Premier League, Week 19: Boxing Day Football Schedule Is Average, But You'll Watch Anyway

On Christmas, you get to unwrap all of your presents. On Boxing Day, you get to return the crap you didn't like and watch some football!

Boxing Day football is a tradition in the English Premier League, and it's an awesome one. I don't care how long or of and on of a thing it's been, because the Premier League started 20 years ago so we can call a "tradition" whatever we want. The Premier League, as if they hired Dana White and Joe Silva away from the UFC, has made a wonderful business decision. All of the games on Boxing Day are mediocre. The reason? You're going to watch anyway! They need to save the huge matches for times when they're not certain to draw you in. The next time two of the Sky Six meet each other is January 3.

Chelsea vs. Fulham

Dec. 26, 8:00 a.m. ET, 1:00 p.m. local

Thing I'll never figure out: How this never developed into a proper derby with proper hatred. This was threatened by the London tube strike, but unlike the Arsenal match (which we'll get to later), this one will go forward. Sucks for Fulham, they could have used a day off after their thrashing at the hands of Manchester United. Chelsea have had an up and down year, but they're still worlds better than the Cottagers.

Bolton Wanderers vs. Newcastle United

Dec. 26, 10:00 a.m. ET, 3:00 p.m. local

With a win over Blackburn at Ewood Park, Owen Coyle likely saved his job for at least a couple more weeks. If he's able to defeat Newcastle United, he'll probably have a job until he either gets relegated or suffers awful results with Stuart Holden and Lee Chung-Yong healthy. By the way, if things go according to plan, it's possible that both could be 90 minutes fit again sometime in February. This would be nice, because Bolton played football last year and now they don't. I would like them to get back to playing football.

(Newcastle should still win)

Liverpool vs. Blackburn Rovers

Dec. 26, 10:00 a.m. ET, 3:00 p.m. local

Aww, poor Steve Kean. He's going to get heckled by the six Blackburn fans at Anfield, then Venky's is going to continue to not fire him.

Manchester United vs. Wigan Athletic

Dec. 26, 10:00 a.m. ET, 3:00 p.m. local

Wigan have pulled off two consecutive draws against members of the Sky Six. I'd like to think they could make it three in a row, but this is the time of year when Manchester United start hitting their best form. Basically, every fall we wonder if this is the year that United are no longer title contenders, and then in January we wonder why we ever doubted them. Like clockwork, year after year.

Sunderland vs. Everton

Dec. 26, 10:00 a.m. ET, 3:00 p.m. local

I have this sneaking suspiscion that, despite their sometimes infuriating results and their owner who doesn't have any money, Everton is still the seventh best team in the Premier League. How does this happen? Someone get David Moyes a medal. Sunderland are looking better under Martin O'Neill, but the Toffees have to like their chances here.

West Bromwich Albion vs. Manchester City

Dec. 26, 10:00 a.m. ET, 3:00 p.m. local

Roy Hodgson quietly has West Brom playing some solid football, even though they're not getting much production out of expected top scorer Peter Odemwingie. Both Odemwingie and Shane Long have been average to start the year, but they both look like solid bets for 10 Premier League goals. City obviously have the talent to crush WBA, but I have a sneaking suspiscion that this will be the best game of the day.

Stoke City vs. Aston Villa

Dec. 26, 2:45 p.m. ET, 7:45 p.m. local

The fact that this game exists is a sign that the end times are near.

Arsenal vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers

Dec. 27, 10:00 a.m. ET, 3:00 p.m. local

Originally scheduled for Boxing Day, this game was moved due to the tube strike. This will give Wolves more time to think about how they're not going to stop Robin van Persie, Gervinho more time to think about missing sitters, and the entire Arsenal squad more time to think about how they're going to pull off the most clear-cut, dominant 1-0 ass-whooping of a team in Premier League history.

Swansea City vs. Queens Park Rangers

Dec. 27, 12:00 p.m. ET, 5:00 p.m. local

Usually, these promoted team matchups suck. The good news is that Swansea, QPR and Norwich might be the best crop of promoted teams in the short history of the Premier League. Neil Warnock is still a fairly boring and old-school manager, however, and Swansea should be able to pass them to death on the basis of me loving Brendan Rodgers. Sound logic!

Norwich City vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Dec. 27, 2:30 p.m. ET, 7:30 p.m. local

Think Tottenham are heavy favorites? Well, Rafael van der Vaart, Aaron Lennon and their entire defense is injured. They will either A. Be starting Luka Modric out of position or B. Playing one of Niko Kranjcar, Giovani dos Santos or Steven Pienaar. On current form, none of those three players would start for Norwich. Grant Holt is a terrible matchup for Sebastien Bassong and William Gallas. Tottenham are favorites to win, but not by a large margin. This should be an excellent and close-fought match, probably the best of the entire set of fixtures between the two days.

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