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Odds and Ends

PL Best Bets: Clean sheet coming from Man City

by Brad Thomas
Updated On: December 25, 2020, 5:45 pm ET

While many in the U.S. and around the world celebrate the Christmas holiday, the Premier League is set to celebrate Boxing Day. The origins remain somewhat disputed, with some believing it dates back to the 1600s while others believe it began in the 1800s under Queen Victoria. Either way, the end result this week is that we have been given the gift of six very exciting matches.

Each week I'll break down the Premier League action from a betting perspective, digging through information pertinent to bettors and offering my take on particular matchups. Two have caught my attention this Boxing Day, with all odds via PointsBet Sportsbook:

Crystal Palace at Aston Villa (Saturday, 7 a.m. ET)

Line: Under 7 corner kicks (+600), Between 7 and 9 inclusive (+225), Over 9 (-189)

Crystal Palace travel to Villa Park as they look to bounce back from an ugly 7-0 defeat to Liverpool. Their form over the past five fixtures has left little to be desired, but they must continue to gain points where they can to avoid falling lower on the table.

Regardless of the outcome of this particular match, one thing appears certain: this contest will feature plenty of corner kicks. Crystal Palace have a "bend don't break" defensive mentality, one that allows the opposition deep in their final third. While constantly playing on their heels, they leave themselves susceptible to deflections out of their own end line, resulting in a corner kick.

Meanwhile, Aston Villa look to build on their three-game unbeaten streak. A few weeks into the season it became clear the Villains are for real and will be serious challengers for a top-five spot. Much like Crystal Palace, their matches feature a high number of corner kicks.

Villa are awarded a league-high 7.58 corner kicks per game. Their play style is much different from Crystal Palace's. The Villains love to attack and apply pressure, but often fail to get the ball in threatening positions. Many of their attempts are non-threatening blasts taken from distance, resulting in a deflection which leads to an awarded corner.

In Crystal Palace's last five fixtures, there have been an average of 9.6 corner kicks, while on the season they're conceding an average of 5.36 corners per game. In away fixtures, that number bumps up slightly to 5.86 per game.

In Aston Villa's last five games, there have been an average of 11.4 corners. The complementary play style between these two teams is too compelling to ignore. Goals in this match may be hard to predict, but corners should be plentiful. I often shy away from lines with heavy juice like this, but I love Over 9 corners (-189) in this match.

Newcastle United at Manchester City (Saturday, 12 p.m. ET)

Line (To win to nil): Manchester City (-139), Newcastle United (+4000)

Prior to the start of the season, Pep Guardiola had his eyes set on more EPL silverware. Now Manchester City are focused on climbing back into the top three and making a serious push for the league title. For City, it starts with earning a full three points in matches they are expected to win.

Newcastle United travel to Etihad Stadium this Boxing Day in a clash between two teams on opposite trajectories. In Newcastle's last three fixtures, Steve Bruce's club has been unfocused and undisciplined. They're coming off a disappointing, 1-0 loss in the Carabao Cup. Despite winning the possession battle, they were outclassed and defeated by lower-tier Brentford.

Manchester City took care of business in their Carabao Cup match against Arsenal, 4-1, in an offensive onslaught that might have come as a surprise to many. City have struggled to find the back of the opponent's net this season but have done very well protecting their own. They've allowed a league-low 12 goals this season, including seven clean sheets.

The talent gap between the two clubs is evident, and Pep will look to control possession and limit the opportunities Newcastle will have. City have won the past two matches between these two by a combined score of 7-0. With City's lock-down defense combined with an underwhelming offense, the safest play in this matchup is to take Manchester City to win to nil (-139).

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Brad Thomas

Brad is a sports handicapper who is lucky enough to write about his true love; sports. "We may all root for different teams, but our objective remains the same… Beat the books! Remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint." Follow Brad on Twitter @MrBradThomas.