Four days, 12 games. Now there’s a reason to be jolly
This week on Sky Sports and BT Sport
On the 21st day of Christmas, football gave to me: 12 games to put in my diary…
Doesn’t really work, does it? But never mind. All you need to worry about is scrapping those plans to spend the day sipping mulled gin and tonic with your partner’s friend’s husband and making polite conversation about their new chihuahua, because the festive season has reached its very apex. And that can mean only one thing: football fixture overload!
Unlike every other league in Europe – and despite constant protestations from almost every manager since the Premier League’s inception in 1992 – our beloved top flight sees Christmas as the perfect opportunity to cram a huge number of games into the shortest period possible.
The result this year, with additional games from the Scottish Premier League and Championship, is a mammoth 12 televised matches in four days. And with both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day understandably spared from the saturation coverage (3pm has been locked down by Her Majesty), five of those fixtures are scheduled for one gloriously gluttonous Boxing Day.
It’s like the back-to-back bombardment of the Euros all over again, but with the waistcoats replaced by woolly jumpers and the pies replaced with, er, more pies. So pile up those leftover-filled sarnies. Football’s coming home.
Day 1 – Friday 21 December
Wolves v Liverpool, 7pm, Sky Sports Premier League/HD (CH 512/502)
Wolves took three games to register a win this season. Then they went five without defeat, before losing four of the five games after that. Inconsistent they may be, but they held both Manchester clubs, Arsenal and Everton to draws during that time. Now their rollercoaster Premier League return continues against a Reds side with eyes on the top prize this season.
Day 2 – Saturday 22 December
Cardiff v Manchester United, 5pm, BT Sport 1/HD (CH 531/527)
Cardiff couldn’t do it, could they? Well, if United’s capitulation at the hands of newly promoted Huddersfield last season is anything to go by, yes, they bloomin’ well could. What The Bluebirds lack in quality, they make up for in cold, hard character. Elsewhere Arsenal take on Burnley, while Swansea travel to Hull.
Arsenal v Burnley, 11.30am, Sky Sports Premier League/HD, (CH 512/502)
Hull v Swansea, 5.15pm, Sky Sports Football/HD (CH 513/503)
Day 3 – Sunday 23 December
Everton v Tottenham, 3.30pm, Sky Sports Premier League/HD, (CH 512/502)
Spurs love a trip to Goodison Park. Mauricio Pochettino’s men haven’t lost at Everton for six years – a trend that’s likely to continue considering no team has won more games on the road this season. For The Toffees, this clash completes a testing five-game period, during which they’ve contested a Merseyside derby and travelled to Manchester City. There are also two other big ties to get stuck into.
Aston Villa v Leeds, 1pm, Sky Sports Football/HD (CH 513/503)
St Johnstone v Rangers, 11.45am, BT Sport 1/HD (CH 531/527)
Day 4 – Boxing Day
Fulham v Wolves, 12pm, Brighton v Arsenal, 5pm, and Watford v Chelsea, 7.15pm, all Sky Sports Premier League/HD, (CH 512/502)
Behold your Boxing Day bonanza! Claudio’s Craven Cottage comeback continues against an unpredictable Wolves side that goes from the sublime to the ridiculous under the enjoyably animated Nuno Espírito Santo. Meanwhile, disastrous results in last season’s corresponding fixtures for both Arsenal and Chelsea signalled the beginning of the end for then managers Arsene Wenger and Antonio Conte. Now new helmsmen have brought renewed positivity as an enthralling title race rolls on. Plus, don’t miss out on Championship and SPL action elsewhere.
Sheffield United v Derby, 2.55pm, Sky Sports Football/HD (CH 513/503)
Aberdeen v Celtic, 1.45pm, BT Sport 2/HD (CH 532/528)
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