Huddersfield Town and Stoke still have plenty of work to do to secure Premier League status for next season. Kevin Hatchard fancies a lively home win.
"Eight of Stoke's last nine league games have featured three goals or more, and Huddersfield are scoring freely."
Huddersfield Town v Stoke City
Tuesday December 26, 15:00
Terriers on track to avoid the drop
We're halfway through the season in the top-flight, and Huddersfield Town are on course for survival, which would surely have been their main aim going into their first ever Premier League campaign. The Terriers have been able to rely upon their home form, only really falling short on home soil against the big hitters like Spurs, Manchester City and Chelsea.
However, the key to survival is often whether you can pick up a few points on the road to supplement those strong home results, and after a truly dreadful spell of away form, David Wagner's side has started to perform away from Yorkshire. A stunning 4-1 win at Watford was followed by a battling 1-1 draw at Southampton, a game Huddersfield came from behind in having come dangerously close to conceding a second goal.
Wagner says his side probably need 12 wins to survive, and they already have six on the board. They have won three of their last five home matches, including a superb victory against Manchester United. That game featured a winner from big Belgian Laurent Depoitre, who has hit a welcome purple patch in front of goal. He has scored in each of his last three Premier League matches.
Defiant Hughes has bought himself breathing space
Mark Hughes always had a bit of steel as a player, and he has stood up for himself admirably in recent weeks under huge pressure. The Welshman has insisted throughout a difficult period for Stoke that he has the full support of the club's owner Peter Coates, and that he deserves that backing for his previous good work.
Saturday's vital Midlands derby win over West Brom gave Hughes and Stoke a much-needed boost. It was only their second win in the last nine matches, and although the final scoreline was 3-1, it was a lot closer than that result suggests.
A big problem for the Potters has been their away form. They have only won once on the travels, and they have taken just a point from the last four away games. Another issue has been abject defending - Stoke have by far the worst defensive record in the league, with 40 goals conceded in just 19 outings.
Huddersfield worth backing, but with a bit of insurance
Huddersfield have generally struggled against the top teams, but done very well at home against sides you'd expect them to compete with. They have beaten West Brom, Brighton and Newcastle at the John Smith's Stadium, all sides that are currently in the bottom half.
Stoke are pretty wretched away from home, and even though they beat West Brom, it wasn't a convincing display.
You can back the hosts Draw No Bet at 1.84/5, and that feels like a fair price.
With Stoke in town, goals are always likely
Huddersfield have whacked in eight goals in their last four matches, and they haven't drawn a blank at home since late September.
Stoke have seen eight of their last nine Premier League matches feature three goals or more, so I'm more than happy to back that outcome at 2.226/5.
Laurent Depoitre is in great form, and should get chances against a struggling Stoke defence that didn't deal very well with WBA striker Salomon Rondon at the weekend. The Belgian is worth considering to score in 90 minutes at 23/10 on the Sportsbook.
On the Stoke side of things, Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting looked lively and scored against the Baggies, and my experience of him as a Bundesliga player was that he is streaky. If you think he'll stay hot, back him to score at a hefty 16/5.
Kevin Hatchard 2017-18 Premier League P/L
Points Staked: 30
Points Returned: 39.33
P/L: +9.33 points
Back Over 2.5 Goals at 2.226/5
Back Huddersfield Draw No Bet at 1.84/5