We’ll set the table by bringing you a little something courtesy of the good folks over at World Soccer Talk (and something they saw over at Reddit). In short, the Premier League hasn’t been this competitive at the top since 1974-75, when a win only counted for two points and goals per game was the tie-breaker, not goal differential.
Boxing Day is a tradition in English football, and it continues this year as all 20 teams will be in action. Here’s the rundown:
Hull City vs. Manchester United – 7:45 AM ET/4:45 AM PT on NBCSN
– The last time these two squads faced off was Jan. 23, 2010 a 4-0 win for United in which Wayne Rooney scored four times. Only a month earlier, the Red Devils defeated Hull 3-1 at the home of the Tigers. United will still be without Van Persie and this week we’ve found out Marouane Fellaini will be out for at least a month as well. But even with Nani out, United should be able to handle Hull just fine.
Chelsea vs. Swansea City – 10 AM ET/7 AM PT on NBCSN
– Chelsea are coming off their 0-0 draw at the Emirates in the rain on Monday. In their match at Stamford Bridge in the Premiership last season, Chelsea won 2-0 with goals from Frank Lampard and Oscar. However, Swansea won 2-0 on aggregate in the two-legged Capital One Cup semifinals. Chelsea should have this, but that’s why these games aren’t played on paper.
Aston Villa vs. Crystal Palace – 10 AM ET/7 AM PT
– Crystal Palace have struggled this season, managing only 13 points in 17 matches played and are currently in the drop zone, but could see themselves escape with a victory on Boxing Day. Palace fell 3-0 to Newcastle in their last match but have seen Marouane Chamakh reach solid form in recent games. Villa have lost each of their last three matches and have yet to see anyone total five goals on the season, but with this one at home, look to Benteke and Kozak to step up big.
West Ham United vs. Arsenal – 10 AM ET/7 AM PT
– Yet another London derby, this one pits the boys in red from the north (or yellow and blue as we may see) against the boys in claret and blue from the east of London. The Hammers have only four points out of their last five matches, with Carlton Cole scoring twice in that time. Similar enough to Chelsea, this is one that Arsenal should take.
Cardiff City vs. Southampton – 10 AM ET/7 AM PT
– At one point this season, Southampton had been among the best in the Premier League but now they’re winless in their last six matches, including a 3-2 loss at home to Aston Villa. It’s been an interesting week for Cardiff City, as reports had come out Vincent Tan would force out Malky Mackay, only for Mackay to say that he is going nowhere.
Everton vs. Sunderland – 10 AM ET/7 AM PT
– Two intriguing goal-scoring forwards on display here; Romelu Lukaku and Jozy Altidore. Here’s to both of these men providing us with some more presents (yes, I’m gonna keep running with this) on Boxing Day.
Newcastle vs. Stoke City – 10 AM ET/7 AM PT
– Are you searching for an American seeing the field in England on Boxing Day? Bring up NBC’s Live Extra to see Geoff Cameron! In all seriousness, Newcastle are only four points out of the Top 5 and have a higher goal differential than Spurs. The boys in the black and white stripes have not lost in their last three matches, including a 1-0 win at Old Trafford. Loic Remy has eight goals and two assists in 15 matches and may be looked to on Thursday as well.
Norwich City vs. Fulham – 10 AM ET/7 AM PT
– Fulham recently agreed to a two-month loan deal to bring back Clint Dempsey, though that will not begin until the New Year. For now, the Cottagers will look to shake off losses to Everton and City in this visit to Carrow Road, lacking a goalscorer who has totaled more than three. Norwich have mustered only one point – and one goal – in their last two matches. Gary Hooper has scored twice though in their last three games for a total of four on the season.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Bromwich Albion – 10 AM ET/7 AM PT
– This will be Tim Sherwood’s first match with the “interim” title removed. Sherwood takes the helm at a time when Spurs are unusually out of the Top Five, and even with a win would still be outside looking in. Though Emmanuel Adebayor powered Spurs to a 3-2 win over Southampton their last time out, losses to West Ham and Liverpool prior certainly hurt Tottenham and helping contribute to AVB’s firing. For West Brom, recent weeks have seen the firing of Steve Clarke and
after grabbing only one point from the last three matches after not winning SINCE NOVEMBER 2, the fear of the drop has likely started to creep into the minds of West Brom fans. Can Shane Long help lead this team back up the table? Likely not against Tottenham, that’s for sure.
Manchester City vs. Liverpool – 12:30 PM ET/9:30 AM PT on NBCSN
For more on this match, check out Joe’s work with our Liverpool at Manchester City Match Preview