Boxing Day Premiership Fans

Premier League Boxing Day

Ah, Christmas. A happy period for many around the world, full of excitement, food, gift-giving and family togetherness. It’s just a shame we have to get through all of that before we get to the most important occasion of the holiday: football.

That’s right, for any football fan, Christmas is a time to get those predictions in and sit down to watch the resumption of the all-important EPL calendar. This is thanks to the frankly genius decision to resume the second leg of the EPL on Boxing Day, which is just one day after Christmas and has been a UK national holiday since 1871.

The decision to do this took place in 1958 and, whilst it may not have been known then, it would turn out to be a ground-breaking move that would give new life to the EPL season. Today, nearly 25% of Brits tune in to watch the football on Boxing Day, with a further 26 million watching the rest of the season as a whole. 

But why was it decided that Boxing Day was the ultimate day to kick off? What is it about Boxing Day that has given us so many magical football moments, and what teams are set to give us some more this year? All of this is about to be answered, so put on your woolly socks, grab some pigs in blankets, and get ready to learn all there is to know about the Premier League and its special relationship with Boxing Day:

The Premier League Boxing Day 101

  • Premier League Boxing Day came around as a concept in 1958, designed to bump up viewing figures and attendance rates in the Christmas season.
  • It is the official resumption of the EPL season, after a few weeks off to ensure players are not burnt out and clubs can take stock of game-plans.
  • On average, nearly 25% of Brits tune into the football on Boxing Day.
  • Being the official resumption of the season, there have been many moments of magic, making it known as one of the most unique and special days in the EPL calendar. 
  • This year, despite the Qatar World Cup, the Premier League is still set to resume on Boxing Day, with every fixture, stadium and time already decided (more on this below).

The History Of Christmas And Football 

If we’re going to take on the full history of the Premier League on Boxing Day, we may as well start at the very beginning. For those that don’t know, Boxing Day is a concept derived from upper-class Britain during the Queen Victoria era – so called as it was custom to collect together all the leftover boxes from the Christmas gift-giving and return them for goods and services. 

For nearly eighty years, Boxing Day had absolutely no affiliation with football. In fact, for as long as the Football League (which subsequently became the EPL) was playing – since 1888 – the season had historically been carried out on Christmas Day itself. This meant that, as well as all the usual formalities of gift-giving, conversing and generally being merry, many football fans would then have to travel out on the same day in order to watch.

The Move To Premier League Boxing Day

This wasn’t exactly the easiest of tasks, however. For football fans, it was hard enough to convince their partner to abandon their Christmas plans and sit out in the freezing cold to watch a ball being kicked around, let alone actually travel to these stadiums. Transport systems across the country began to decline in the early 1950s, meaning people found it harder to actually get to the games themselves. This meant that the crowds started to dwindle – and no crowds meant no income – so by the 1957-58 season, it was decided that the emphasis on Christmas Day would go back to turkey and the fixtures would move forward to the day after.

Now, with no commitments like Christmas lunch or the King’s Speech to contend with, the football sits snug between the racing and the cricket, allowing fans to easily travel to the stadiums or watch the fixtures from the comfort of their own home.

How The Premier League Works On Boxing Day

In terms of how the games actually pan out, they are decided a little differently compared to the rest of the season. With travel and transport no longer an issue, Boxing Day essentially became known as “Football Day”, with friends and family coming together to watch the games. In this way, the fixture chiefs decided to keep each game as local as possible, in order to keep the attendance rate high and local fans happy.  

Big derbies – such as Manchester Utd vs Manchester City or Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur – are therefore rarely scheduled on Boxing Day, as these are going to have high attendances either way. Instead, the fixtures are balanced out in terms of locality for both home and away fans – if a club is not at home on Boxing Day, then it will be at home on New Year’s Day, so that the Christmas period is maxed-out.

To give you an idea, here are the fixtures for this year and how many miles away-fans will have to travel in order to see their favourite teams kick off the second leg of their season:

  • Brentford vs Tottenham – 17.6 Miles
  • Crystal Palace vs Fulham – 8 Miles
  • Everton vs Fulham – 200 Miles
  • Southampton vs Brighton – 70 Miles
  • Leicester vs Newcastle – 180 Miles
  • Aston Villa vs Liverpool – 78 Miles
  • Arsenal vs West Ham – 5 Miles

If your eyes are watering at fixtures like Everton vs Fulham or Leicester vs Newcastle, then don’t fret. As mentioned previously, with a total of 20 teams in the Premier League, it is almost impossible to organise the calendar so that every game is within a close radius to every fan. For football-lovers that have to travel a long way, their New Year’s Day fixtures will be at home, which will even out the Christmas period and ensure every fan remains happy.

A Fresh Season: The Premier League Boxing Day 22/23

With these fixtures in mind, what exactly is there to look forward to this year? Well, each game is going to offer something different. Brentford vs Tottenham looks to be an interesting fixture, with both teams having drawn 0-0 in their last game together – and Tottenham having won 2-0 in the game before that – so it would seem that they’re pretty evenly balanced. 

Liverpool will also look to get another one up on Aston Villa, having come from behind to move level on points the last time that they met. One of the most tantalising games, however, has to be Arsenal vs West Ham. As of right now, Arsenal are sitting on top of the table, with 12 wins from 14 games. Meanwhile, West Ham are all the way down in sixteenth place, with only 4-from-14. 

As ever with football – especially on Boxing Day – miracles come from the strangest of places. Although West Ham are not having their best season, they still have a number of qualities which make them a difficult team to play against. Their attack has not taken off this season, but if they can keep their defence robust, they do have talent in the back-line to keep Arsenal’s game plan at bay. Either way, this will be a big event for both teams, as Arsenal will look to continue their streak and make a statement at the very beginning of the second leg. 

Premier League Boxing Day: Our Favourite Fixture

Being Christmastime, the Premier League on Boxing Day has given us plenty of magic fixtures over the years. There is something about that day that just elevates every player, every coach and every fan. This can be exemplified by looking back twenty years ago, when Arsenal came to play Coventry City at Highfield Road. 

Wait, Coventry City were in the league?! Yep, they were. It might be hard to believe for a lot of the younger folk out there, but Coventry City were once a solid mainstay in the Premier League. They were pretty good, too. 

In fact, Arsenal came into the Highfield Road match as heavy favourites, not to mention they were in hot pursuit of the prestigious Premier League title. Coventry City performed a stunner, however, getting off to a quick two-goal lead with the help of Gary McAllister and Mustapha Hadij. Although Arsenal rallied in the second half, Robbie Keane put all hopes of a victory to bed with a beautiful, single-booted finish. The score was 3-2 and the football world was shocked.

The Premier League Boxing Day: Other Notable Fixtures

Another great game was Manchester United vs Newcastle United, in 2012. Despite the odds, Newcastle came fast out of the gate and pulled away with a lead. Manchester United fought back, however, and the game from there was full of shocking moments and extraordinary passion. It ended up being won by Javier Hernandez with a stunning 90th-minute finish, finishing off an epic comeback as Manchester United took the game 4-3.

Other notable Boxing Day fixtures include the ridiculous 4-4 draw between Chelsea and Aston Villa in 2007, Arsenal’s 6-1 annihilation of Leicester City in 2000 and Liverpool’s echoing of the Grinch to steal Christmas from Hull City with a 0-3 win in 2013. 

The Premier League Boxing Day: DAZN Bet’s Pop Quiz

 So, there we go, that’s everything you need to know about the most special day of the year. But we’re not done yet. If you’re planning to settle down onto the sofa to watch the games this year, you need a way to explain to your slightly tipsy gran what exactly is going on. 

Of course, the rules of football will come first, but you may need to relay a few other notable facts to keep her invested before she heads back into the kitchen for a leftover turkey sandwich. For this reason, we have conjured up a little question-and-answer quiz to stretch your knowledge and make you the certified Boxing Day-football expert in your household:

Q: Who Is The Best Club This Boxing Day?

A:  Although this question often comes down to fan-favouritism, you can’t argue with the facts. According to the table, Arsenal is technically the best team going into Boxing Day. Many Liverpudlians would argue that their team is the best, however, given their recent victorious history in the Premier League and Champions Cup.

Q: Which Club Is In Trouble This Boxing Day?

A: On the other side of the coin, some clubs could be in trouble. Once again, if we’re to look at the facts, Southampton looks like it will have its work cut out for it. The club is currently sitting at 19th in the table, which means it’s fighting off relegation, so they will need a big day out against Brighton if they have any hopes for the future.

Q: Do Clubs Still Get Points On Boxing Day?

A: Of course. The Boxing Day football is part of the EPL season, so all points still count, and the games have true meaning. They might feel more special for us, but for the players and coaches, this is just another day in their battle to the top.

Q: What Has Been The Biggest Boxing Day Scoreline?

A: If you would allow us to cheat a little, the biggest Boxing Day scoreline happened way back in 1963, when 66 goals were scored in just 10 games. This included Manchester United losing 6-1 to Burnley and Fulham scoring a massive 10 goals against Ipswich! Technically, however, this was the EFL before the Premier League took its place as the top division. But it’s worth a mention, simply for the madness of it all.

Q: Who Are The Players To Look Out For This Boxing Day?

A: There are a number of players to look out for this Boxing Day. For instance, Bukayo Saka – who plays for Arsenal – was named their player of the season last year. Also there’s Danny Ings, who plays for Aston Villa and has scored 5 goals so far this season, and Leandro Trossard, who plays for Brighton and has so far scored 7 goals and provided 2 wonderful assists. Of course, there are many more to look out for, but these are football-Santa’s who have the biggest chance of gifting their fans something special this Christmas.

Our Predictions: The Premier League Boxing Day 23/24 Season

So, what about the future of Boxing Day football? As mentioned before, turnout to the stadiums and viewership at home remains high, so much so that it has almost become a British tradition. Christmas Day: family and food. Boxing Day: food and football, with maybe a sprinkling of family mixed in there somewhere. 

We know who is playing this year and, because of the first leg of the 2022/23 season, we have an inkling of who will be winning those games. But what about 2023/24? Next year is a clean slate, a fresh start for every team, so it’s exciting to think about where we could be when it rolls around.

Assessing previous Boxing Day records gives us an idea of who might shine on the day and who might melt under the extra-spotlight. For instance, Arsenal have played 7 Boxing Day fixtures, yet only won 4. Meanwhile, Brighton have played 7 and won 0 – meaning anyone up against the Seagulls could take the opportunity to catch them out. Chelsea have played 10, won 6. Leicester City have played 11, won 2. Liverpool has played 8, won 5. 

It is fair to predict that – if teams like Liverpool and Chelsea have a fixture next year – they look well in place to knock it out of the park. Other teams’ ratios are not as promising. Brighton notoriously seem to struggle and Leicester City too. Assessing previous EPL records can give us a clue about this, but as ever, it all comes down to what happens on the day, the mentality of the players, and which of them have a little too much turkey the day before. 

Everything counts and the magic of Boxing Day always has a card to play. No-one knows who will be feasting on victory next year and who will be left with the brussels sprouts. But one thing is for sure, it’s going to be a thrill to tune in and find out!