With four of Europe’s five elite club leagues going dormant in the Christmas period, all eyes will be on the Premier League as the only live football on tv. Here are the four most exciting matches to watch out for during the holidays.
Liverpool vs Leeds United – Boxing Day, December 26, 2020
Premier League Boxing Day gets underway at Anfield as the latest chapter of a long-standing rivalry pits Liverpool against Leeds United.
The sides will meet in contrasting circumstances, given the Reds are challenging for the title while the Whites are fighting tooth and nail to avoid being sucked into a relegation fight.
Since earning top-flight promotion in 2020/21, Leeds have failed to win any of their three league encounters against the Merseyside outfit (D1, L2), losing 3-0 in the reverse fixture back in September.
Jurgen Klopp’s men currently sit just three points adrift of Premier League pacesetters Manchester City, meaning they can ill-afford a slip-up against underperforming opposition.
Meanwhile, despite harbouring a five-point lead over 18th-placed Burnley, the Elland Road side have also played three more matches than the Clarets, as a relegation battle looms.
Newcastle United vs Manchester United – Boxing Day, December 27, 2020
The Saudi-led consortium’s takeover has failed to reignite Newcastle United’s thoroughly underwhelming Premier League campaign so far, as they welcome Manchester United to St James’ Park in their last top-flight fixture in 2021.
Coming into this matchday, the Magpies have suffered three league defeats in a row, returning a humiliating -10 goal difference from that run (GF:1, GA:11).
But despite racking up just one victory after 18 rounds, Eddie Howe’s men have realistic chances of avoiding relegation as they trail 17th-placed Watford by three points.
With the Hornets having two games in hand over Newcastle, Man United’s visit to Tyneside could inflict another massive blow on the home team’s hopes of staying in England’s top-flight for another season.
Led by new interim boss Ralf Rangnick, the Red Devils racked up back-to-back 1-0 Premier League triumphs before another Covid-19 outbreak postponed their last two league matches.
United’s mini-revival in the post-Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s era fired the three-time European champions to just five points below fourth-placed Arsenal, over whom they have two games in hand. This the kind of game United must win if they are to succeed in 2022 and beyond.
Arsenal vs Manchester City – New Year’s Day, January 1, 2022
Not many fixtures will attract more attention at the start of 2022 than a Premier League classic between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners have put a horrendous start to the season firmly behind as they head into proceedings as genuine top-four contenders following a renaissance under Mikel Arteta.
A run of three multi-goal victories in December has sparked hopes among the Emirates faithful that Arsenal could secure their first Premier League top-four finish since 2015/16 this term.
Yet, Arteta’s team may have to seek points elsewhere as they are up against a Man City side they’ve lost to in 11 previous top-flight H2Hs on the trot.
Moreover, the defending Premier League champions have hit the ground running since falling to a shock 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace in October, putting together eight league wins in a row since.h
Regardless of the outcome at the Emirates, this promises to be a true spectacle for neutrals.
Chelsea vs Liverpool – New Year’s Day, January 2, 2022
Thomas Tuchel will hope to have all of his Covid-infected players back in shape for Liverpool’s blockbuster visit to Stamford Bridge on January 2, 2022.
Both sides are firmly in contention for the Premier League crown, though a potential defeat might inflict irreversible damage on the Blues’ title hopes as they already trail top-placed Man City by six points.
A noticeable dip in form, which has coincided with Romelu Lukaku’s long-term absence from the pitch, has seen Chelsea pick up just one win in their last four league outings (D2, L1).
Therefore, there will be virtually no margin for error when the Reds arrive in west London, though it’s worth noting that the reigning Champions League holders have lost both previous top-flight H2Hs on home turf.
Meanwhile, a defeat for Liverpool would undo plenty of Klopp’s good work this season, with the Merseysiders succumbing to a single Premier League reverse to date (W12, D5).
Boasting the Premier League’s most prolific attack (50 goals scored) comes in handy as they take on the division’s second-best defense, with Chelsea conceding just 12 times in the league this term.