It’s the most wonderful time of year… to be a football fan with quite a lot of time on your hands. Which, thankfully, applies to most people over the Christmas/New Year period. From today until January 3rd, there are only four days without a Premier League match taking place. If all that seems a little like overkill, that’s probably because it is.
But hey-ho (ho ho), let it not be said that Paddy’s anything other than excited at the thought of what the next fortnight holds. As ever, these two weeks are a helter-skelter ride of Quality Street-induced indigestion, bitter intra-familial Monopoly-feuds and, of course, some top-notch Barclays on the box.
So stick on your most horrendous Christmas jumper, crack open a tin of discounted import lager and settle deep into the warm embrace of your couch’s most comfortable arse-groove. This is going to be great.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool go into the Christmas and New Year fixtures top of the table, but arguably face the toughest four games out of the top teams in the league. They kick things off away to Wolves tonight and host Newcastle on Boxing Day, followed by Arsenal on the 29th and Man City on the 3rd.
Based on the Reds’ current form, they’d be disappointed not to win at least three of those games, but things are infamously tricky at this point of the season.
The City fixture is particularly mouth-watering, and is surely the headline clash of the period. By the time the FA Cup Third Round rears its head, we’ll know a lot about whether or not Liverpool are genuinely capable of beating Pep’s boys to the title.
A club going in a very different direction to Liverpool is Manchester United. The Mourinho era has ended and the next few weeks will have a major bearing on whether caretaker-manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the team can pull themselves out of the mire and back into the top four.
Losses during this period are amplified even more than normally. But the saving grace, of course, is the Premier League’s fixture-computer, which has filled United’s stocking with four exceptionally winnable games: Cardiff (a), Huddersfield (h), Bournemouth (h), Newcastle (a).
Looks like United fans have every reason to believe in Santa.