The festive period is upon us and that means wall to wall football on your TV screens over the coming week. Bliss.
All ten Premier League sides will be in action across three nights this week Man United v Chelsea (Wed, 8.15), Aston Villa v Man City (Wed, 8.15), Everton v Newcastle (Thur, 7.30) and Tottenham v West Ham (Thur, 8.15) among the feature matches.
Tuesday’s two games could have major implications on both the top and bottom of the Premier League standings with league leaders Arsenal seeking to extend their stay at the summit as they head to the humble surroundings of Luton Town’s Kenilworth Road while Burnley will be hoping to climb out of the bottom three when they travel to Mollineaux to tackle Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Football commentator Kieran Burke looks ahead to Tuesday night’s action for us below.
LUTON TOWN v ARSENAL (Tue, 8.15)
Kenilworth Road has been a problematic venue for some of the leagues big guns this season with Tottenham Hotspur delighted to get out of town with a fortunate 1-0 win in October while Liverpool required a last-gasp Luis Dias equaliser to escape the London venue with a point.
More recently, the Hatters stunned Crystal Palace with a dramatic 2-1 win here so Arsenal shouldn’t approach this game with any complacency even if they are currently the joint-shortest priced team (1/5) in these midweek set of fixtures alongside Liverpool who take on rock-bottom Sheffield United on Wednesday.
The Gunners survived a late scare at home to Wolves at the weekend with Arsenal’s 2-1 victory seeing Mikel Arteta’s men bring up a fifth consecutive win in all competitions.
While Arsenal have been regarded as one of the easiest teams on the eye for decades now, Mikel Arteta seems to have rediscovered the spirit of Arsène Wenger early Arsenal teams with the Gunners currently boasting the best defensive record in the league (11 conceded in 14 matches).
If Luton Town are to stand any chance of getting something from this game, they’ll have to replicate their approach and performance in the match here against Liverpool where Irish international Chiedozie Ogbene carried a constant threat on the counter attack.
However, Arsenal are more than seasoned in being patient against an opposition sitting deep and trying to frustrate, they may have to call on that patience here in what I fancy to be a tighter match on the scoreboard than many may expect.
PREDICTION: Luton +2 (5/4)
WOLVES v BURNLEY (Tue, 7.30)
Burnley’s tie with Sheffield United at the weekend was framed as “El Sackio” and it lived up to it’s cruel billing with Blades boss Paul Heckingbottom unsurprisingly paying the price for the shocking 5-0 defeat with his job.
The Clarets have struggled to rediscover their Championship winning groove of last season but Saturday’s performance was a real throwback to last season with Vincent Kompany’s side carving the Blades apart with some slick and effective football.
A trip to Mollineaux should provide Burnley with a much sterner test but with the confidence appearing to be flowing around Turf Moor again, the visitors may fancy their chances here.
The hosts come into this one off the back of two consecutive defeats and three losses in the last four but it should be pointed out that Wolves were left aggrieved by more VAR controversy in the defeat to Fulham two games ago while the team from the Midlands gave Arsenal a fright at the Emirates on Saturday.
Burnley’s thumping of Sheffield United couldn’t have come at a better time with the Clarets snapping a seven-match losing streak on Saturday.
Burnley will also take encouragement from their H2H record in this fixture with the Lancashire lads unbeaten in their last seven against Wanderers.
So often Wolves earn plaudits for their performances but are left to rue missed chances, their performance at Old Trafford on the opening game week immediately springs to mind, so while results have been slightly up and down of late, Gary O’Neil will take heart from the fact his team have scored in every game since the defeat in Manchester with Wolves scoring two or more goals in five of their last eight.
Five goals from five different players will obviously have delighted Vincent Kompany on Saturday but any manager will tell you wins with clean sheets are the most pleasing kind of result with Burnley recording their first league shutout of the season.
The last two meetings between the sides were low scoring (1-0 to Burnley and 0-0) and while I expect this to be another tight game, I do see goals.
PREDICTION: Wolves to win & BTTS (3/1)
DOUBLE THE ODDS FIRST GOALSCORER: Bar One Racing is offering Double The Odds First Goalscorer on Wolves v Burnley.
Players to perhaps take note of in the market are Matheus Cuna (Wolves, 5/1) following his latest goal of the season against Arsenal last time out while Hwang Hee-Chan (5/1) has now scored in half of Wolves league matches this season.
Finally, former England striker Jay Rodriguez looks a big price to open the scoring at 10/1 given he’s now scored in his last two matches for Burnley with his opener in the rout of Sheffield United being the fastest goal of the season so far (15 seconds).
Keep an eye out for further Premier League previews here on the Bar One Racing blog.