Even Fred might get a run out against Cardiff. Photo credit: Jason Vinlove, USA TODAY

Much was made during today’s broadcast of the Wolves-Liverpool match this evening that the side who wakes up Christmas morning at the top of the Premier League table has won the league eight of the last 11 seasons. Of course, the most recent side to spit the bit and not win the title after leading on Christmas morning was…Liverpool.

No point in lying to you, my picks the past couple of weeks have nearly brought me to tears. But the spirit of the season and the onslaught of league matches to come in short order add up to this tout recouping prior losses and setting up 2019 to deliver all of us to the promised land of profit. Here are your Week 18 winners:

MANCHESTER CITY v. CRYSTAL PALACE

City has abused me thus far in this space, but it’s crucial never to fall victim to the gamblers’ fallacy. The odds of each specific match are obviously entirely independent of everything that came before. If you toss a silver dollar in the air 20 times in a row and get heads 20 times, the odds of tails coming up on the next toss is? 50/50. The coin doesn’t care about the past.

Palace loves to do nothing better than concede goals. Palace held moribund Leicester City a week ago, but before that they allowed six goals to West Ham and Brighton and Hove Albion. In their last visit to a top-five side in the league table, Palace lost 3-1 to Chelsea. Also, Palace’s next match is home to Cardiff City — a match they absolutely have to win to guarantee their Premier League spot for next season.

Pep Guardiola is certainly aware of the proclivity of sides that top the table on Christmas to finish the job. Ordinarily this is a season of side rotation, but City’s next two assignments are at Leicester City and Southampton, two clubs who will surely set up in 4-5-1 formations and try to cadge a draw. Guardiola will unleash the hounds against Palace, and the main question is whether Palace will score once to keep it interesting. I think this is another 3-1 or 4-1 to City, and in the interest of sweeping the week I say to take City to win AND over 3.5 goals at 21/20.

CARDIFF CITY v. MANCHESTER UNITED

Many of you reading this piece noticed that the Philadelphia Flyers suddenly figured out how to skate, hustle, defend, block shots and otherwise turn in a professional shift once Dave Hakstol was fired. Carter Hart has played a better-than-competent goal for the Flyers in his two starts, but don’t kid yourself — the reason he is 2-0 out of the gate is the stiffs in front of him are playing, at least in the short term, for their professional lives.

United finally got rid of approximately 150 pounds of dead weight this week, and now they are headed to relegation-threatened Cardiff. Here are some things that will happen in Wales at this match: Paul Pogba, who has been exiled for weeks, will start and dominate; Romelu Lukaku will score, maybe twice; and David de Gea will be able to watch this match from a chaise if he chooses to.

There are so few gambling opportunities that come around like this one. A motivated, talented team. A crippled opponent, waiting to be violated. Don’t bet the house on this, but a car payment is probably safe on United to win at 6/10.

NEWCASTLE v. FULHAM

This pick is a who do you trust special. Against teams they are demonstrably better than (Huddersfield Town, Burnley, Bournemouth), Rafa Benitez’ side has ground out boring but effective results. Fulham, meanwhile, is hot garbage. The Cottagers sit last in the table on merit. Fulham concede goals for fun (42 through 17 matches), which plays right into the Magpies’ primary weakness (14 goals scored in 17 matches).

This feels like a 2-1 Newcastle win, though I would not put it past Fulham to concede a third. Regardless, take Newcastle to win at evens.

WEST HAM v. WATFORD

Merry Christmas to all! That’s right, Santa is reaching down into his bag of goodies to bring you a fourth winner.

These clubs could not be closer in the table. They both have posted 24 points on the back of seven wins, seven losses and three draws. Each side has allowed 25 goals to date; only by virtue of the Hammers having scored two more goals thus far do they claim the ninth spot in the table over the Hornets.

Here’s the thing, though: West Ham is FLYING right now, with four straight wins. Manuel Pellegrini’s side is scoring for fun, and they are home. Take West Ham to win at 5/4.

LAST WEEK’S RESULTS

Manchester United to win or draw at Liverpool at 29/20: LOSS

Manchester City to win at nil to Everton at 5/4: LOSS

Wolves to win home to Bournemouth at 10/11: WIN

LAST WEEK: -$109

YEAR TO DATE: -$864