football

What’s on the Box: Your Christmas Football TV Guide

December 16, 2016

- Grant Whittington

As the piercing cold of winter advances, the festive football calendar is just beginning to hot up. A frenzy of key encounters take place over the yuletide period leading into the opening days of the New Year with this frantic part of the season often seen as a definitive phase in shaping a side’s campaign. Here is your early present of a guide to the must-see Premier League matches on TV over Christmas – the gift of football just keeps on giving.

Saturday 17th December

West Brom vs. Manchester United (BT Sport 1 – 5:30pm)

Odds: West Brom 4/1 Draw 11/4  Manchester United 4/6 

A morale-boosting three points for Jose Mourinho’s men at home to fellow top-four challengers Tottenham last Sunday has put the Red Devils back in contention for that final spot in Europe’s elite following a series of late setbacks and disappointing draws. The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ appears to finally be grasping a notion of his strongest side with the form of Armenian Henrikh Mkhitaryan particularly encouraging.

West Brom were a uncharacteristic Gareth Macaulay mistake from taking a point away from the leaders at Stamford Bridge and Tony Pulis will naturally ensure his side are organised and difficult to break down as they look to stay within touching distance of an unexpected European place.

Sunday 18th December

Manchester City vs. Arsenal (Sky Sports 1 – 4:00pm)

Odds: Manchester City 23/20 Draw 5/2 Arsenal 11/5

Pep Guardiola’s fragile defence and suspect goalkeeper Claudio Bravo face a stern test of their title credentials as Arsenal travel to the Etihad having suffered just one defeat since the opening day of the season. City talisman Sergio Aguero will miss this clash due to his red card against Chelsea and Arsene Wenger will fancy his side’s chances in front of the Sky cameras.

Monday 19th December

Everton vs. Liverpool (Sky Sports 1 – 8:00pm)

Odds: Everton 14/5 Draw 13/5 Liverpool 10/11

The first Merseyside derby of the season pits two sides who have tailed off in recent weeks. Liverpool’s capitulation at Dean Court was backed up by a sub-standard draw at home to West Ham.

On the other hand, Everton have been considerably worse in winning just two of their last eleven, but will be buoyed by their dramatic win against the Gunners last night. This will be Koeman’s first taste of a battle with his club’s arch-rivals in a fixture that has seen more red cards than any other in the Premier League.

Monday 26th December

Hull City vs. Manchester City (Sky Sports 1 – 5:15pm)

Odds: Hull City 9/1  Draw 7/2  Manchester City 1/3 

Being the former assistant manager of Sir Alex Ferguson during Manchester United’s trophy-laden era, Hull boss Mike Phelan will be pulling no punches on Boxing Day when City visit the KC Stadium. Dependent on how forthcoming results pan out, a win for the home side could move them out of the relegation zone.

Anything but a maximum haul for the blue half of Manchester will further question the effectiveness of Guardiola’s tactical philosophy as he continues to adapt to the fast and furious nature of the Premier League.

Wednesday 28th December

Southampton vs. Tottenham – 19:30 (Sky Sports 1)

Odds: Hull City 8/5  Draw 12/5  Tottenham 6/4 

Despite only losing once this season, Tottenham have lacked the cutting edge and dynamic energy of last year where they pushed Leicester all the way in the title race. Three hard-fought points here at St Mary’s could kick-start their season. The Saints have recovered from a slow start to climb inside the top 10 and record signing Sofiane Boufal looks an exciting prospect following his match-winning performance against Middlesborough.

Saturday 31st December

Liverpool v Manchester City (5:30pm – BT Sport 1)

A real clash of the titans at Anfield sees City grace the big screen for the third time in as many weeks. Jurgen Klopp has compiled a superb record against the so called ‘big clubs’ during his tenure at Liverpool and three points over one of their main rivals going into 2017 would be a welcome tonic for his side.

Tuesday 3rd January

Bournemouth v Arsenal 3rd January (7:30pm – Sky Sports 1)

This fixture is one for the conniseur with both sides aesthetically pleasing on the eye and strong advocates of the beautiful game being played in its purest form. Jack Wilshere will be unable to play against his parent club, but this is a match that promises artistry, goals and sees highly-rated Cherries boss Eddie Howe go head-to-head against Wenger – the longest-serving manager in the top-flight.

Wednesday 4th January

Tottenham v Chelsea (7:30pm – Sky Sports 1)

Chelsea could potentially roll into White Hart Lane on the back of 13 consecutive victories and a win here would set a new Premier League record – overthrowing Arsenal’s magnificent run from 2003. It would certainly make for a humdinger of a North-London derby.

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