Everton may be flying high in the Premier League following a hard-fought 2-1 win over West Ham United last time out, but David Moyes will be eager to avoid complacency when Wigan Athletic head to Goodison Park.
The Blues will be without two key midfielders, with Marouane Fellaini set to serve the second game of a three-match suspension for his headbutt on Ryan Shawcross, while Darren Gibson is out following his sending off against the Hammers last time out.
That said, Moyes’ team has a habit of performing well on Boxing Day, having avoided defeat in each of their last five matches on this date, with two wins and three draws to their name.
More importantly, the Toffees are unbeaten in eight meetings with Wigan and while four of their last five clashes have ended as draws, current Premier League form backs up Everton’s position as favourites for the win at 12/25.
The Merseysiders have lost just one of their last 13 competitive games and are unbeaten in 13 matches at Goodison Park.
Last time out at home, they left it late to dispatch fellow Champions League chasers Tottenham Hotspur, but the visit of Wigan could pose a much less taxing prospect.
Roberto Martinez’s team have claimed just one win from their last eight games in all competitions and their away form is hardly much better, with just one win from their last six on the road.
Wigan are ranked outsiders at odds of 23/4 and it would appear that their Spanish boss is similarly downbeat about their chances, given the calibre of their opposition.
“This Everton side tick every box,” he told Eurosport in a recent interview.
“At Goodison Park they are unbeaten and it is one of the hardest places to visit in the Premier League. We are well aware of all that, but we feel we can match Everton on our day.”
Odds of 31/10 are available on a draw and there remains some hope for those predicting a stalemate. The Latics have opened the scoring in each of their last four meetings with the Toffees, who have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last seven home matches.
Much will depend on the form of Nikica Jelavic, who struck a late winner against Spurs in their last home win, and the Croatian is priced at 9/2 to score last again or 5/4 to notch at any time.
Meanwhile, Steven Pienaar has two goals in his last three games for Everton and Latics old boy Leighton Baines has scored three goals against Wigan – more than he has scored against any other opponent in the division.
Pienaar is a 5/2 shot to get on the scoresheet on Boxing Day, while Baines – who has free-kick and penalty duty in his favour, of course – can be backed at 3/1.
But regardless of who gets the goals, Everton should have enough quality to extend their impressive record at Goodison Park this season and keep their Champions League bid on track with all three points.