The dust may have just settled on the World Cup, but the EPL will resume normal service over the festive period. There are a plethora of games to look forward to on Boxing Day, and there could well be a glut of goals that follow. Boxing Day 1963 remains the highest-scoring round of games for England’s top-flight on that day, with 66 netted across 10 matches.
Whereas last year, 28 goals were rattled home across six matches at an average of 4.6 per game which was still impressive by all accounts. With the season fast approaching the halfway mark, there will be some key questions asked of the teams at the top and bottom ends of the table. And to get you in the mood for the return of the EPL, we have revisited six classics down the years that made for irresistible viewing.
Sheffield Wednesday 3-3 Manchester United (1992)
The inaugural season of the Premier League had a bumper-packed festive program, and Manchester United’s thrilling draw with Sheffield Wednesday will always evoke plenty of memories. What was even more remarkable was that United grabbed a point and they defied the odds with their stunning comeback.
The Owls were 2-0 up inside just six minutes through David Hirst and Mark Bright, and just after the hour mark, Wednesday looked to have been out of sight when John Sheridan burst through the United defense to further extend their lead. But United under Sir Alex Ferguson, never really knew when they were beaten. Brian McClair pulled one back from a Lee Sharpe cross five minutes after Sheridan’s strike. Then, the arrears were further reduced when McClair turned home from a Sharpe cross, and Eric Cantona prodded to claim an unlikely tie. United would go on to win their first league title in 26 years, so this tie was a huge turning point in their campaign.
Chelsea 4-4 Aston Villa (2007)
Christmas is a time of giving and Chelsea and Aston Villa were only too happy to distribute the gifts in a spellbinding game at Stamford Bridge. It was a right humdinger of a match from the moment Shaun Maloney fired the visitors ahead in the 14th minute.
Villa’s problems mounted when they were reduced to 10 men when Zat Knight felled Michael Ballack in the box. And while Alex thought he completed a dramatic turnaround, there was more madness in the last few minutes, and Villa escaped west London with a point when Gareth Barry tucked home a last-gasp penalty.
Arsenal 6-1 Leicester (2000)
Ok, we admit, this was one of the more one-sided games that feature on this carefully curated list, but this is one of those matches where Arsenal purred and they were ruthless. Thierry Henry was the chief destroyer as he grabbed his maiden hat-trick for the Gunners, and even Tony Adams got on the scoresheet when he slid home to connect with Henry’s cross.
Yet despite this hammering, Arsenal slipped off the pace in the EPL, and they finished 10 points behind the champions Manchester United.
Manchester United 4-3 Newcastle (2012)
Who doesn’t love a seven-goal thriller? Old Trafford was the place to be on Boxing Day in 2012.The Red Devils were rather sluggish and lethargic, and they found themselves trailing after just four minutes when James Perch pounced on a David de Gea error to slot home.
It was back and forth and Robin van Persie equalized for the hosts for the third time with a cleverly taken strike in the box. But Javier Hernandez was the hero deep inside stoppage time of the second half when he put away Michael Carrick’s teasing cross. This would be Ferguson’s last ever Boxing Day encounter, but he signed off in style later that season when he guided United to their 20th league triumph before stepping down.
Tottenham 5-2 Southampton (2017)
It may not have been a white Christmas in north London that year, but Tottenham were in no mood to show any acts of kindness to Southampton. And Mauricio Pochettino dished out a thrashing to his former club Southampton as Tottenham romped to victory.
For Harry Kane, it was an unforgettable day as he walked home with the match ball after scoring a hat-trick, and it was his 37th goal of the calendar year. Fraser Forster spent much of the game fishing the ball out of the net for the Saints, but now he’s warming up the bench for Spurs these days. How times have changed!
Manchester City 6-3 Leicester (2021)
Rewind 12 months and Manchester City and Leicester broke the record for the most number of goals in a Boxing Day game since 1992. And this game could only be described as a rollercoaster. City don’t always do things the easiest way, but they looked to be cruising to victory when they raced into a 4-0 lead inside the opening half hour of the game thanks to goals from Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, Ilkay Gundogan, and Raheem Sterling.
However, the Foxes failed to read the script. Within 10 minutes of the restart, they hit back with three goals. But the reigning EPL champions at the time regained their composure with further goals from Aymeric Laporte and a second strike from Sterling to seal their ninth league win on the trot. It was truly incredible scenes!