With the festive season upon us the traditional Boxing Day matches are here and we take look at some of the major fixtures to look out for.
STOKE CITY VS MANCHESTER UNITED (KICK OFF – 12:45GMT)
Anything short of a win could spell doom for under pressure manager Louis Van Gaal whose team have gone 6 games without a win- the latest being a 2-1 loss to Norwich at home. The Red Devils have been heavily criticized for their lackluster style of play under Dutchman with many calling for him to be axed. With Jose Mourinho’s sacking last week, no manager is really safe. However, the United manager has been adamant, insisting that the era in which United were expected to win week in week out was over and that many clubs had caught up with big money being pumped in. Well Louis, you were given 250million pounds to work with. Stoke City have not been in the best of forms either. They followed a big win against City with two consecutive losses and now will be looking to bounce back against a United team low on confidence at the moment. Their last outing was a 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace. Stoke have beaten United once in 14 attempts.
CHELSEA VS WATFORD (KICK OFF – 15:00GMT)
Chelsea post Jose started with a 3-1 win over Sunderland with the home fans showing their support for the departed Special One. Gus Hiddink has been called to the helm till the end of the season and has called for all the players to take an ultra-critical look at themselves in the mirror as Chelsea try to push themselves further up the league table into the top half at least. This is isn’t Hiddink’s first time of being in a situation like this with the Blues. Back in 2009 he was called up after the sacking of Scolari and guided Chelsea on a run which saw them lose once and win the F.A cup. For Watford, the story could not be any different. They sit one point of the top four places after 3 consecutive wins the latest being a 3-0 thumping of Liverpool. Strikers Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeny are in fine form with the former scoring 12 goals so far this season. Based on current form, the Hornets look favourites to win this but with Chelsea showing signs of recovery against Sunderland, anything is possible.
LIVERPOOL VS LEICESTER CITY (KICK OFF – 15:00GMT)
Leicester City are on top at Christmas for the first time in their history. The Foxes have been in fine form with Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez being the stand out performers. They have lost only once this season and that was back in September against Arsenal. Manager Claudio Ranieri has been cautious not to get carried away and still insists the 40 point mark is the target for the Foxes. Their last Premier League outing was a 3-2 win against Everton which Mahrez described as their toughest away win this campaign. Liverpool on the other hand had a disappointing 3-0 loss against Watford in their last game. The Reds have no win in their last 3 matches and will be hoping that the table toppers will have an off day at Anfield. Leicester City have the chance to further extend their lead at the top with a win here but against a Liverpool side with a point to prove and desperate to get back to winning ways, nothing is really certain for the Foxes.
MANCHESTER CITY VS SUNDERLAND (KICK OFF – 15:00GMT)
After their 5th loss of the season against Arsenal on Monday Night, Manchester now have a daunting task ahead in their pursuit of the title considering no team as lost 5 games before the first half of the season and still gone on to win the title since Everton in 86/87. City however will be confident of rubbishing such statistics. They face a Sunderland side who have never won at the Etihad and will look to get back to winning ways after the setback against Arsenal. There is a major boost for the Citizens as Captain Vincent Kompany is set to make a return back from injury. Sunderland gave a poor performance against Chelsea in their last game. They lost 3-1 to the Blues and are now second from bottom on the table. The Black Cats manager, Sam Allardyce will want a big response following that loss from his team as they battle to beat the drop this season.
SOUTHAMPTON VS ARSENAL (KICK OFF – 19:45GMT)
Is this finally Arsenal’s year, can they finally win the title? Well the stats support that. In the last 2 seasons Arsenal won the title, they were 2nd at Christmas. Despite that stat, the Gunners will be wary not to get carried away. Mostly accused of falling asleep in the title race in previous years, this season feels different. With many supposed big teams falling off this season, consistency has the buzzword for the Gunners. They are just two points off leaders Leicester and with that big win against contenders Manchester City on Monday night, the Gunners title ambitions are clear. They face a Southampton side who are winless in five matches and struggling for form at the moment. Star man Mesut Ozil grabbed his 14th and 15th assist of the season against City and is on course to break the record of 20 assists in a season set by Thierry Henry. Olivier Giroud is another worthy mention with 10 goals to his name so far this season in the league. The Saints who were 4th at this point last season are languishing in 12th this time round. They have lost six games so far this season and their home form has been rotten. The visit of Arsenal will not be welcome as the Gunners are currently on fire and will want to keep leaders Leicester City honest with a win.
Merry Christmas from the SightsOnUnited Team! 🙂