With all of the world’s other major leagues enjoying time off during the holiday season, all attention turns toward the Premier League. The day after Christmas sees one of English football’s most beloved traditions, when all 20 teams will be in action on Boxing Day. It will be the first of three matches in less than a week for the league’s clubs, meaning it can be a crucial period, either in building momentum or getting entangled in a perilous downward spiral.
Here’s how the Boxing Day fixtures could shape up, along with all the kickoff times, TV channels and live stream info needed to plan your viewing schedule.
Chelsea vs. West Ham (7.45 a.m. EST, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra)
This fixture finished scoreless last season, after which Jose Mourinho derided West Ham for playing “19th century football.” Sam Allardyce’s men now have more attacking variety and are riding high in fourth place, yet he may go back to basics at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea, though, now have far greater weapons going forward themselves and it should be enough to break the visitors’ resistance.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-0 West Ham
Burnley vs. Liverpool (10 a.m., Premier League Extra Time, NBC Sports Live Extra)
After a terrible start to life in the top flight, Burnley have picked up of late, helped by the goals of Danny Ings and Ashley Barnes. But Liverpool, despite the results still not being great, have also made strides. They continue to struggle in both penalty boxes, but the rediscovery of some attacking pace and movement could earn them a much needed win here.
Prediction: Burnley 1-2 Liverpool
Crystal Palace vs. Southampton (10 a.m., Premier League Extra Time, NBC Sports Live Extra)
Crystal Palace may be difficult to beat, but they are now without a win in five matches and are only separated from the Premier League relegation zone by goal difference. Conversely, Southampton snapped their five-match losing streak with an impressive 3-0 win over Everton last time out and will welcome key midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin back for what is set to be a low-scoring Boxing Day encounter.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 0-1 Southampton
Everton vs. Stoke (10 a.m., Premier League Extra Time, NBC Sports Live Extra)
After such an impressive first season in charge, Roberto Martinez’s second campaign at Goodison Park has yet to really get going. While they haven’t been playing particularly badly, Stoke’s results have not exactly been great of late either -- losing four of their last six matches. In a tightly fought contest, it may well be Everton’s extra two days rest and their greater individual ability in attack that gets them the win.
Prediction: Everton 2-1 Stoke
Leicester vs. Tottenham (10 a.m., Premier League Extra Time, NBC Sports Live Extra)
Still without a win since that memorable comeback against Manchester United in September, Leicester have now lost nine of their last 10 matches and are in danger of being cast adrift at the bottom of the table. Goals remain the major problem, with Nigel Pearson’s team failing to score in seven of those 10 fixtures. Tottenham, meanwhile, are starting to find some consistency and should make it four straight wins when they visit the King Power Stadium.
Prediction: Leicester 0-2 Tottenham
Manchester United vs. Newcastle United (10 a.m., NBCSN, NBC Sports Live Extra)
Manchester United’s six game winning streak was snapped at Aston Villa, with Louis van Gaal’s men unable to build any attacking momentum through their midfield. With none of the injured played due back, key man Michael Carrick will remain needed in both defense and midfield. Yet while United may not be exactly fluid, they should still have enough to edge a Newcastle side that has looked curiously lackluster in a run of three straight defeats.
Prediction: Manchester United 1-0 Newcastle United
Sunderland vs. Hull (10 a.m., Premier League Extra Time, NBC Sports Live Extra)
Things are going from bad to worse for Hull boss Steve Bruce. His side are now 10 matches without a win, while he has banished enigmatic French midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa and now the club’s longest-standing player, Paul McShane. A trip to Sunderland may have promised an opportunity to get a much-needed positive result, but Gus Poyet’s draw specialists will now surely be on a high following a 1-0 derby victory at rivals Newcastle at the weekend.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-0 Hull
Swansea vs. Aston Villa (10 a.m., Premier League Extra Time, NBC Sports Live Extra)
Not much has changed for Villa under Paul Lambert. They continue to look a solid counter-attacking team against better opposition, as in a draw with Manchester United last time out, but are woefully devoid of creativity when required to take the initiative. Their style could be enough to frustrate Swansea, especially if the Welsh side do not have attacking duo Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jefferson Montero available.
Prediction: Swansea 1-1 Aston Villa
West Bromwich Albion vs. Manchester City (10 a.m., Premier League Extra Time, NBC Sports Live Extra)
Manchester City coped admirably without a striker last week against Crystal Palace and a fairly kind run of fixtures over the festive period means that could continue to be the case. Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic remain unavailable for the trip to the Hawthorns, but with momentum behind them and David Silva in fine form they are likely to have far too much for a limited West Brom side.
Prediction: West Brom 0-2 Manchester City
Arsenal vs. Queens Park Rangers (12.30 p.m., NBCSN, NBC Sports Live Extra)
Regular Arsenal watchers won’t be in any way surprised by what the team has produced in the past few weeks. Arsene Wenger’s outfit looked great and won comfortably against Galatasaray and Newcastle sides that lacked intensity, but then shrunk in the face of the pressure applied by Stoke City and Liverpool. It’s good news for Arsenal then that on Boxing Day they’ll encounter a QPR team that has capitulated on the road this season, losing all eight Premier League matches.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-1 QPR