SOCCER

Boxing Day Fixtures In English Premier League

Dec 23, 2021, 3:17 PM | Updated: 3:18 pm
Christian Pulisic of Chelsea...
Christian Pulisic of Chelsea in action during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Chelsea at Villa Park on May 23, 2021 in Birmingham, England. A limited number of fans will be allowed into Premier League stadiums as Coronavirus restrictions begin to ease in the UK following the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
(Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – As Covid-19 continues to disrupt teams and the packed festive schedule, teams along with the Premier League decided to push on through the increased number of cases and fulfill their pack holiday period.  

Last weekend Wolves frustrated Chelsea as the third-placed Blues just couldn’t get going properly as they struggled to take advantage of their superiority. And it’ll go down as a hard-fought point that does Wolves more good than Chelsea. Man City were able to go three points clear at the top as they walloped Newcastle 4-0 and were helped by a very entertaining draw between Spurs and Liverpool. It was an advert for everything we love about this league. Goals, chances, a red card, great saves, and more frustratingly, missed calls for other red cards and penalty no calls. It had everything you wanted in a match and only adds to the excitement for this round of matches. In better news, at the time of writing this article, so far, no Premier League games have been called off for Boxing Day Sunday. 

Tottenham Hotspur Vs Crystal Palace 

This might just be the fixture of the weekend for me, as Palace from south of the River Thames head north of the river for a showdown with Spurs at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. You can catch this match on the USA Network Sunday at 8:00 a.m. 

Spurs were great against Liverpool in the 2-2 draw last weekend, especially after a break in games because of their Covid-19 outbreak. But this game will be completely different against Palace. Liverpool is a team that likes to have the ball, and Spurs used that to their advantage. Hitting the Reds on the counterattack time and time again, and if Spurs had been a little sharper they would’ve won. Dele Alli had a solid game in what was his first start under Antonio Conte. And he really needs to grasp this opportunity as his career has been on a general downward spiral for at least two years. If he can get back to his best, he’ll not only feature heavily for Spurs, getting involved in the attacking third but he’ll also be involved with England again. He really is a very good player, but his attitude and performances have left a lot to be desired. Another player who looked refreshed and ready to kick start his season was Harry Kane. He scored a very good goal and worked his socks off throughout the game. Should he have been sent off? Yes. In what was another glaring mistake by those who are using VAR. 

Spurs will need Kane and Son (who was also very good) to hit it off again as they look to use their three games in hand to try and break into the top four places. 

Palace under the guidance if Patrick Vieira are starting to show good value for their eleventh place position, they will also have an eye on securing EPL safety asap and then maybe pushing for a Europa berth, which might be a little too much to ask under their new manager. Whilst being defensively solid, which is what former manager, Roy Hodgson, built the club on, Vieira has given them more license to express themselves in the attack. Conor Gallagher has added some much-needed offensive mind in the midfield, something we haven’t seen in recent years. The on-loan Chelsea man leads the scoring charts for Palace with six goals, one more than tricky attacker, Wilfried Zaha. Gallagher has also weighed in with three assists, which also leads the team. But it’s not just his stats that are impressive, the box-to-box midfielder has it all, the ability to drive forward with the ball, and connect the midfield with the attack. He has a special ability to find the ball in dangerous areas. To watch his progression, and the hope that Dele Alli finds his way again could be really good news for England. 

Prediction 

This one should have plenty of great soccer. I do expect that Spurs will be the aggressors as the home team, but Palace are such a tough and entertaining team that I expect this to be a thriller. I want to pick Spurs as the winner, but I can’t write Palace off. So I’ll sit on the fence with a very good and breathtaking draw. 

Aston Villa Vs Chelsea 

This is the KSL 5 premiere EPL match, a Sunday 10:30 a.m. kick-off. And this one has a good chance to entertain. Villa under the stewardship of Steven Gerrard has been great. Four wins and two losses in the games he’s taking charge of, and those two losses were against the top two teams. Villa showed stubborn resistance against Man City and Liverpool in extremely close games and if they had taken a point away with them, the top two wouldn’t have had any complaints, such was the respect for how well Villa performed. Villa have started to get to grips with life after Jack Grealish. It was always going to be an adjustment period, but with the money from the Grealish sale being seemingly well spent I was sure after a few games they’d start to find their feet. This wasn’t to be the case though as the adjustment was tough and ended in former manager, Dean Smith, getting his marching orders. Since Gerrard has taken over, I’ve noticed two things. Ollie Watkins has moved into a more central attacking area, and whilst he’s a very good wide forward, he is involved much more in the central areas, and this affects the game positively. The other is Jacob Ramsey, a product of the famed Aston Villa academy. And compared to how he played under the previous manager, he now seems more settled and looks much more confident under Gerrard. Villa is a hardworking and combative team, much like the characteristics of their manager, Steven Gerrard. Now, if they can just harness his world-class ability characteristics then I’d expect a title challenge. Joking aside, this team will work hard regardless of who is on the pitch, such is the respect awarded to Gerrard. The organization at the back, while not perfect, has given them a base to work with. The midfield will look to dominate Chelsea, with the pressing they employ, what they lack in quality is made up with getting opponents to give up the ball and allow the likes of Watkins, Ramsey, Ings, Buendía, and others to work closer to the other team’s goal.  

Chelsea has struggled of late, but they have continued to try and find solutions through the covid cases and injuries they’ve been dealing with. At full strength, they are without doubt title contenders, but this cruel test (same for all the teams) of squad depth has just hampered their charge. And whilst they are not out of the race, they’ll have to start maximizing points again. The goals have dried up a bit, and that once organized back three is leaking goals. Of course, most teams have little wobbles during the season and the Blues will hope that it’s just that and as players come back from isolation that they’ll find their feet again. One player they’ll hope to get them firing again is Mason Mount, another player that we’ve watched grow before our eyes, and he is now one of the first names on the team sheet for club and country. His increasing influence on games, not just goals and assists, but more him dictating the play, and orchestrating attacks, and then throwing in his versatility to switch between the #8 or the #10 and his ability to play in the wider attacking areas make him a manager’s dream. Should he start, I expect him to have an impact on the game, providing ammunition for those in and around the penalty area.  

Prediction  

It’ll be a fantastic encounter with plenty of chances created, I just think we’ll see Chelsea start to find their rhythm again, but they’ll be matched all over the pitch by a Villa team whose future is looking more and more bright. 

That’ll do it for the Boxing Day preview, we’ll be back on Monday as EPL managers will be stressing over how far they can push their players as most teams will face two games in 48 hours. 

Happy Holidays to you and yours. 

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Boxing Day Fixtures In English Premier League