It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, I’m not referring to College Football bowl season. It’s Premier League’s Festive Period! While other European leagues are taking a winter break, the BPL is upping the amount of action they have with another full slate of action just two days after Boxing Day, and a third matchday on New Year’s Day.
Does this crazy period hinder England’s ability to win major international tournaments? It’s certainly possible, but it also entertains the fans.
(All times Eastern)
Arsenal vs. Bournemouth (12:30 PM Monday)
In the past three games, Bournemouth have taken down both Chelsea and Manchester United. On paper that seems like quite the accomplishment until you realize that both those teams are terrible this season and odds are the manager that each team started the season with won’t be who they finish with.
Could Bournemouth do the seemingly impossible and take down Chelsea, United and Arsenal over a four-game span? They’ll be doing it against an Arsenal team coming off a 4-0 loss to Southampton with their first choice squad out there.
Ordinarily playing Bournemouth at home on the big Emirates pitch would be good remedy for Arsenal to get back into things, but that’s if you had the usual three days to a week between games. Arsenal have two days and their full squad all played against Southampton. Obviously Bournemouth also only have just two days, but the difference is this Bournemouth team is now finally gelling and coming into their own while Arsenal’s lack of depth is starting to rear its ugly head. Having said all that, I still think Arsenal gets back on track. Arsenal win 2-0.
Manchester United vs. Chelsea (12:30 PM Monday)
When the schedule first came out, one of the first reactions was that such a big game would be getting played smack in the middle of the festive period. Little did we know that Chelsea was going to be god-awful this year and that United would tease us with some respectability for a bit, before becoming god-awful themselves. Now this game is big only because it features two big-name clubs. On the field though, this one will be a disaster.
Chelsea are still getting their feet wet with new manager Guus Hiddink, earning a draw with seventh place Watford. As for United, it’s crystal clear that despite Wayne Rooney’s verbal backing of Louis van Gaal, the team appears to have quit on him. United are winless in their last seven games. 2015 is going to be the first year in a long time United don’t win a match in December. Chelsea win 2-0.
Leicester City vs. Manchester City (2:45 PM Tuesday)
Leicester City finally slipped up this weekend in a 1-0 loss to Liverpool, a match they conceded by pulling Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez off early to rest them for this match. Manchester City finally looked like the world beaters they’re capable of being in their 4-1 demolition of Sunderland. Unfortunately for City, there’s a lot more bad than good.
Things were looking good for City when their captain, and the glue of their defense, Vincent Kompany made his return from injury. Those good feelings lasted just nine minutes before Kompany hobbled off the field with another injury. That’s bad for City, and good Leicester who will continue their tremendous run. Leicester win 2-1.
Sunderland vs. Liverpool (2:45 PM Wednesday)
Everyone has been beating up on Sunderland lately and this week it’s Liverpool’s turn. They’re missing a few players on defense with injuries, which caused manager Jurgen Klopp to adopt a more narrow and conservative formation against Leicester to compensate. The move turned out to work and I’d expect Klopp to do the same thing. Lucky for Liverpool, Sunderland are not nearly as good as Leicester. Liverpool win 1-0.
For the second year in a row with the 10 a.m. games, NBCSN is doing their “Breakaway” show, which is their version of NFL RedZone, where they’ll cut away to show bits and pieces of every match, so we’ll cover all them here.
The idea behind “Breakaway” is to try to show fans every goal as it happens. If that’s the case they won’t have to worry much about the West Brom vs. Newcastle match, who will play out a scoreless draw.
Everton just squeaked by Newcastle this weekend and their recent form is starting to get a bit concerning. Stoke have looked great recently against both Manchester clubs, but they put up duds against West Ham and Crystal Palace between those games. If beautiful Stoke show up, this one will be fun, but it ends in a 2-2 draw.
Norwich go from looking great against United to predictably looking inept against Tottenham. Now they get the equally lifeless Aston Villa in what should be another completely forget-able 0-0 draw.
Watford is only three points behind Tottenham in the table going into their big clash on Monday. The bad news for the Hornets is the Spurs have gotten their defense back on track and Harry Kane seems to play his best during the festive period, and Spurs will need him to if they’re going to squeak out that 1-0 win.
Swansea finally got their first win since October this past weekend, but those good feelings will only last so long. Crystal Palace have been playing great football of late and are unbeaten in their past five matches. They slipped up a bit in a draw against Bournemouth, but they’ll get back to their winning ways with a 3-0 victory.
Enjoy the games!