It really is the most wonderful time of the year, and the main reason for that is, of course, the array of festive football treats we can indulge ourselves with over the next few weeks.
While Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp moan about the hectic winter fixture list, we couldn’t care less as it provides us with salvation in the darkness of December. The light at the end of another year.
Without further ado, here are the best games the footballing world has to offer us over the festive period.
Leicester vs Liverpool (26/12/19)
Both of these teams will be desperate for a late Christmas present as the title race continues with another feast for the eyes. Having just lost to Manchester City 3-1, Leicester find themselves ten points off the Reds, while Liverpool have a game in hand, but regardless of who wins, this game could have some serious ramifications for all involved at the top of the table.
Last time out there was plenty of drama. A 93rd-minute James Milner penalty gave Liverpool a crucial 2-1 victory at Anfield, and a similarly dramatic fixture surely awaits on Boxing Day.
Wolves vs Manchester City (27/12/19)
Wolves shocked the Premier League when they travelled to the Etihad in early October, courtesy of Adama Traore. We knew he caused chaos wherever he went, but we didn’t know he could actually finish any of the chances he creates for himself. Well, we do now.
Nuno Espirito Santo will be looking to mastermind another victory over Guardiola, with the Manchester City boss knowing it could well be lights out for his side should they lose. But the Citizens’ win over Leicester offers them hope, as we all await who will slip up next in the title challenge.
Celtic vs Rangers (29/12/19)
The first game of an action-packed British Sunday is the Old Firm Derby. As it stands, we actually have a title race in the Scottish Premiership for a change. Steven Gerrard’s reinvigorated Rangers will be hoping to finally get some bragging rights over their bitter rivals, having lost twice to them this season – including the Scottish League Cup final.
Depending on results before this clash, either side could finish 2019 at the top of the table, a mouthwatering prospect for all those in Glasgow and beyond.
The last time these two sides met was in Baku last May, and on that occasion there was silverware up for grabs. Chelsea powered past a typically lethargic Arsenal to lift the Europa League trophy, condemning their London rivals to another year in Europe’s second-most Elite competition.
Fast forward and things aren’t any better for the Gunners. Now with former player Mikel Arteta at the helm, we all await a much-needed revolution at the Emirates. But, hosting Chelsea in your second game is not an easy task for the Spaniard and Frank Lampard will be looking to conquer the other half of north London having just beaten Tottenham in emphatic style.
Liverpool vs Wolves (29/12/19)
Next Sunday is going to be cracking, isn’t it? The table could look a little different by the time this one rolls around, but Liverpool will still be on top spot, and looking to fend off the chasing pack. The newly-crowned ‘world champions’ will be excited to resume their Premier League campaign, with all at Anfield eagerly anticipating a first title.
But this could be a potential banana skin. Wolves have a terrific record against the so-called ‘big six’ and knocked a makeshift Liverpool out of the FA Cup last season. Having said that, the Reds won both league meetings 2-0, but it seems likely it will be a competitive clash between two free-flowing front lines.
Arsenal vs Manchester United (01/01/20)
One of the first games of 2020 is a clash we may have enjoyed a hell of a lot more in the late 90’s or early 2000’s, but hey ho. If we ignore the 1-1 draw earlier in the season, which was about as interesting as clipping your nails, we should hopefully see a different contest between the pair.
Two teams that struggle defensively, but have plenty of pace and power on the counter-attack, means it’s highly unlikely to be a bore draw this time around. Not a bad way to welcome in the new year…
West Brom vs Leeds (01/01/20)
Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about the Championship. The current top two will continue their joust for promotion back to the big time on New Year’s Day, while West Brom will also be seeking revenge for their 1-0 defeat to Leeds in October.
Both sides currently seem set for automatic promotion, but a lot can change very quickly in England’s second tier, so take nothing for granted. Both sides are head and shoulders above the rest of the league, so it truly will be a clash of titans to start 2020 with a bang.
While this affair doesn’t quite have the swagger of the El Clasico, it is fought with similar vigour and zest from both sides. This will be the first Catalan Derby of the campaign, with Barcelona having won both meetings convincingly last year.
With Espanyol fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table, and Barcelona battling Real Madrid for La Liga’s crown, the consequences of defeat could be pretty severe for both teams.
Liverpool vs Everton (05/01/20)
The magic of the FA Cup certainly won’t be dead in this clash. The second Merseyside Derby of the season is unlikely to be similar to the first, which saw Everton thoroughly beaten 5-2 and led to the dismissal of Marco Silva. With Carlo Ancelotti now in charge, who knows what state the Toffees will be in by this stage.
Meanwhile, Klopp will most likely use this as another opportunity to play the kids, but there are always bragging rights at stake no matter the context.
Napoli vs Inter (06/01/20)
Ancelotti’s old club Napoli will be hoping for a good start to the new year when they take on table-toppers Inter. The first game back after a small winter break, Gennaro Gattuso will be hoping to build on his side’s recent 2-1 victory over Sassuolo, but it sure won’t be easy.
Inter are in terrific form and continue to blow away their opposition under Antonio Conte. With the Serie A title likely to go to the wire, the Nerazzurri will be aiming to keep Juventus at bay, with both sides currently level on 42 points. Who will blink first?