Boxing Day Premier League 3pm Tips: Villa to make quick amends
The festive footy season is in full swing and Mike Norman fancies a trio of teams to win on Boxing Day, including victories for a couple of new managers...
Villa to bounce back
Aston Villa2.20 v Norwich 3.40; Draw 3.95
Aston Villa were very poor, especially defensively, in Saturday's 1-3 defeat to fellow strugglers Southampton, a result that saw Dean Smith's men fall into the relegation zone.
I'm still convinced that Villa are a better team than their league position suggests however, but I fancy Boxing Day's home game against Norwich will confirm once and for all whether they are (or not) as good as I think they are.
Put simply, Villa have to react to Saturday's defeat and put in a performance good enough to beat the Canaries, though their cause hasn't been helped by the news that midfielder John McGinn will be out for three months with a fractured ankle.
Some might say that Norwich are in a similar situation to Villa, but I disagree. Daniel Farke's men were expected to lose to Wolves on Saturday, they've always been in the relegation zone, and they are the overwhelming favourites for the drop.
That's quite a contrast to Villa who have been above the drop zone all season, were expected to beat the Saints, and have never been one of the three favourites in the Relegation market. Until now.
I just feel that Saturday's defeat, and dropping into the relegation zone, has to have acted as a huge wake-up call for Smith's men, and that we'll see an instant reaction on Boxing Day.
Let's not forget that Villa beat Norwich 5-1 in the reverse of this fixture, and if they perform to the best of their abilities then they really ought to get back to winning ways against a team that has won just one of their last 13 games and have generally been very poor on the road.
Arteta to start with a win
Bournemouth3.75 v Arsenal 2.04; Draw 4.00
There have been some crazy results in the Premier League this season, and Bournemouth added to the list that includes Norwich beating Manchester City and a massively out-of-form West Ham beating in-form Chelsea away from home by winning at Stamford Bridge themselves just last week.
The Cherries went into their trip to Chelsea having lost five straight games and with a mounting injury list, but somehow managed to grab a 1-0 win. Fast forward a week and Eddie Howe's men would lose at home to Burnley.
So we could say that Bournemouth are inconsistent, but six defeats in seven games actually marks them out as a team massively out of form. They've lost their last three at the Vitality Stadium and scored just a single goal in the process. And what's more, they still have that long list of injuries.
So given what I've said I'm happy to take the Cherries on by backing Arsenal to grab a much needed win on Boxing Day.
The Gunners aren't exactly in sparkling form themselves but it's perhaps gone a little unnoticed that they're unbeaten in their last four away games, scoring seven goals in three consecutive road trips prior to Saturday's 0-0 draw at Everton.
If you compare the two sides then you'd have to say Arsenal have a lot more quality than Bournemouth, and on current form - Bournemouth at home v Arsenal away - then the Gunners come out on top also.
Consider also the 'new manager bounce' and the fact that Arsenal have won the last three meetings between these two sides by an aggregate score of 8-2, then at a price above even money I think it's well worth backing Mikel Arteta getting off to a winning start.
Ancelotti to start with a comfortable win
Everton1.75 v Burnley 5.50; Draw 4.00
There's no secret to Burnley's success, in fact there hasn't been a secret to it for a few years now. The Clarets' game is based around a supremely organised defence, and if they get it right on any given day then they normally win.
In fact Sean Dyche's men have won seven league games this term. Take a guess at how many goals they've conceded in those seven victories? Well done if you said none! Scorelines of 3-0, 2-0, 1-0, 3-0, 3-0, 1-0 and 1-0 are how Burnley have gone about winning games this season which means one thing; if they concede a goal then they simply don't win.
What's more, and very unlike Burnley of recent seasons, when they don't win they are conceding bags of goals - three against Sunderland in the cup, three against Liverpool and Sheff Utd, four against Man City and Chelsea, five against Spurs. True, some big teams named there but conceding two against the likes of Palace and Villa is another indication that the Clarets are conceding too many goals this term.
So based on this season's trends the questions I've asked myself are, can Burnley keep a clean sheet against Everton, and will the Toffees do what other teams have done when the Clarets concede and score two or three?
Given Everton's upturn in form since they sacked Marco Silva, and that they could have a 'new manager bounce' themselves following the appointment of the very successful Carlo Ancelotti, then I have to believe that Burnley won't keep a clean sheet at Goodison Park - which as we know means they won't win - and that the Toffees have every chance of scoring a few goals in this encounter.
It's a bet based on a gut feel and trends, but backing Everton -1 at above 2/1 seems very likely to give us a good run for our money.