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The festive period has always been a busy one for English football, and this year is no different. The upcoming week will see the Premier League play on Boxing Day, then again over the weekend, and then once again on New Year’s Day – three rounds of fixtures condensed into one action-packed week. This is, of course, a long-standing tradition – Christmas and the New Year just do not feel the same without football. Of course, jam-packed weeks like this one bring the opportunity to ‘earn’ some extra Christmas cheer, if you will. It is easy to stay updated with the latest news, odds and markets, via the mobile app of Bet365.

One English club who probably need more than just a slice of luck are West Ham. The Hammers are currently in 16th place, four points ahead of the relegation zone having played a game fewer than their rivals due to the postponement of their fixture against Liverpool, owing to the latter’s participation in the Club World Cup. A relegation battle was not what was promised when West Ham made the move to the glitzy new Olympic Stadium in 2016; however, that is what has afflicted the club for the second season since the move. West Ham have been almost consistently inconsistent over the past three seasons, and that pattern has continued into this campaign as well. Every time it has looked like Manuel Pellegrini is on the brink, his team conjure a win out of nowhere to keep him in a job, and then, prolong the fans’ suffering by going on a winless run which once again brings his job security under threat – set to repeat. Pellegrini and the football hierarchy at the club are not blameless – they prioritised the signing of an attacking midfielder in Pablo Fornals when the team was already well-stocked in the position, while neglecting to sign the defensive midfielder and defender it so clearly needed. Fornals has been a bit-part player, while the team has struggled defensively, and Declan Rice has looked woefully overworked at the base of midfield. It is likely that Pellegrini will lose his job at some point this season, probably over the upcoming run of fixtures, but he is only one small part of the problem at West Ham. The rot runs far deeper.

Thus, for punters looking to back West Ham, returns could be few and far between. Bet365 has the Hammers at 3.20 for their next game – an away trip to Crystal Palace, while the following game reflects the disparity between the two teams – a price of 4.50 for West Ham to prevail at home over second-placed Leicester City. However, the markets are of the opinion that the Hammers are too good to go down, reflected in the 5.00 price offered to back them to be relegated, while backing them to stay up is priced at 1.16. The current travails of Watford, Norwich and Aston Villa is the only thing saving West Ham at the moment, with Southampton having found some form in recent weeks. Fans would be well-advised to adopt a wait-and-watch approach if they want to back the Hammers in any markets, as their propensity for unpredictability makes backing them fraught with risk.