Struggling for form and with their manager just sacked, West Brom look ripe for the taking. And that should mean goals according to Neil Harvey, who's also pinning his tail on Liverpool to put on a show against Leicester, as he explains now in this week's Overs or Unders...
"The Foxes could find themselves hunted down by a Liverpool team that’s ravenous for success. The Reds had been threatening to find form in recent weeks and that big win over Swansea suggests they’ve now done just that"
Manchester City v Sunderland - 15:00
I suppose it was inevitable that when Sunderland suffered an 8-0 thumping in October it would affect the manner in which they'd approach future away games. What few could have predicted though, is the extent to which they would then tighten the defensive screws. But four clean sheets in five away games since then tells the story. Manager Gus Poyet clearly took that heavy defeat to heart and has focused on making sure it never happens again.
Understandably though, Sunderland's creativity has suffered as a result - with the Mackems scoring just once in those four matches. And just spare a thought for the team's travelling fans. During that period, they travelled to four different cities and watched 360 minutes of football but witnessed just one goal in the process.
With Sunderland likely to lay out their stall, it looks like the scoring could be entirely down to City. The fact is though, the Blues have scored three goals just once in their last five home games and remain without their regular strikers. Against Burnley this week, Manuel Pellegrini's side did a Ukraine - and ran out gas - managing to throw away a two goal lead in the process. So for me, the value lies in the big price available on City not having the legs to run away with this one.
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 2.789/5
Aston Villa v Crystal Palace - 15:00
Crystal Palace are another team who like to grind away from home, content to pick up their points one at a time. And barring a 3-0 loss at Man City they have been very successful at it. Consequently, four of their last five away results have been low-scoring, including two 0-0s. Neil Warnock may have departed as manager, but that just leaves the team to operate on their default setting - which is defensive.
The emphasis therefore will be on Aston Villa to open things up. However that isn't something they've been good at this season. More than half Villa's home games to date have ended low-scoring. And just look what happened when Sunderland went to the Midlands in defensive mood last week. The result? A goalless draw.
That bodes poorly for Paul Lambert, whose side have scored just seven times in nine games at Villa Park, making them the joint-lowest home scorers in the Premier League. There's also only five points between these teams in the table, suggesting Villa are unlikely to dominate the game, and so may find goals hard to come by.
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.625/8
Another team to part with their manager over the festive period were West Brom, as they gave Alan Irvine the proverbial bullet in the hope of luring-in Tony Pulis.
Pulis will have a lot of work to do though and will not be able to instantly solve the problems of a side that's been in a defensive funk. Eight goals conceded in the last three matches shows just how baggy West Brom have become at the back. And if the likes of QPR and Stoke can put multiple goals past them, then it should be no major problem for a West Ham side who've scored in all but one of their 10 games at Upton Park.
The Hammers have already put three goals past the likes of Liverpool and Swansea this season. They're also enjoying their best campaign in decades and, buoyed by the confidence that comes with that, could potentially wreak havoc upon a West Brom side they'll be catching at a low ebb.
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.0621/20
Liverpool v Leicester City - 15:00
This week's 4-1 win over Swansea provided some welcome relief for Liverpool boss Brendan Rogers, who might be wondering how he's kept his managerial head when so many others around him are losing theirs. It provides real impetus though going into the New Year. And who better to face next than Leicester, to help keep that momentum going.
Bottom of the table, Leicester need to start rolling the dice if they're to get the wins they need to stay up. But while boss Nigel Pearson contemplates going on the offensive, the Foxes could find themselves hunted down by a Liverpool team that's ravenous for success. The Reds had been threatening to find form in recent weeks and that big win over Swansea suggests they've now done just that.
Raheem Sterling playing through the middle looks to have unlocked the creative door for Liverpool and I'm expecting them to put on quite a show at Anfield as they look to give something back to their suffering fans and at the same time get their year off to a flyer.
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.664/6
2014/15 Season P/L