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Free football betting tips: Thursday Premier League preview as Crystal Palace host Arsenal

Christian Benteke celebrates
Christian Benteke celebrates

Our Nick Hext is backing the returning Christian Benteke to make it a tricky Thursday evening for Arsenal at Crystal Palace.

Crystal Palace v Arsenal (2000 GMT, Sky Sports Main Event and Premier League)

The festive feast of football continues with Crystal Palace hosting Arsenal at Selhurst Park on Thursday night.

This contest sees Gunners boss Arsene Wenger equal Sir Alex Ferguson's record for most games as a Premier League manager.

The Frenchman takes charge of Arsenal for the 810th time in the top flight against the Eagles and his team remain in the battle for a top-four spot.

Arsenal can pull back level with fifth-placed Tottenham by claiming a three-point haul and that would see them just one point behind Liverpool in fourth.

That puts the pressure on the Gunners and their away record in the Premier League this season isn't too impressive.

Wenger's side have drawn at Southampton and West Ham in their last two matches on the road and they've already fallen to defeats against Manchester City, Liverpool, Watford and Stoke away from the Emirates Stadium.

Palace provide a really tricky test as Roy Hodgson's reign continues to see the Eagles recover from an appalling start of seven Premier League losses in a row.

A selfie with Roy Hodgson
A selfie with Roy Hodgson

Hodgson's team enter this game on an eight-match unbeaten run, three wins and five draws picked up during that stretch, and they have avoided defeat in their last seven outings at Selhurst Park.

Victory over Arsenal could even see the Eagles climb to as high as 12th in the Premier League table.

Wilfried Zaha has been the star player for Palace this season but the resurgence of Christian Benteke in the last month has also been worth noting.

The striker missed Saturday's 1-1 draw at Swansea due to suspension and it's clear that his presence was missed at the head of the Eagles' attack.

"We were without Benteke at Swansea; he was a big loss for us in the way we are trying to play," said Hodgson this week.

"I thought Wilf (Zaha) and Andros (Townsend) did a fantastic job but when they are playing together we don't have a physical presence or that focal point in attack which most teams would like.

"I miss Benteke in good form, that's for sure, and we'll be pleased to welcome him back for these coming games."

Benteke netted his first goal of the campaign in the final game before his suspension, an impressive 3-0 success at Leicester, and I reckon he's primed to net again as he returns to action.

The Belgium international tends to score in bursts. He netted five goals in five games back in April of this year, five in five through November and December of 2016 plus another five-goal haul in five outings back in September and October of last year.

Those 15 goals contributed 20 of his 2016/17 season tally for both Palace and Belgium.

There's 5/2 available in the anytime goalscorer prices and I want a slice of that to back Benteke.

I'm also going to go with a smaller stake for the 14/1 available for a 2-2 draw in the correct score odds.

Three of Palace's previous five outings at home have finished in 2-2 draws and their strength is definitely further up the field despite improved defensive performances since Hodgson's arrival.

Arsenal lost 3-0 at Selhurst Park back in April and Wenger will have the Gunners ready to avoid a repeat defeat but this contest remains tough for the top-four contenders.

The Gunners drew 3-3 with Liverpool last time out and Palace can once again exploit their frailties without quite having enough to get over the line for victory.

Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-2 Arsenal (Click for Sky Bet's Price Boosts and RequestABets)

Recommended bets

2pts Christian Benteke to score in Crystal Palace v Arsenal at 5/2

1pt Crystal Palace to draw 2-2 with Arsenal at 14/1

Posted at 1745 GMT on 27/12/17.

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Most Read Football

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer1

Keane: Players will let Ole down

Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane has hit out at the club's players and said they will throw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer "under the bus".

Paul Dickov reflects on Manchester City's famous play-off victory over Gillingham
2

Man City's sliding doors moment

Paul Dickov talks to Sporting Life about the injury time goal that many Manchester City fans believe was the catalyst for the club becoming the giant it is today.

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package3

Saturday's Premier League tips

After profits courtesy of the Manchester derby, George Pitts looks ahead to Saturday's 3pm kick-offs in the Premier League with the best bets and key stats.

The latest rumour and gossip from the back pgaes4

Paper Talk: So long Sanchez?

Man United prepare to pay out Alexis Sanchez's contract and Liverpool want £60m Napoli ace, according to the back pages.

The latest Sporting Life Accumulator
5

Sporting Life Accumulator

With the Acca landing more than once in recent weeks, we're hoping for another as we back four home teams across the Sky Bet EFL.

Football Tips

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package

Get ahead with the Mane man

Liverpool can return to the top of the Premier League table on Friday as they host relegated Huddersfield and we have a 17/2 bet to consider.

The latest Sporting Life Accumulator

Sporting Life Accumulator

With the Acca landing more than once in recent weeks, we're hoping for another as we back four home teams across the Sky Bet EFL.

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package

Saturday's Premier League tips

After profits courtesy of the Manchester derby, George Pitts looks ahead to Saturday's 3pm kick-offs in the Premier League with the best bets and key stats.