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It is going to be a blue Christmas for Martin O’Neill and Sunderland

by Josh Powell | December 19, 2012

By Josh Powell | Sports writer

There will be very little Christmas cheer for fans of clubs at the bottom of the Premier League table this festive season. Four matches in about 11 days could determine whether it’s Old Trafford or The Galpharm next year for the clubs in danger of the drop. It might be worse for Sunderland than anyone else as the Black Cats face a fixture list that’s harder to navigate than the Crystal maze.

The good news for punters though is that the odds in the relegation market and the sack race will be up and down like a hooker’s knickers and there’s plenty of opportunity to take advantage (of the prices, not the hooker).

Here’s the fixture breakdown for the teams in trouble over Christmas and New Year:


22/12 – Manchester City v Reading
26/12 – Reading v Swansea
29/12 – Reading v West Ham
01/01 – Tottenham v Reading

Tougher than the love-child of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan. Expect the Royals to pick up just the one point from one of their home games.


22/12 – Newcastle v QPR
26/12 – QPR v WBA
30/12 – QPR v Liverpool
02/12 – Chelsea v QPR

Harry Redknapp has the Midas touch at QPR and now they’ve notched up their first win of the season confidence is high. You can see Rangers performing well at home and they could shock Liverpool at the end of the month. A win and a couple of draws would give them a tasty five points.

TAARABT IS THE POINTS IN THE BAG: Adel can guide QPR to five points

TAARABT IS THE POINTS IN THE BAG: Adel can guide QPR to five points


22/12 – Wigan v Arsenal
26/12 – Everton v Wigan
29/12 – Aston Villa v Wigan
01/01 – Wigan v Man United

Wigan don’t start playing seriously until March, when they suddenly morph into a mixture of the 1974 Dutch team with a sprinkling of today’s Spanish generation. Until then don’t expect fireworks, a couple of draws will do them over Christmas.


22/12 – Southampton v Sunderland
26/12 – Fulham v Southampton
29/12 – Stoke v Southampton
01/01 – Southampton v Arsenal

Southampton are more confident at the minute than Brian Cox sitting A-Level physics. Nigel Lambert has his team playing well and a win at home against Sunderland will be massive. They should be able to nick a draw somewhere along the way as well and that’ll give them a cheeky four points in the battle for survival.


22/12 – Southampton v Sunderland
26/12 – Sunderland v Man City
29/12 – Sunderland v Tottenham
02/01 – Liverpool v Sunderland

This is like preparing yourself to watch a train-wreck. It’s not going to be pretty if you’re a Mackem and it could spell the end of Martin O’Neill’s time in charge. It’s hard to see Sunderland getting anything from these four games and for them Christmas will be like buying an umbrella ahead of the apocalypse: completely pointless.

O'NEILL OR NO O'NEILL: Martin is in for a terrible festive season

O’NEILL OR NO O’NEILL: Martin is in for a terrible festive season


22/12 – Newcastle v QPR
26/12 – Manchester United v Newcastle
29/12 – Arsenal v Newcastle
02/01 – Newcastle v Everton

Since Alan Pardew nailed that ridiculous eight-year-contract Newcastle really haven’t done much. They’re currently just having a little flirt with relegation rather than trying to sleep with it and the Magpies should notch up four points over the festive period.

Aston Villa

23/12 – Chelsea v Aston Villa
26/12 – Aston Villa v Tottenham
29/12 – Aston Villa v Wigan
01/01 – Swansea v Aston Villa

Villa seem to have found a style of play that suits them and picked up an impressive three points at Anfield. Christian Benteke is the main-man at Villa Park and if his good form continues Paul Lambert can expect a crucial four points from Santa this year.

By our absolutely flawless calculations that means Reading will stay rock-bottom of the Premier League but come the turn of the year they could be around five points away from 19th placed QPR. At 1/8 you’d need to have a small mortgage lying around in petty change but there is plenty of value in them finishing bottom of the league at 4/7.

It is set to be a disastrous Christmas for Sunderland who could be the only team in the Premier League not to pick up a single point. Martin O’Neill could have the worst Christmas since Weatherfield in 2010. That’s good news for punters though who can crash in on O’Neill to be the first one to get the boot at 4/1 and Sunderland to be relegated at 11/4.

By the time the January sales kick off those prices could have disappeared.

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