Another weekend, another stacked lineup of soccer action. Boxing Day means a full schedule of Premier League in one day, making it the best holiday tradition for soccer lovers. With most major European leagues on winter break, it gives some of the lesser-known leagues a chance to shine. Here are a few of the games that you should keep an extra eye on this weekend.
Stoke City – Manchester United (Premier League Matchday 18):
If Manchester United fails to break the four-game winless streak in the league on Saturday against Stoke, then manager Louis van Gaal might be getting the boot. There’s been a lot of speculation in the media that if United don’t leave the Britannia Stadium with three points then the Dutchman is done. United is coming off back-to-back losses to newcomers Bournemouth and Norwich City.
Stoke has been a mixed bag so far this season, having gotten wins over Chelsea and Manchester City on one end, but having scoreless draws against Newcastle and a injury-riddled West Ham. Stoke is coming off a 2-1 loss against Crystal Palace after conceding a goal in the 89th minute.
Liverpool – Leicester City (Premier League Matchday 18):
League leaders Leicester travel to Liverpool and Anfield on Boxing Day as they try to stay top of the league and keep Arsenal at bay. The Foxes are on a 10-game unbeaten run in the league and is coming off a 3-2 over Everton.
Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy have been outstanding for Leicester all season and sit at the top at the scoring table with Vardy leading on 15 goals and Mahrz sitting second with 13.
Liverpool suffered a humiliating 3-0 defeat to Watford last weekend. There’s no shame in losing to Watford, but the way that Liverpool looked is what’s concerning for the Reds faithful.
Southampton – Arsenal (Premier League Matchday 18):
Arsenal will be ready to pounce and overtake Leicester at the top should they fail to beat Liverpool. The Gunners are two points behind Leicester and will be feeling good after beating Manchester City 2-1 last weekend.
Southampton has been in poor form as of late, losing four out the last five league games. Southampton’s last win in the league came in early November against Sunderland. Since then they’ve been outscored 8-3 in the league and also suffered a 6-1 thumping by Liverpool in the Capital One Cup.
Heart of Midlothian – Celtic (Scottish Premiership Matchday 19):
Hearts host leaders Celtic on Sunday at the Tynecastle Stadium in Edinburgh. Celtic leads the Scottish Premiership on 42 points, one point ahead of second-placed Aberdeen and 10 points ahead of third-placed Hearts. Celtic heads into the game with a 13-3-2 record and a +31 goal difference. They did suffer a 2-1 defeat to Motherwell last weekend.
Hearts is coming off a 1-0 loss to Aberdeen, and only has one win in the last five games. The last meeting between the teams back in late October in the league cup ended with Celtic taking a 2-1 win. The previous league meeting ended in a 0-0 draw at Celtic Park back in late September.
Besiktas – Konyaspor (Turkish Super Lig Matchday 17):
Turkish Super Lig leaders Besiktas will look to keep Fenerbahce at bay at the top of the table as they host seventh-placed Konyaspor on Sunday at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul. Besiktas sits at the top of the standings with 38 points, one point ahead of second-placed Fenerbahce.
Besiktas is on a four-game winning-streak in all competitions and is coming off a 2-0 win over Sivas Belediye Spor in the Turkish Cup. German striker Mario Gomez leads the team in goals with 11 league goals in 15 games. Konyaspor is on a three-game winning-streak in all competitions. Konyaspor won the fixture last season 1-0 after a late goal by Gabriel Torje.