Boxing Day Premier League football: Six things to look out for

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The jam-packed festive football season is upon us. 

The Premier League is ploughing on amid a rise in Covid cases and even though Liverpool, Leeds, Watford, Everton, Burnley and Wolves now won’t feature, it promises to be a thrilling Boxing Day.

Manchester United and Newcastle have an extra day before returning to action but all the other top-flight teams clubs will take to the field to give fans seven hours of wall-to-wall football.

Here, Sportsmail picks out the things to look out for in Sunday’s football bonanza. 

Football fans are in for a treat, with six Premier League matches happening on Boxing Day

Football fans are in for a treat, with six Premier League matches happening on Boxing Day

1. Spurs will want revenge against an old foe

Patrick Vieira faced his old rivals Tottenham for the first time since his Arsenal days in September and what a reunion it was for the former midfielder.

He guided his Crystal Palace side to a resounding 3-0 victory over Spurs in what was a torrid display by Nuno Espirito Santo’s side. 

Vieira proved to be a thorn in Spurs’ side for years and silenced them once more in the Selhurst Park encounter.

Tottenham will want revenge and they are an entirely different proposition under Antonio Conte, compared to the team that was turned over three months ago.

They put in an excellent performance against Liverpool last week and reached the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup in midweek. 

Patrick Vieira comes up against old rivals Tottenham when Crystal Palace visit north London

Patrick Vieira comes up against old rivals Tottenham when Crystal Palace visit north London

2. Arsenal can cement a top four spot

The Gunners are gathering momentum as their youngsters continue to step up and shoulder the responsibility under Mikel Arteta.

Their abysmal start seems a distant memory as they’ve found form and moved up into fourth position.

They’ve registered three league wins on the bounce and they can cement their place in the Champions League spots against relegation-threatened Norwich.

Arteta’s side are currently four points ahead of West Ham – although they have a game in hand – and six points off third-placed Chelsea.

The young boss isn’t afraid to make bold calls, indicated by his decision to take the captaincy from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and his methods finally seem to be bearing fruit on the pitch. 

The Gunners are gathering momentum as their youngsters continue to step up this season

3. Can Leicester halt the City juggernaut?

Manchester City are in scintillating form and the most obvious question is: can anyone stop them from lifting the Premier League title?

On their day Brendan Rodgers’ side have the ability to stop them in their tracks, as they showed in their 5-2 victory last season. 

However the Foxes aren’t replicating that form this campaign, so it would be a huge shock if they were to take anything away from the Etihad.

Jamie Vardy, who scored a hat-trick in their emphatic win last year, returned to goalscoring form at Anfield in midweek, which was a welcome boost.

They will be looking to respond to their Carabao Cup heartbreak by stunning the league leaders. What an upset would do for them and City’s title rivals. 

Manchester City are in scintillating form and the question is whether anyone can stop them

Manchester City are in scintillating form and the question is whether anyone can stop them

Jamie Vardy scored a hat-trick as Leicester thrashed City 5-2 at the Etihad last season

Jamie Vardy scored a hat-trick as Leicester thrashed City 5-2 at the Etihad last season 

4. Chelsea need to return to winning ways

Chelsea’s injury and Covid crisis has been well-documented and their results have taken a hit as a result.

The Blues have never gone winless in three league games during Thomas Tuchel’s tenure but they’re on course to do just that if they do not beat Aston Villa in the early evening kick-off.

After sealing a narrow 3-2 victory over Leeds, both Everton and Wolves took a point apiece off them.

Tuchel was furious at the Premier League’s decision to reject their approach to postpone the clash at Molineux after recording seven positive Covid cases.  

However, he should receive positive news in time for Steven Gerrard’s visit as some of his stars are available again for selection. 

Chelsea have never recorded three winless league games during Thomas Tuchel’s tenure

5. Michail Antonio can regain his form

The West Ham forward kickstarted the season in blistering fashion, notching six goals in as many matches.

But the 31-year-old has not found the back of the net for his club since scoring the winner at home to Tottenham on October 24.

Southampton are the perfect opponents for Antonio to rediscover his touch in front of goal, with the Hammers boasting an excellent record against Sunday’s rivals. 

They’re unbeaten in their previous eight top-flight encounters and the London club have recorded more victories and won more at home against the Saints than any other Premier League team. 

And although his availability is uncertain after registering a positive Covid test last week, Antonio has the ideal opportunity to regain his form if cleared fit to play.

West Ham forward Michail Antonio has not found the back of the net for two months

West Ham forward Michail Antonio has not found the back of the net for two months

6. Harry Kane’s on fire at this time 

Tottenham talisman Harry Kane enjoys this time of year. 

The England captain has netted in all five of his Premier League outings on Boxing Day and scored eight on the date in total.

That tally means he is just one short of Robbie Fowler’s top-flight record and after finally returning to the scoresheet last week, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him add to his haul.

Kane has been below par during the first half of the season but his fine finish to put Tottenham ahead against Liverpool signalled he’s not far away from his best.

The striker was kept quiet at Selhurst Park in the reverse fixture but Crystal Palace will have their work cut out to repeat that this time around.  

Spurs striker Harry Kane has netted in all five of his Premier League outings on Boxing Day

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