As it always has, Boxing Day provided the eagerly anticipating Premier League supporters with some very well-rounded matchups, but to be truly honest, that is sort of the case every week, with the competition as even between the bigger and smaller clubs as it has ever been. Some decided that the game between Chelsea and Watford was set to be a thriller, while others placed more emphasis on the game between Stoke and Manchester United as Van Gaal’s job, reportedly, depended on it. There were also some other very curious, from a neutral person’s point of view, games, such as the ones between Leicester and Liverpool and Southampton vs. Arsenal as they provided us with a very intriguing battle of, in some cases, varying tactics, while in others, similar ones. Leicester like to hit on the break, and so do Liverpool, while Arsenal opt for beautiful possession football, quite the contrary to Southampton’s more direct and counter attacking style.
In the early game on this historical day, Stoke ‘surprised’ (should we even say that anymore?) Man United with two goals, one of which came early on from a horrendous mistake by a United player, as is sort of typical nowadays, this time, the name being that of Memphis Depay. In Depay’s defense…actually, now that I come to think of it, there is nothing to say in his defense. Perhaps we can say that he was taking heading lessons from Juan Mata? That seems likely.
Stoke are currently playing vintage Barcelona type of football and United were lucky they got away being hit with just 2 goals, the second coming through an absolute belter by Marko Arnautovic from just outside the box, which, I think, left De Gea wishing he had the privilege of slo-mo during such events. Fantasy players, this might be a good time to invest in Shaqiri and Arnautovic if you haven’t done so already (at the very least these two). 🙂
Manchester City got their job done at struggling Sunderland, beating them 4-1. Chelsea, oh my Chelsea, didn’t get their first win under Guus Hiddink against in-form Watford, drawing against them at 2 goals each. The main thing to note from this game: Costa scored twice. Yes, Diego Costa, not Douglas Costa of Bayern. And, then guess what he did?
Yeah, you guessed right, he got himself suspended again.
Aston Villa clinched a point at West Ham while Bournemouth and Crystal Palace played out a dull 0-0 draw. Newcastle thought they held off Everton and at times, would consider themselves unlucky for not getting on the scoresheet, until extra time, when Tom Cleverley scored a header from a corner. Guess Depay should’ve picked this guy to take heading lessons from.
Swansea and Spurs both won their games and Kane scored twice for the latter, one from a pen, and the other from open play. This player, in my opinion, has a really, really bright future, and I would even go as far as say that he will be on the Ballon d’Or shortlist sometime in the coming years if he keeps going like this. And I’m not even a Spurs fan.
Alas, the two ‘curious’ matchups, as described above, both ended in surprising results, though much of it depends on which side of the table you sit when it comes to the Leicester hype. Liverpool, after losing (getting humiliated, I should say) to Watford the previous weekend, somehow managed to win against this, simply stated, freakin’ awesome almost fairy-tale like Leicester side. In Leicester’s defense, the tinker-man Claudio Ranieri had taken Vardy and Mahrez off at the interval, which, I guess, presented Jürgen Klopp with a late Christmas gift he just couldn’t refuse.
Southampton, literally, destroyed Arsenal, but quite how they accomplished this feat remains as difficult to explain as their first goal, scored by Cuco Martina. If you haven’t seen the goal yet, watch it here:
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Southampton won by a margin of 4 goals, with Shane Long chipping in 2 by his name during the quite lengthy evening, it would seem from Arsenal’s perspective.
I do not know why, or quite how, the Premier League board thought that the festive period wasn’t busy enough and decided to add an extra line of fixtures just one day after the heated Boxing Day matches. I even feel bad for the Leicester and Man City players, who had two days to rest instead of just one. Regardless, the action was underway, and the fans didn’t feel too bad about it as the players probably felt.
The Everton and Stoke match turned out to be a thriller, and that’s understating it. In my opinion, it was quite reflective of when Everton faced Chelsea at Goodison Park earlier during the beginning stages of the previous season. Anyways, I’m definitely replaying the action sometime later, as it was just too good to consume in just one view of the ninety minutes. Oh, and Shaqiri scored a delightful sort-of-chip goal that couldn’t have been better placed in Tim Howard’s goal.
Man United played out a replay of the draw between them and Chelsea from two seasons ago during Mourinho’s first campaign in charge upon his return. The game on Tuesday between Leicester and Manchester City was undoubtedly the match from this round of fixtures unless you honestly considered the two aforementioned for playing out a thriller. However, the results were the same, as both Leicester and Man City failed to produce any real chances, and in that sense, perhaps the Man United versus Chelsea game was actually better. Regardless, the Premier League’s busiest days have been fun to watch so far overall, and it will, though it might seem a bit too greedy coming from a fan, hopefully, be even more entertaining come the New Year.