So you wake up after a long day of partying, or perhaps a shorter day depending on how much you drank last night, and you think to yourself: what now? You’ve got some left over Christmas food in the fridge, your trousers are a bit tighter, and you’re trying to find something to fill the void.
Well fear not, as Boxing Day 2019 may be the only holiday for football fans.
That’s because, as is every year, Boxing Day hosts some of the Premier League’s biggest games. This year in particular is full of some big fixtures. We’ve got Spurs v Brighton at 12:30, followed by your choice of Everton v Burnley, Chelsea v Southampton or Bournemouth v Arsenal at 3. However, if that wasn’t enough, we can also see Man U v Newcastle at 5:30, and then to finish a cracker of a day, the top two, Leicester v Liverpool, at 8.
It’s the day that’s brought historic moments, such as Mkhitaryan’s scorpion kick against Sunderland in 2016, Giroud’s headbutt in 2014 and, hopefully, Ancelotti’s first win as Everton manager in 2019.
Normally, you’d have to go out to the pub to catch up on the football. However, with Amazon Prime getting the rights to show all Premier League football on Boxing Day, you can sit back and relax from the 12:30 kick off, all the way till the 10 o’clock full-time whistle.
Well, after sitting back and watching as many games as I could, here’s my run down of this years Boxing Day drama…
The first game of the day, Spurs v Brighton, saw Brighton’s strong, defensive, work-it-from-the-back side take on a counter attacking stronghold in Spurs. Spurs got a bit outnumbered in the midfield during the first half, with Brighton often breaking through on goal and forcing a few saves.
However, with VARs recent introduction into the Prem, some more Boxing Day drama was almost guaranteed to ensue. Kane had a goal revoked after offside was picked up by VAR, leaving it 0-0 after 25 mins. However, if this wasn’t enough to dishearten Spurs fans, Brighton’s 37 minute goal from Webster, after a classic Gross set-piece, left the game 1-0 at half time.
“Despite this, in the second half, Kane received retribution after the ball bounced to him in the box, and he banged it bottom corner on the rebound. Spurs then capitalised on their momentum, with a fantastic Dele Alli goal in the 70th minute. It was a delightful finish, just curling it with the inside of his foot to the corner of the goal.”
Whilst 2-1 up, Spurs midfielder Sissoko decided to exchange a couple shoves with the Brighton defender Dan Burn, embracing his inner Scrooge over the Christmas season, and adding to the Boxing Day dramatics. Brighton got their own back at Spurs, as while Alli was through on goal, Ryan pulled off the save of the game. He got a slight touch on the ball to leave Spurs with a slimmer, but still successful, 2-1 win.
After this game, pending a difficult decision, I decided to go for my team, Everton, for the 3PM fixture. Given the recent signing of Carlo Ancelotti, I was nervous to see his first game in charge. There hasn’t been a 0-0 draw between the two sides since 1926, so my hopes were high for a decent scoring game.
Burnley gave away a fair amount of free kicks during the first half, but Everton’s lack of determination from set pieces meant a lot of these opportunities went astray. Once or twice Mina or DCL would get a touch on the ball, but they’d often hit it off target, or not as clinical enough. Everton berated Burnley in terms of possession, but alas we went in at half time 0-0.
There was a bit of drama in the second half, as Everton’s goalkeeper Pickford supposedly handballed the ball outside the penalty box, gifting Burnley a freekick. Although nothing came of it, my heart was in my mouth.
Despite Burnley’s oppressive nature, however, Everton managed to nab a goal with 10 minutes left to spare. Dominic Calvert Lewin’s thumping header bounced off of both posts, before stumbling into the net. A classic diving header which Everton coach Duncan Ferguson would’ve been proud of.
The game ended 1-0, hopefully kickstarting a long history of Ancelotti’s success with the club.
At 5:30, I tuned into Man U v Newcastle, a game which I could see going either way after United’s shock defeat to Watford.
De Gea pulled off a cracker of a save against Dwight Gayle, and as both teams battled against each other in the first half, counter attacking football was very much the tactic of the day. Newcastle struck first in the game, with a decent bottom corner finish from previous United target Matty Longstaff.
However, this almost woke United up, and as a result they dominated possession for the rest of the half. Martial managed to score a goal in the same corner, making the score 1-1. Around the 35th minute, United youngster Mason Greenwood bagged himself a goal, a tidy finish which cemented Man U as the dominant side.
“However, Boxing Day wouldn’t be short of some more drama. As Rashford managed to bag a header in the 41st minute, the build up showed McTominay supposedly foul an opposing player. The issue wasn’t reviewed by VAR, and surely made a few Newcastle fan’s blood boil. Nonetheless, United ended the half 3-1 up.”
The second half continued in the same manner as the first, with United the dominant side. Martial scored a cheeky dink, bringing a smile to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s face, and being the final goal in what ended a 4-1 win to Man U.
As the day drew to a close, the football gods left the best till last, as 8:30 saw Leicester take on Liverpool. Being the two top teams in the Prem this season, many saw the fixture as a significant test to Liverpool’s road to the title
In the 10th minute, Salah was sent through by a notorious Liverpool long ball, which saw him one on one with Schmeichel. He managed to get around him, but had difficulty finding the angle, sending the ball into the outside of the side netting.
This typical style of play characterised Liverpool in the first half, often sitting back, then abusing the pace of Alexander Arnold and Robertson, who supplied their front 3 with route one football.
Both teams sacrificed their defensive structure while attacking, but Leicester seemed to struggle defensively against Liverpool’s tactics. Firmino bagged a header in the 30th minute, following on from his fine form in the Club World Cup last week. This was the only goal of the first half, as Liverpool went away leading 1-0.
Following their domination, Liverpool continued in the same manner in the second half, eventually receiving a penalty after a handball from Leicester City Centre Back Soyuncu. Milner put this away, with a tidy finish to the right of Schmeichel.
Just when I thought the game was over, Liverpool managed to bag another goal, towards the dying embers of the game. Firmino received a delightful pass from Trent Alexander Arnold, slotting it into the top right corner. This marked Jurgen Klopp’s 500th goal as Liverpool manager, a landmark in his career with the club.
“Trent Alexander Arnold then followed his 2 assists with a goal, striking fear into an off-colour Leicester team, and leaving the game at 4-0.”
Liverpool’s win will be a late Christmas present for their fans, as they sit comfortably in 1st place.
All in all, for anyone interested, here are today’s results. I hope you all had a lovely day of football festivities, the perfect ingredient for post-Christmas Day recovery.
Spurs 2 – Brighton 1
Bournemouth 1 – Arsenal 1
Aston Villa 1 – Norwich 0
Chelsea 0 – Southampton 2
Crystal Palace 2 – West Ham 1
Everton 1 v Burnley 0
Sheff Utd 1 – Watford 1
Man Utd 4 v Newcastle 1
Leicester 0 v Liverpool 4
Last modified: 26th December 2019