Simon is hoping to end the year on a high with two Premier League picks, including Newcastle's main goal threat to open the scoring against QPR on SaturdayWe are coming into a making or breaking period of football over the Christmas and New Year holidays.
While we will all be sitting back with our feet up, gorging on mince pies and mint Baileys (just me?), the country’s footballers will take to the fields like the true, ahem, professionals that they are and put on a show for us.
Most teams will play at least four times over the festive period and this is where the season can really turn as fatigue and injuries play their part.
On the other hand, teams who have come into form around this time can see themselves coming out the other side in a much elevated position in the league and with the confidence to finish the season in style.
Much of the same can be said for punters too; whether you are in a position of profit already or not, you will be looking to capitalise further, but a few poor results is all it takes to derail the profit train, so it is time to tread with care.
By this time, after 17 games, there is enough form and statistics to delve into to ensure your bets are well informed at least.
There is nothing more dangerous than the blind punt at this time of year. Well, apart from the post-Christmas party, drunk-beyond-belief, bet, of course. But we encourage responsible gambling here at Goal.com, so I shall practice what I preach and put down the punch.
My first bet of the weekend is an old favourite and one that you can apply a decent level of research to, in order to minimise risk – a both teams to score double.
Both Teams to Score Double: Wigan v Arsenal and West Ham v Everton at 8/5 (2.60) with Paddy Power
At home, Wigan have seen 78 per cent of their games involve both teams scoring and, in fact, only one of their nine home games has seen the away side score less than two.
Arsenal on the other hand have witnessed 55% of their away games with both teams scoring and are by far one of the most mentally fragile sides in the league – even against Reading, when cruising, they still managed to ship two goals in the second half.
The West Ham v Everton game’s stats cry out even more with 67% of the Hammers’ home games seeing both teams score and a whopping 78% of Everton’s road games trips doing likewise. But it is when you look at the head-to-head stats that this bet is firmed up, with all seven of their most recent meetings seeing both teams score.
The double pays out at 8/5 (2.60) and I will be having £20 of my bankroll on it.
Demba Ba to score first at 9/2 (5.50) with Paddy Power
My second bet of the week is in the Newcastle v QPR match. The Magpies are struggling at the moment and have dropped to 15th in the league, scoring just 19 times in 17 games.
Alan Pardew’s much-maligned eight-year deal is starting to look a bit more like a sentence than a contract and they really need to get a couple of results over the Christmas period.
They will be thankful of a visit from QPR on Saturday as, despite their victory against Fulham, they have been largely poor this season and have shipped 30 goals already. Only three teams out do them in this regard.
Whilst this will no doubt be a tight affair, I do see Newcastle getting a much-needed result and more importantly I see the in-demand Demba Ba leading the way.
He has scored 11 of Newcastle’s 19 goals and of those 11, eight of them have been the first goal. He is best priced with Paddy Power at 9/2 (5.50) to score first on Saturday and considering his goalscoring exploits of late, this is excellent value. £10 of my bankroll is going on this.
Win a free £20 bet
Well done to Luke Saunders who won this week's free bet with a double on the Manchester clubs to win last weekend at a shade over Evens (2.0). If you would like to enter this week's competition just email firstname.lastname@example.org with your best weekend tip and price and use "Free20" in the subject line to enter.
Entry is open to residents of the UK and Ireland and is limited to one entry per person, the winner must have a valid Paddy Power account to claim the prize and the editor's decision is final. Good luck!
Balance at the start of the week: £410.30
Profit on the season: -£89.70
|Both Teams to Score Double: £20 at 8/5 (2.60) with Paddy Power
|Demba Ba to score first: £10 at 9/2 (5.50) with Paddy Power|
|Total staked this week: £30|
Sign up with Paddy Power for up to £250 in free bets
Simon Pilkington is a sports writer, an avid supporter of Liverpool and has been betting on sports for the past 13 years. Follow Simon on
Follow Goal.com Betting on for the latest tips.