Though their game takes place just four days before Christmas, fans of Leeds and Middlesbrough will be eyeing the top of a different kind of tree.
With Boro winning six of their last ten and Leeds coming off their fourth win in five games, both teams seem to be putting together a promotion push at just the right time.
Despite the visitors sitting just shy of the automatic spots in third, twelfth-placed Leeds start as favourites at 31/20, with the draw 21/10 and a Boro win at 7/4.
Key to Boro’s success this season has been their ability to go for a full 90 minutes, with Tony Mowbray’s team scoring 12 goals in the last 15 minutes of league games this season, including the two late strikes which beat Wolves last weekend.
This has helped them win nine of the 22 second halves they have played in the Championship and it’s 39/20 for them to claim their tenth second-half win. Meanwhile, it’s 33/20 for them to score more goals in the second half than they do in the first, although that’s not to say that they should be backed to pick up all three points at Elland Road.
That’s because while Boro are strong finishers, Leeds are fast starters, with over half of their goals coming in the first 45 minutes – including on-loan Jerome Thomas’ first-half opener at home to Ipswich last time out in the league.
So while 19/20 for Neil Warnock’s team to open the scoring is a solid shout, the free-scoring form of both teams means one goal is unlikely to be enough.
There have been over 2.5 goals in 59% of Leeds’ games and this has been the case in 68% of Boro’s matches.
Another three-goal show is 83/100 with a high-scoring home win 3/1 and a Boro over 2.5 goals victory at 14/5.
However, with both teams in form and Leeds likely to be tired from their midweek Capital One Cup excursions against Chelsea, this time out I’m saying honours will remain even.
But with Leeds fast starters and Boro strong finishers, the Leeds/draw in the halftime/fulltime market is worth a bet at 11/1.