December 2015 Sporting Preview
December means two things, the countdown to Christmas and the most exciting month in the sporting calendar. Last December the punters ended the year on a high when a dream set of Boxing Day football results left William Hill staring at the biggest single day losses in their long history. This is just one snapshot of some of the excitement that awaits over the festive period.
The month's first highlight comes as early as 1st December when the Capital One Cup quarter-finals gets underway. Liverpool and Man City are the only two traditional powerhouses left standing and it'll be up to Southampton and Hull respectively to blow the tournament wide open. Middlesbrough, Everton, Stoke and Sheff Wed compete for the two other remaining semi-final spots.
Move forward a week and it's football again dominating the back pages as the final round of Champions League (8th & 9th December) and Europa League (10th December) group games will determine which English teams will continue in which European participation in the New Year. Man City and Chelsea are already through in the Champions, as are Tottenham and Liverpool in the Europa, however only a final day victory for Man Utd and a convincing Arsenal win in Olympiacos are good enough to see their Champions League stay lengthened.
The weekend of 12th-13th December sees rugby union take centre stage with the resumption of the European Champions Cup. After three years of Toulon domination, the French giants have to be content with being second favourites in the betting behind rivals Clermont, while Saracens and Northampton are most likely to end the mainland stranglehold on Europe's premier club rugby tournament.
Following on from the brutal rugby matches, even bigger hits are expected that night with a couple of fighting's brightest talents showing what they've got in the ring. Firstly, William Hill is the title sponsor of boxing's main event between Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte. All eyes are sure to be on London 2012 gold winner Joshua, whose name will surely be mentioned in the list of future challengers for Tyson Fury's heavyweight title belts.
The second fight comes in the Octagon, where Ireland's Conor McGregor goes out to cement his place as UFC's most saleable name following the demise of Ronda Rousey. The Notorious already holds the Featherweight Championship but his on-off showdown with Jose Aldo has the potential to make UFC 194 the most talked about PPV in MMA history.
The Alexandra Palace again provides the setting for the William Hill World Darts Championship (starting 17th December) and Gary Anderson returns looking to defend his title. The Flying Scotsman is amongst the favourites but it's Michael van Gerwen and Phil Taylor who will most likely draw the biggest interest in the betting.
Finally, the month's last big day of sport is perhaps the highlight of the entire year. Boxing Day sees the start of the eagerly anticipated Test series between South Africa and England, however it's horse racing and football that offer up the most excitement.
The National Hunt season has been underway for a few months but Boxing Day's epic programme is headlined by the first indicator of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the form of the William Hill King George VI Chase. Legends have been made on the Kempton turf, none more famous than Kauto Star, and having a potential, early season battle between Gold Cup hero Coneygree, Vautour, Don Coassack and Cue Card is the perfect tonic to a Christmas Day hangover.
Finally, it may just be another three points on offer but a full English football programme is a Boxing Day tradition. Louis van Gaal may oppose it but without it, Christmas would not be the same.
Make sure you keep coming back to William Hill to make the most of a spectacular end to 2015.