Chelsea remain in first place after Boxing Day matches
On Boxing Day there were 30,000 Leicester City fans wearing Jamie Vardy face masks at King Power Stadium to protest the England international's three-match suspension, but without Vardy the current EPL champions lost 0-2 to Everton. Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United all played their Boxing Day fixtures at home and won their respective battles. West Ham won away against the Swans. Burnley won away as well. Watford drew 1-1 with Crystal Palace in Sam Allardyce's first game in charge in his new job as manager. Buy Chelsea v Stoke tickets now to enjoy EPL top contender Chelsea play on New Year’s Eve!
On Tuesday, the day after Boxing Day, Liverpool easily won their battle against Stoke. Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp noticed that Pep Guardiola was amongst the fans watching the match reportedly to scout the Reds ahead of the New Year’s Eve clash between the two arch-rivals and contenders for the Premier League title this campaign. Klopp claimed that Pep Guardiola’s Anfield scouting mission to watch Liverpool last night demonstrated just how seriously Pep views Liverpool as title rivals. Klopp expects a great New Year’s Eve match against Manchester City when Guardiola returns to Anfield with his side to take on his Reds. To date, Guardiola’s Man City side are only one point behind Liverpool on the EPL Table.
“It is a big game for both teams, and nothing I can say about it can help me, but I could make things more difficult for us so it is best I say nothing,” said Klopp. “I heard Pep Guardiola was here and I am not sure he has watched a lot of games in the last few weeks in other stadiums. I respect them a lot but I was not in their stadium this season or last season except to play games. Maybe he only wants to watch good football. It will be difficult for both teams and exciting. I am really looking forward to the match as they are an outstanding good side and we are not too bad. It will be a nice game. Confidence is not a problem for us. We know about our quality even if we don’t show it all the time. But the start of the game was really difficult for us.”
“They pressed really high and we were not patient in our game. A lot of things we could have done better but we forced two goals with our quality which was really important,” added Klopp. “We scored a wonderful third goal, then Daniel Sturridge closed the game.” Roberto Firmino, who was charged with drunk-driving after being arrested in Liverpool City Centre on Christmas Eve, scored a goal for his side. The Brazil international will have to appear at Liverpool Magistrates Court on January 31, the same day Liverpool play Manchester City at Anfield. “He was the best man in training so there was no chance to leave him out. No chance,” said Klopp. “He was outstanding.”
Meanwhile thirty-five year old Swedish Manchester United celebrity star Zlatan Ibrahimovic needs two goals against Middlesbrough on Saturday to beat Lionel Messi’s current goal count and become European football’s goal king of 2016. To date Ibra is one short of Messi, two ahead of his Barca team-mate Luis Suarez, and eight ahead of Real Madrid and former Manchester United superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, the 2016 Ballon D’Or winner. Since Spain La Liga is already on winter break, Messi, Suarez, and Ronaldo will not play this weekend, but Ibrahimovic has one more game left with United facing Middlesbrough at Old Trafford on Saturday, New Year’s Eve. Ibra is on a hot-streak of 11 goals in his last 10 games.
Man United’s Phil Jones remarked that Ibrahimovic has given Jose Mourinho’s side goals and a focal point to their attacks. “He’s a handful,” said Jones. “He’s a big, strong man and he knows where the back of the net is. He has great feet and his link up play, the way he brings others into play, is superb. He gives you that outlet when you are under pressure. Obviously we don’t want to keep knocking the ball long in games but if you have to, then he’s always there to receive it and he makes life very difficult for defenders. He’s a big focal point for our team.”
Ibrahimovic’s 50 goals in 2016 include the 33 he struck for former club Paris St Germain from January through May 21, plus the 17 he has scored for United, the first coming in the Community Shield in August. “I love the way Zlatan plays. He’s great for the team and I hope he stays in good form,” said teammate Daley Blind. “His performance doesn’t show how old he is. He’s doing some incredible stuff and I’m very happy for him because he deserves it. He’s a very big player and everyone knows him. I don’t have to say it because everyone knows he’s a fantastic player,” said Mkhitaryan.
“A player of his stature and quality is a great addition to the Premier League. He is a great example to young players,” said Premier League’s all-time record scorer Alan Shearer. Do not miss the chance to watch Zlatan Ibrahimovic play live in the Premier League. Buy Manchester United tickets for New Year’s Eve and upcoming 2017 fixtures! The following are the Boxing Day scores and squads:
CHELSEA 3-0 BOURNEMOUTH
Chelsea goals: Pedro 2, Hazard
Courtois, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill, Moses, Fabregas, Matic, Alonso, Willian, Pedro, Hazard. Subs: Begovic, Ivanovic, Zouma, Loftus-Cheek, Batshuayi, Chalobah, Aina.
Boruc, Francis, Steve Cook, Brad Smith, Daniels, Arter, Gosling, Adam Smith, Wilshere, Surman, King. Subs: Afobe, Callum Wilson, Stanislas, Federici, Fraser, Mings, Ibe.
Referee: Mike Jones
ARSENAL 1-0 WEST BROM ALBION
Arsenal goal: Giroud
Cech, Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Gibbs, Coquelin, Xhaka, Sanchez, Ozil, Iwobi, Giroud. Subs: Ramsey, Lucas Perez, Ospina, Holding, Monreal, Reine-Adelaide, Elneny.
Foster, Dawson, McAuley, Evans, Nyom, Yacob, Fletcher, Phillips, Chadli, Brunt, Rondon. Subs: Olsson, Robson-Kanu, Morrison, Gardner, Myhill, McClean, Galloway.
MANCHESTER UNITED 3-1 SUNDERLAND
Man Utd goals: Blind, Ibrahimovic, Mkhitaryan
Sunderland goal: Borini
De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Blind, Carrick, Herrera, Pogba, Mata, Lingard, Ibrahimovic. Subs: Romero, Darmian, Smalling, Fellaini, Mkhitaryan, Martial.
Pickford, Jones, Van Aanholt, Djilobodji, Kone, Denayer, Ndong, Borini, Larsson, Anichebe, Defoe. Subs: Mannone, Love, Asoro, O'Shea, Khazri, Embleton, Honeyman.
LEICESTER 0-2 EVERTON
Everton goals: Mirallas, Lukaku
Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Wasilewski, Chilwell, Gray, King, Amartey, Albrighton, Slimani, Okazaki. Subs: Hernandez, Drinkwater, Musa, Zieler, Ulloa, Mendy, Mahrez.
Robles, Holgate, Ashley Williams, Funes Mori, Coleman, Gana, Barry, Baines, Lennon, Mirallas, Lukaku. Subs: Jagielka, Deulofeu, Barkley, Cleverley, Valencia, Davies, Hewelt.
SWANSEA CITY 1-4 WEST HAM
Swans goal: Llorente
West Ham goals: Ayew, Reid, Antonio, Carroll
Fabianski, Rangel, Mawson, van der Hoorn, Kingsley, Cork, Britton, Routledge, Sigurdsson, Fulton, Borja Baston. Subs: Fer, Llorente, Dyer, Nordfeldt, Montero, Naughton, Fernandez.
Randolph, Kouyate, Reid, Ogbonna, Antonio, Noble, Nordtveit, Cresswell, Payet, Carroll, Ayew. Subs: Feghouli, Adrian, Fletcher, Fernandes, Quina, Pike, Rice.
BURNLEY 1-0 MIDDLESBROUGH
Burnley goal: Gray
Heaton, Flanagan, Mee, Keane, Ward, Arfield, Marney, Hendrick, Boyd, Gray, Barnes. Subs: Vokes, Kightly, Defour, Robinson, Gudmundsson, Tarkowski, Darikwa.
Valdes, Barragan, Chambers, Gibson, Da Silva, Forshaw, Clayton, de Roon, Stuani, Negredo, Ramirez. Subs: Friend, Bernardo, Leadbitter, Rhodes, Guzan, Downing, Traore.