As the festive period kicks off, we’re treated to a whole host of great sporting events to enjoy. Feast your eyes on the pick of the bunch from now until the end of January:
Darts – PDC World Championship
The festive season is also the darts season, and there’s plenty of world championship action to enjoy in the upcoming weeks. All of the PDC World Championship matches are aired on Sky, and you can also find them on various betting websites that offer streaming. It’s always a fun few weeks that culminates with a grand final in the New Year. The biggest stars are out in force once again, and it promises to be a mighty contest. Can Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor win a 17th World Championship? Will Gary Anderson make it two championship wins in a row? Or will we see someone completely new join the winner’s circle? If you fancy a bet, then the bookies have Michael van Gerwen as the current favourite while Phil Taylor is sitting pretty at decent odds for a 16-time champion. Enjoy all the action from the 15th December through to the 2nd January.
Horse Racing – King George VI Chase
If you’re after some boxing day sporting fun then turn your attention to the King George VI Chase this December 26th. It promises to be a cracking race with two stablemates Thistlecrack and Cue Card tipped as the favourites. Watch them battle it out for first place while the remainder of the pack try and spring a surprise. This race is always one of the most anticipated of the year and a great way to enjoy some festive fun when you’re recovering from that big Christmas Dinner you ate the day before.
Football – Premier League Boxing Day Battles
Boxing day is famous amongst football fans as most of the Premier League teams are in action on the same day. It’s a must-watch day of football as there promises to be countless thrills and spills that will excite even the tamest of football fans. There are a whopping eight fixtures to enjoy including a few spicy ones here and there. The pick of the bunch has to be Manchester United vs. Sunderland as David Moyes returns to Old Trafford after his awful spell there as manager. His Sunderland side is battling relegation while Mourinho’s United are in fine form. Keep an eye on this one, I’m predicting a thrilling United win.
Football – FA Cup Third Round
The new year brings in the second bout of ‘must watch’ football over this festive period. The FA Cup Third Round starts on the 6th January, with ties being played until the 9th. It’s the part of the competition where all the big teams enter it and we the Football League gets consumed with FA Cup fever. You can guarantee there’ll be an upset or two, the trick is picking the best underdog to bet on and reel in loads of cash. If you’re looking for a potential upset to bet on then, I’d say stick a few quid on Bolton to beat Crystal Palace. Bolton are third in League One and a fair way away from the dizzy heights of the Premier League where Crystal Palace sit. However, Palace has one of the worst defenses in the Prem, and it looks like even a Sunday League team could stick a couple past them. Plus, Palace are currently in the midst of a fight to stay in the Premier League. They had an FA Cup run last season so the priority should be their top-flight survival. This means they could field a weaker side making the chances of a Bolton win even more likely.
Darts – BDO World Professional Championships
After the thrills of the PDC World Darts Championships, you have a few days to recover before the BDO Championships start on the 7th January. They run through to the 15th and include some of the biggest names in Darts. It’s not as prestigious an event as the PDC Championships but it still attracts some top names, and there’s plenty of great darts on display nonetheless. Glen Durrant and Danny year’s are the two favourites for this event and with good reason. Based on the recent form they seem that little bit above the rest of the field. If you’re looking for fairly safe bets with good value, then place one on either of these two before their odds shorten!
Basketball – Christmas Day Matches
If you’re a basketball fan, then Christmas Day provides yet another gift for you in the form of five live games. There are some very tasty matchups including the Lakers vs. Clippers and Cavaliers vs. Warriors. You get to see some of the best in the game face off in what promises to be a more than entertaining set of games. If you’re new to basketball, then this is the perfect time for you to start watching. The NBA tends to schedule the best teams to play on Christmas Day as they know it’ll get the most views. You’ve got no excuses either, as there’s no work on Boxing Day so you can stay up late and make sure you catch all of the matches.
American Football – NFL Playoffs
Another American sport that needs your attention this holiday season is American Football. On the weekend of January 7th – 8th, it’s playoff time! For those that don’t know, the playoffs are a huge thing in American Football. They essentially kick start the road to the Superbowl and help determine the two teams that will fight it out for the NFL Championships in February. The technicalities of who qualifies can be a little bit difficult to understand and will take up too much time to go through them at the moment. All you need to know is there will be matches for you to watch and you shouldn’t miss them! The playoffs are always massive events, and teams bring their best rosters to the occasion. Expect plenty of great football to be played and a fair few upset faces as players lose out on their dream to make the Super Bowl. The great thing about the NFL is that there are so many markets to bet on during each match. The current playoff lineup isn’t set yet, so it’s hard to give a proper prediction of each match.
Tennis – New Season & Australian Open
January sees the start of the new tennis season which means there are plenty of great events to watch. In the first few weeks of the new year, there are events in Auckland, Doha, Hobart – and many more places in the Southern Hemisphere. The end of the month also sees the start of the first grand slam of the season; The Australian Open. This is the event everyone is looking forward to as there are so many questions to be answered and so many things happening. Can former world number one and reigning champ Novak Djokovic regain his Midas touch and win another major? Or, will the new world number one Andy Murray continue his form from last year and win a maiden Australian Open title. It will also see the return of tennis legends Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer as they both return from injury. If I had to pick a winner it would be Andy Murray, the man is winning everything at the moment and is on a long win streak too. He’ll surely return in the new season eager to keep this run going and show that he belongs at the top of the game.
Boxing – DeGale v Jack
Britain’s James DeGale fights Badou Jack in the New Year for two world championship belts. They’ll be going head to head (or fist to head) for the IBF and WBC super-middleweight world titles. It’s on the 124th January and takes place in the glamorous city of New York. DeGale is currently the holder of the IBF belt while Jack holds the WBC one, but, at the end of the fight, one of these men will be left with nothing. It promises to be an interesting battle between two opponents with contrasting styles. The experts are tipping DeGale to win it, and I think that’s a fair shout. It will definitely be close, and I wouldn’t be betting on any knockouts if I were you.
Football – African Cup Of Nations
On the same day as the boxing, the African Cup Of Nations begins and sees Africa’s top footballing nations fight it out for the big prize. African football has grown in recent years thanks to high-profile players like the Toure brothers, John Obi Mikel, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Except Nigeria, all the big names are involved in this years edition and the Ivory Coast will be hoping to make it two titles in a row. I wouldn’t bet on it, though, as they’re incredibly underwhelming in big competitions, barring their victory last time out. If you asked me to pick a good bet for the winner, then I’d direct your attention to Algeria. They have a lot of extremely talented players like Mahrez, Ghoulam, and Brahimi.
There’s so much sport to enjoy at this time of the year, we’re truly spoilt! Follow all of these events and don’t be afraid to make a cheeky punt or two and start your new year with some winning bets!