The Boxing Day fixtures are usually one of the highlights of the Premier League season, however, this campaign will be a different one with only Anfield set to host fans during this round of games following the government’s recent announcement.
In a season as uniquen as this, the milestone of the Christmas Day table can also be taken with a pinch of salt due to a later start. Despite this, usual stats regarding the positions of teams and their significance will be rolled out.
It’s Liverpool top of the tree ahead of the big day for a third consecutive season, a feat no other team has achieved in the Premier League era, and will hope it results in retaining their league crown they won for a first time in 30 years last season.
At the wrong end of the table, it’s Sheffield United propping up the table and are still the only side without a win. Only three sides have survived having been bottom at this point in the season (West Brom – 2004/05, Sunderland – 2013/14 and Leicester City – 2014/15), although each of those sides had 10 points by that stage, eight more than the Blades.
Despite all the limitations that have come with this season, there’s still a few Boxing Day crackers to look forward to during this period.
Premier League Game of the Round: Leicester City vs Manchester United
Second hosts third to start Boxing Day proceedings, with the prize of closing the gap to league leaders Liverpool to either one or two points plenty of motivation for Leicester and Manchester United.
This game last season came on the final day, which effectively became a Champions League shootout that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side won 2-0, with this and their away form giving them plenty of confidence ahead of this clash at the King Power Stadium.
They are the only side to win every away league game this season, with their current side perfectly set up to play away from home due to their pace and precision on the counter-attack from the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
For Leicester and Brendan Rodgers meanwhile, it’s about finding the consistency to see them keep pace with the best in the league. Impressive away wins at Manchester City and Tottenham have coincided with home defeats to Fulham and West Ham, while just a third of their points have come from home games this season to highlight an area of improvement.
Speaking of improvement, Foxes fans will be hoping to see another dynamic display from one-time Manchester United transfer target James Maddison and help them earn the three points in what is one of the standout ties this round.
Rest of the Round
Crystal Palace will be hoping to avoid another seven-goal thumping when they travel to a side that have already scored seven goals in a game this season in Aston Villa, while Fulham host Southampton.
There’s a London derby to look forward to later as a despondent Arsenal host Chelsea, while Newcastle United travel to Manchester City and Sheffield United face Everton to complete the games on Boxing Day.
Four games take place the following day, beginning with Leeds United against Burnley, while West Ham face Brighton.
Liverpool host West Brom, which sees the return of Sam Allardyce to Anfield, with him being the last manager to win a league game there when in charge of Crystal Palace in April 2017.
The round concludes with another intriguing contest between Wolves and Tottenham, as Jose Mourinho comes up against Nuno Espirito Santo, with the pair enjoying plenty of success together during their time at Porto together as manager and player respectively.
Premier League Player to Watch: Roberto Firmino – Liverpool – £0.98
Premier League goals have come like proverbial buses for Roberto Firmino in recent games, with the Brazilian looking back to his free-flowing best.
Prior to the Tottenham win he had scored three goals in his last 27 league games – he’s now scored the same number in his last two games, including a brace and assist in the 7-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace.
With his role in this Liverpool side unfairly questioned this campaign, especially following the form of Diogo Jota, the 29-year-old has reminded fans and critics alike of what he’s capable of and why he’s so important to the success of Jurgen Klopp’s side.