For the first time in years, there will be absolutely no games which will be played on Christmas Eve this season. The decision that none of the games which were scheduled for the 23rd of December were going to be moved there for live television coverage sent people in a short tail-spin.
Previously, it was highly anticipated that Liverpool’s trip to London facing off against Arsenal at the Emirates stadium was going to be moved to the 24th from the 23rd to make for an amazing Christmas Eve special. Instead, the game was moved to the 22nd of December and will kick off at 19:45 GMT.
There were three other fixtures which have affected by the change in schedule as well. The 15:00 slot on Christmas Eve became an unviable option and the Everton vs Chelsea, Burnley vs Tottenham and the Leicester vs Manchester United games have seen a change in proceedings.
The trip that Conte’s brilliant Chelsea side was supposed to make to the Goodison Park stadium has been moved to a kickoff time of 12:30 GMT on the 23rd of December, making for a more routine Saturday fixture. Everton, as strong as they have gotten on paper in terms of the squad members they have recently acquired, have not been very impressive so far in the season. Even Wayne Rooney joined the ranks of the Evertonian squad 13 years after he left Everton and traded the blue jersey for the red colours of Ferguson’s Manchester United. Hailed as a cult hero for both Everton and United, Rooney made himself into an impressive footballer after his bright start at Everton. Even Rooney hasn’t been able to prop up Everton’s less than impressive season. It seems very likely that Conte’s Chelsea squad will emerge victorious at Goodison Park but it is still something which remains to be seen.
Tottenham’s trip to Burnley has been moved to 17:70 GMT on Saturday as well. Going strong after the likes of Delle Ali, Kane and Son rallying the squad with excellent performances throughout the season so far, Spurs are really going to be challenged by a surprising team this season. Burnley and Spurs are going into this game head to head in the points, both teams sitting at 31 points so far. Tottenham clinches the 4th position based on the superior number of goals they have scored so far thanks to their excellent attacking midfield and Harry Kane’s remarkable form this season but Burnley are not the underdogs anymore and will put up a good fight.
The last game on Saturday will be Manchester United’s trip to Leicester’s King Power stadium. The formerly most dominant side will be going to the home of the most surprising Premier League winners one season ago. It is another highly anticipated game to watch as Leicester has seen a recent change in their form and their star player Mahrez has suddenly found the amazing form which we saw in the season where Leicester took everyone in the world by surprise by winning the league straight off the bat after their promotion.
United has never been the same after Ferguson left with a couple of managerial stints that failed to impress and inspire the United faithful. Mourinho has recently come into the managerial role and his impact has been clearly visible so far. The signings that the self-proclaimed “Special One” has catalyzed United’s return to being the champions again like attitude have got the United’s faithful excited. The team’s performances have shown some semblance of the Ferguson era United where anyone going up against them knew they were bound to lose and it was just a matter of how many goals they would have to concede before the final whistle. Last year saw the world’s favorite and most successful nomad striker Zlatan Ibrahimovich come into the attacking role in the United squad – something which was previously only realized on FIFA’s manager mode. To add to that, Mourinho also convinced former United youngster who turned into a star at Juventus in Italy, Pogba to rejoin United on a world record transfer fee.
As good as the two signings were, they did not immediately make for a title winning squad with much more needed to be done in the defensive midfield area. Pogba’s role was limited to more of a role right in front of the defense line being able to make the occasional long passes from that area. That really hampered the attacking potential of the world’s most prolific young French midfielder. However, this season saw the signing of the tall Serbian Nemanja Matic. This beast of a defensive midfielder came into the squad and changed the whole dynamic and let Pogba, Lukaku and United’s homegrown Lingard and Rashford on the loose accompanied by the brilliant Martial. Let’s see how the proceedings go. United are heavy favorites in spite of their recent loss to cross city rivals Manchester City because De Gea is in the best goalkeeping form of his life right now.
Christmas Eve and Christmas day are going to be dry days, football action wise but right after on the 26th, Tottenham and Liverpool will be feeling the double whammy like some sort of ghost of Christmas with matched scheduled for both of them. Tottenham will take on an in form Southampton and Liverpool will take on Swansea at 12:30 GMT and 17:30 GMT respectively. Even though Spurs and Liverpool both are in excellent form with Mohammad Salah exhibiting his most prolific performances in his career for Klop’s Revived Liverpool side, they will be tough fixtures for both Premier League giants having consecutive games after only a few days in between them.
City, the inevitable champions for the season will be taking on newly promoted Newcastle on the 27th. In the German Bundesliga, the projected champions are sitting atop the league with 38 points. United has 38 points in this season so far but they are still 11 points behind Pep Guardiola’s magical City team which is going strong with a 16-game winning streak. It is the longest winning streak for any English team in the league and it is already clear that they will be crowned the English champions this time around even though we’re barely half way through the season. City has taken care of anything and everything other teams have thrown at them and Newcastle doesn’t seem to be the kind of side which can do anything about it. City will win it even if they play with both their hands and feet tied.
The last game for this Christmas season before the new year begins is Arsenal’s trip to Selhurst park, facing off against Crystal Palace. Any other season and it would be considered a definite victory for the Gunners but right now, Arsenal are closer to the bottom team Crystal Palace than to the League leaders, City in terms of points.
It will be a merry Christmas full of exciting games, fellow football lovers. Happy holidays!