The 5 Football League crackers you need to watch this Christmas
We know what Boxing Day is like. Nan is snoring on the sofa, you’re eating turkey for the fourth meal on the bounce and you’ve just heard Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ for the fiftieth time. But don’t worry – the football is here to save us!
There’s a hatful of fantastic fixtures across the EFL on Boxing Day and beyond. So we’ve put our heads together to find the five games you can’t miss. And we kick off with a crucial battle between promotion hopefuls at St James’ Park…
Newcastle United v Sheffield Wednesday (December 26, 19:45)
Currently top and with nine points breathing space above the play-off spots, many already consider the Magpies to be all-but-promoted, with our traders making it a 1/50 shot they head back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
But Wednesday could seriously shake up the promotion race on Boxing Day, having won here on their last visit – a 1-0 League Cup triumph last season. And having won four of their last five in the league, the visitors are a decent price to pull off an upset again.
Best Bet: Sheffield Wednesday to win @ 19/4
Derby County v Birmingham City (December 27, 15:00)
Talking of promotion hopefuls, either of this pair could potentially make it into the play-off spots if results go their way over the next week.
The Rams may be in impressive form right now, but this fixture has a habit of throwing up surprises. In fact, the home side hasn’t won in any of the last six meetings.
One thing you can rely on though, are goals. None of the last 26 meetings have ended goalless, with a dramatic 3-3 draw back in February 2014 the best of the recent bunch. Expect to be glued to this one throughout.
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals @ 11/10
Bradford City v Scunthorpe United (December 26, 15:00)
The Iron have been exceptional so far this season, but fourth-placed Bradford will be desperate to shrink the gap between themselves and the automatic promotion spots when they face the current table-toppers.
The visitors are in the better form heading into this clash, but it’s Stuart McCall’s side who have come out on top in the last two meetings, with a pair of wins to nil.
However, with Scunthorpe having won seven of their last ten on the road, we reckon they’ll edge a tight and high-quality game between two of League One’s most gifted outfits.
Best Bet: Scunthorpe to win by 1 goal @ 4/1
Port Vale v Walsall (December 26, 15:00)
Though they’re not hugely close geographically, there’s no doubting this pair are genuine rivals. And there’s nothing quite like a Boxing Day derby. Oh, and the hosts will be desperate for revenge.
Walsall won 5-0 on their last visit to Vale Park back in May – inflicting the Valiants’ biggest home defeat in 29 years. So, will it be payback time this Christmas?
Right now, it’s tough to split the pair, with both sides on 27 points, and boasting just one win between them in the last ten league games combined. However, the Saddlers’ away form has been their saving grace this season, so we’re going for them to do the business once again – albeit in less emphatic fashion.
Best Bet: Walsall to win to nil @ 4/1
Plymouth Argyle v Wycombe Wanderers (December 26, 15:00)
It’s League Two’s table-toppers against the division’s form side in this enticing fixture, with the Chairboys heading to Home Park in search of a seventh successive league victory.
But Plymouth are back on track after their November wobble, recording wins to nil against Doncaster Rovers and Accrington Stanley. Something has to give, but what?
We reckon it’s the Pilgrims recent resurgence which is set to take a hit, with Wycombe having won on each of their last five trips to this ground. Another win here, and it will feel like a Christmas miracle for fans of Gareth Ainsworth’s men, who were hovering just above the relegation zone at the start of November.
Best Bet: Wycombe to win @ 13/5
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing