New Year cheer
Ed Chamberlin previews the New Year action with both Manchester clubs clear at the top of the league.
Last Updated: 31/12/11 4:26pm
Sky Bet's title odds: 4/5 Man City, 5/4 Man Utd, 16/1 Tottenham, 33/1 Chelsea, 40/1 Arsenal, 200/1 Liverpool
Kauto was the star at Christmas and cost the bookies a fortune so Sky Bet must have been thankful for the seven draws in the last round of 10 Premier League matches.
Manchester United were the team celebrating on Boxing Day after expensive stalemates for Manchester City and Chelsea, followed by similar frustration for Arsenal 24 hours later. Tottenham then impressed again against Norwich and they now look like the only team who can gatecrash Manchester's party.
It all means Sky Bet have pushed out City to 4/5 from 4/7 shortened the champions to 5/4, Spurs to 16/1 and, according to the betting, we can forget the rest (33/1 bar the top three).
The Manchester clubs are flying and previously all four teams with as good a Premier League record as City and United (2.4-points-per-game or more) going into the New Year have gone on to win the title.
Much to Roberto Mancini's annoyance it is Manchester United who again get to make the first move, kicking off early on New Year's Eve with the chance to go in to 2012 three points clear at the top.
Five of the last seven teams on top of the Premier League on the start of New Year's Day have gone on to win the title - since 2004, only Arsenal in 2008 and Liverpool in 2009 have begun the year top and not won the League.
United (1/7) are up against Blackburn (16/1), whose spirits will have been lifted by their point at Anfield on Boxing Day.
Manchester United's first ever Football League game actually came against Rovers, losing 4-3 at Ewood Park in September 1892. United won 7-1 in this fixture last season, with Dimitar Berbatov scoring four times, and you'd expect him to start again after his hat-trick on Monday; Sky Bet make him a 10/3 shot to score the first goal and 20/1 for another hat-trick.
I'll be presenting Super Sunday from the Stadium of Light on New Year's Day to see how Manchester City (4/9) respond to whatever United have done the day before - City are up against Sunderland (11/2).
City have won 10 of the last 12 Premier League meetings between these two but are catching the Black Cats at just the wrong time as they seem to have been transformed by the arrival of Martin O'Neill. It promises to be another rough examination for Mancini's side.
Before all of that we have a brilliant game live on Sky Sports on Friday night as Liverpool (1/2) meet Newcastle (11/2). Liverpool drew for the sixth time at home this season on Boxing Day and their form at Anfield has to be a concern. However, they have a superb record against Newcastle.
Liverpool have won eight of the last 10 Premier League meetings, including five of the last six, and have scored 18 goals in last six games. Liverpool have also scored more league goals against Newcastle (70) than they have against any other side.
In contrast, it's been 508 minutes (eight hours and 28 minutes) since Newcastle last scored at Anfield, when Patrick Kluivert netted in a 3-1 defeat in December 2004.
Newcastle's only Premier League win at Anfield came 17 years ago - 2-0 in April 1994. Take That were No1 in the charts with Everything Changes and I remember well that same month a certain Matthew Le Tissier scoring a brilliant hat-trick in Southampton's 5-4 win against Norwich.
For my 'bet of the week' I'm going for Fulham to win at Norwich on Saturday. These two last met on the final day of the 2004/05 season, when Fulham won 6-0 at Craven Cottage to send Norwich down.
The Canaries don't look like going down this time but I do think life will get tougher for the three promoted sides in the New Year. Fulham have won on their last four visits to Carrow Road in all competitions and go there this time in good form having lost just one of their last five away, while Norwich have lost three of their last five at home.
Happy New Year!
Super 6 predictions:
Arsenal 2-0 QPR - Gunners should be too strong
Bolton 2-1 Wolves - Bolton have won seven of the last nine League meetings
Chelsea 1-0 Aston Villa - Chelsea to edge it
Norwich 0-2 Fulham - another tough one for Norwich
Stoke 3-0 Wigan - Stoke should be too powerful
Swansea 0-2 Tottenham - Spurs should be too goodManchester City (4/9)Fulham to win at Norwich on Saturday