While the glitz and glamour of international football is all well and good, for my money the best bets to back come in League One and League Two, with Crawley Town, Bournemouth and Bradford City looking set up for home wins this Saturday.
The midweek break may have brought us plenty of international action, with our beloved England falling foul of the magic of the man they call Zlatan, but for me, it’s all about the bottom two tiers for domestic punting.
After all, where else can you be treated to the sight of the south coast’s answer to Jose Mourinho – Eddie Howe – strutting his stuff as Bournemouth look to beat Oldham?
Show me a club that looks more likely than Crawley to complete another home win against an increasingly woeful Walsall?
And where can you see one-time Premier League team Bradford continue their glorious return to form with a win over Exeter City?
These three titans are available as a tasty treble at odds of just over 4/1, which translates to returns of £104.71 for anyone utilising bwin’s free £20 bet for registering.
With that in mind, let’s get to the stats.
Bournemouth to beat Oldham @ 67/100
While Christmas may be a time for celebrating the birth of Christ, for Bournemouth fans, the festive season is all about the rebirth of their own messiah – the aforementioned Howe.
Since coming back to the Cherries following a brief stint in the Championship with Burnley, the God-like gaffer has overseen a major return to form for the south-coast club, who have won six and drawn one of their last seven competitive fixtures.
The goals have been flying in for Howe’s men, who have registered an impressive 14 strikes in their last five encounters. Their form at Dean Court has been pretty impressive too, with the Cherries heading into their match with Oldham on the back of four consecutive home wins.
By contrast, the Latics are in a bad way, with a draw and three defeats from their last four games in League One. Away form has been a particular cause for concern of late, with Oldham having failed to win in any of their last three games on the road in the league.
It all adds up to a home win for Bournemouth at 67/100.
Crawley Town to beat Walsall @ 13/20
While Crawley may have hit the skids away from home, the dark lords of League One remain quite the force at the Broadfield Stadium and should be fancied against Walsall.
Last time out at home against Oldham, an early red card put paid to Crawley’s chances of winning and while they did fail to pick up the three points, the lesser-known Red Devils did recover to earn a draw and extend a run of four games unbeaten at home.
They will be hoping for better this time out, with Walsall out of form and on a run of 11 games without a win in all competitions. The Saddlers’ most recent outing was particularly embarrassing, as they were defeated at home by non-league Lincoln City in the first round of the FA Cup.
With Crawley enjoying smooth progress to the second round of the competition earlier this month, a home win looks assured at 13/20.
Bradford City to beat Exeter City @ 9/10
It may have taken extra-time and penalties, but Bradford City’s hard-fought victory over Northampton saw the Bantams extend their unbeaten run to five games in all competitions, including a famous win against Wigan Athletic in the Capital One Cup.
The Bantams have been on top form at Valley Parade as they have suffered just one defeat from their last 12 games at home in all competitions, with the most memorable recent result being a 3-1 win over promotion-chasing Cheltenham Town.
They will relish the opportunity of continuing that run against Exeter – a team they beat 4-1 at home in their last encounter in League Two back in 2008.
Exeter, meanwhile, head into this game with just one win – against a woeful AFC Wimbledon – in their last eight competitive matches. The Grecians have struggled for form away from St James’s Park, with no wins from their last four games on the road.
Expect the Bantams to prevail at 9/10.