Even if the coronavirus pandemic has pretty much turned everything upside down in the past few months, it could at least not harm one Christmas football tradition: The English Premier League is rushing its kickers through the holidays again this time. From December 26th to January 4th, with the exception of New Year’s Eve, three complete rounds (all 30 matches live on Sky) take place during this time.
While all major leagues are dormant, the island is traditionally busy. That brings high ratings and, as a result, lucrative television contracts, but also angry trainers. Star coaches such as Pep Guardiola (Manchester City), Jürgen Klopp (Liverpool) or Jose Mourinho (Tottenham) regularly and unsuccessfully complain about the enormous burdens on their protégés.
The show goes on, despite tired kickers and a lack of stadium spectators. On Stephanitag (1.30 p.m. CET) the starting gun will be given with the game of the second Leicester City with ex-ÖFB team captain Christian Fuchs against the third Manchester United. According to the current table status, this test of strength is also the biggest hit of the next few days. There are celebrity duels at Arsenal – Chelsea (Saturday) and Chelsea – Manchester City (January 3rd), but these three clubs are not currently in the top four.
Defending champion Liverpool will host West Bromwich on Sunday, followed by away matches against Newcastle (December 30th) and Ralph Hasenhüttls Southampton (January 4th). Three points behind, Leicester will play away against Crystal Palace (December 28th) and Newcastle (January 3rd) after meeting ManUnited. For the “Red Devils” from Manchester, who are only two points behind Liverpool, after the Leicester match at Old Trafford against Wolverhampton (December 29th) and Aston Villa (January 1st).
Apart from the fight for the top position, the focus of the upcoming rounds is on a club that has been chasing its own expectations for a long time. Arsenal is as table-14. only four points away from the first relegation zone. Should the crisis in the duels with Chelsea, Brighton (December 29th / away) and West Bromwich (January 2nd / away) be prolonged, coach Mikel Arteta should be seriously worried about his job.
In contrast, Hasenhüttl sits firmly in the saddle near Southampton. Under the Styrian, the “Saints” played a sensational autumn season, currently the seventh place in the table is only three points behind. Southampton’s opponents are away to Fulham on Saturday and West Ham at home on December 29th, before they face Liverpool again on January 4th at their own stadium.
After a little slack in October, the “Reds” presented themselves in impressive form and have long been considered the number one title candidate again. In the last nine rounds, there were six wins and three draws, and on Saturday they defeated Crystal Palace 7-0.