounce back in style.