Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Best Premier League Matches Of The Festive Season

For football fans, one of the best things about the holiday season is that matches continue without interruption in the major European leagues. This means we can all spend some of our time away from work taking in the matches and getting a nice look at how the teams look heading into 2015 and soon the second half of the league campaigns. So with that in mind, here's a glance at some of the top Premier League fixtures to keep your eye on this festive period.

Aston Villa v. Manchester United (December 20)

Much has been made of Man Utd.'s recent hot streak, which has propelled them all the way up to third place in the league tables. Following the club's recent 3-0 dismantling of Liverpool at Old Trafford, the Daily Mail even went so far as to declare the EPL a three-horse title race (with many still assuming it'll come down to Chelsea and Manchester City). But Aston Villa can be a tricky club when playing at home, so this is an interesting match to watch. If there's a game that could trip up Man Utd. before 2015, this is probably it.

Liverpool v. Arsenal (December 21)

Liverpool is having a disastrous go of it thus far, and the aforementioned 3-0 loss at Man Utd. didn't help matters. Now, a December 21 fixture in which the club hosts Arsenal is beginning to resemble a make-or-break contest. Bet Fair analyst Luke Moore wrote about Liverpool's outlook standing as one of the EPL stories to watch in the coming weeks. He even went so far as to suggest that Brendan Rodgers may be coaching for his job. Meanwhile, Arsenal is hoping to gain some momentum.

Chelsea v. West Ham (December 26)

Chelsea will likely go into this match as the strong favourite, and justifiably so. But a cross-town rivalry in London yields no sure results, and West Ham has been stronger than most anyone anticipated this season. This should be one of the most intriguing fixtures of the season.

Manchester United v. Newcastle (December 26)

As mentioned, Man Utd. has come on strong of late, but Newcastle has had a fairly impressive campaign as well. Its claim to fame is becoming the first club to beat Chelsea in a league match this season, as Newcastle won their Week 15 contest 2-1. But Newcastle then followed up that result by taking a 4-1 clobbering from Arsenal. Man Utd. will be favoured, but it shouldn't overlook a Newcastle squad that's trying to get back on track.

Southampton v. Chelsea (December 28)

There aren't many fixtures that one can point at and label as a chance that Chelsea may lose, but this is one of them. The Atlantic posted an interesting piece at the beginning of December that gives sound reasoning for Southampton's improbably hot start to likely meet an end—and they're probably right. But this has nevertheless been one of the EPL's most impressive teams thus far, and one never knows what may come up with hosting Chelsea in December.

West Ham v. Arsenal (December 28)

If Arsenal can handle Liverpool in the previously highlighted match, it will have generated some very positive momentum heading toward the second half of the season, with a top-four finish in its sights. West Ham will then become a very intriguing obstacle, and as noted when discussing the Chelsea v. West Ham fixture on December 26, cross-London rivalries make for extra intrigue. This will also be a great opportunity for Arsenal, in that West Ham will only have one day of rest between the matches.

Any EPL match holds the potential to entertain, but if you're looking for a few fixtures to highlight for holiday season viewing, these look to be the best of the bunch!