Boxing Day Classics From the Premier League

Arsenal legend Thierry Henry

Boxing Day is always one of the most iconic days in the English football calendar and the Premier League has thrown up plenty of festive classics over the years.

The tradition of playing football on Boxing Day is a staple of the festive programme and while supporters up and down the country are recovering from perhaps overindulging on Christmas Day, players and managers are focused on delivering plenty of entertainment.

While the modern-day era may not throw up as many classics as Boxing Days gone by – in 1963 there were a staggering 66 goals scored across the 10 top-flight games played – there has still been many a memorable match played in the Premier League on December 26th.

5. Manchester City 5-1 Hull City – 2008

Hull City’s first season in the Premier League had started brilliantly and they were riding high in the top six when they visited a Manchester City side on Boxing Day that were languishing in the relegation zone.

However, the hosts ripped up the form book during the first half, with a brace apiece from Felipe Caicedo and Robinho putting them 4-0 up at the break.

Such was the disappointing nature of his side’s first-half display, Hull boss Phil Brown did his half-time team talk on the pitch, lambasting his players in front of their travelling support.

Brown’s words did have an effect – Hull drew the second half 1-1 – but that ultimately started a spiral that saw the Tigers slip down the standings and they only preserved their top-flight status on the final day of the season.

4. Arsenal 6-1 Leicester City – 2000

Arsenal were in midst of a title battle with Manchester United – as they always seemed to be at the turn of the century – when they put a struggling Leicester to the sword on Boxing Day 2000.

The game is best remembered for the exploits a certain Thierry Henry, who scored his first Premier League hat-trick on his 50th appearance in the competition for Arsenal.

Patrick Vieira, Freddie Ljungberg and Tony Adams were also on the scoresheet for Arsene Wenger’s side, but they ultimately came up short in the title race to United, while Leicester finished 13th before getting relegated the following season.

3. Bournemouth 3-3 West Ham United – 2017

There was a Christmas cracker at the Vitality Stadium on Boxing Day 2017, with Bournemouth and West Ham sharing six goals in a match that both sides will feel they should have won.

The Hammers led early through James Collins, but Dan Gosling and Nathan Ake quickly struck to turn things around for Bournemouth, who still led heading into the final 10 minutes of the match.

Marko Arnautovic then took centre stage for the visitors, pouncing on a mistake from Bournemouth goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to level before seemingly grabbing an 89th-minute winner.

However, the Cherries had other ideas, with Callum Wilson notching a controversial injury-time equaliser – the England international was not only offside, but he also put the ball in the back of the net with his hand, but the referee overruled his assistant and allowing the goal to stand.

2. Manchester United 4-3 Newcastle United – 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson’s final Boxing Day match in charge of Manchester United was one to remember, as not only did they edge a seven-goal thriller at Old Trafford against Newcastle, but they did so by coming from behind three times.

James Perch, a Jonny Evans own goal and Papiss Cisse had Newcastle in front on three separate occasions, but Evans, Patrice Evra and Robin van Persie restored parity for the hosts before Javier Hernandez struck a last-minute winner.

That victory kickstarted an exceptional final few months in the job for Ferguson, who ended his 27 years in charge of the Red Devils by lifting a 13th Premier League title.

1. Chelsea 4-4 Aston Villa – 2007

The highest scoring Premier League match ever to be contested on Boxing Day took place in 2007 when Chelsea and Aston Villa played out an eight-goal thriller.

A Shaun Maloney brace raced Villa into a surprise 2-0 lead early on, but Chelsea responded with their own two-goal hero in Andriy Shevchenko before the Ukrainian then set up Alex to put Chelsea in front for the first time.

Martin Laursen quickly drew Villa level, but Chelsea, then under the management of Avram Grant, looked like they had nicked the three points thanks to a Michael Ballack free kick with two minutes of the 90 remaining.

Villa had other ideas, however, and when Ashley Cole was adjudged to have handled in the area, Gareth Barry was able to snatch a deserve share of the spoils for the visitors, who ended the campaign in the dizzy heights of sixth.

A fountain of knowledge on football, Tom offers a particular in-depth expertise in EFL and European leagues.
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