Stu Forster

Boxing Day: Manchester United win while City lose in wild matches

The Premier League title race is a bit less tight after Boxing Day. Manchester United are seven points clear of their closest rivals, Manchester City, who lost to Sunderland.

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Mata wins it for Chelsea

It wasn't pretty, but Chelsea did what they needed to do to gain a win on Boxing Day.


Chicharito scores winner in 7-goal thriller

Thanks to poor defenses, less than ideal midfields, poor officiating and lots of rain, Manchester United and Newcastle produced an entertaining spectacle on Boxing Day.


United controversially trail

It's been a rough first 45 minutes for Manchester United at home against Newcastle United, though they have a legitimate argument that they should not be behind. They haven't played very well against the Magpies and have allowed their opponents to have way too many good opportunities, but the most recent goal in the match was a controversial one, and they might not deserve to trail 2-1.

The first goal came as a result of two successive errors, first from Michael Carrick, then by David De Gea. Carrick gifted possession to Newcastle with a giveaway, which led to a Demba Ba shot. David De Gea spilled the ball right into the path of James Perch, who had an easy finish.

United's equalizer came on a free kick by Robin van Persie, though his free kick didn't do anything to guide the ball into the net. It was a poor effort, but Ryan Giggs managed to move the ball along and find Javier Hernandez in traffic. 'Chicharito' put a good shot on target that was saved by Tim Krul, but Jonny Evans was there to punch in the rebound.

Late in the half, Evans' luck changed. He poked in an own goal that initially looked like it would be disallowed when the linesman's flag went up. Papiss Cisse was offside on the move and looked to make contact with Evans when he poked the ball into his own net, but Mike Dean ruled that Cisse did not interfere with play and allowed the goal to stand.


Sunderland vs. Manchester City: Lineups

Manchester City have named an unusual lineup for their trip to the Stadium of Light to take on Sunderland.

In a lineup containing three centrebacks, Matija Nastasic, Vincent Kompany and Kolo Toure all start for the Blues. Robeto Mancini sticks with his Sergio Aguero-Carlos Tevez patnership up front, while there is another start for Javi Garcia in midfield. The in-form David Silva also starts in a strong attack for the Citizens.

Sunderland, meanwhile, stick with their usual 4-4-1-1, with Sebastian Larsson lining up in midfield. Craig Gardner also continues in his role at centre-back for the Black Cats, and Steven Fletcher and Stephane Sessegnon continue their partnership up front.

Sunderland (4-4-1-1): Simon Mignolet; Carlos Cuellar, Matthew Kilgallon, Craig Gardner, Danny Rose; Adam Johnson, Jack Colback, Sebastian Larsson James McClean; Stephane Sessegnon; Steven Fletcher

Manchester City (3-5-2): Joe Hart; Matija Nastasic,Vincent Kompany (c), Kolo Toure; Pablo Zabaleta, Javi Garcia, Yaya Toure, David Silva, James Milner; Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez.


David Luiz in midfield again

Because Oriol Romeu and Ramires haven't figured out that whole passing thing yet, while Frank Lampard is quite old at this point, the David Luiz in midfield experiment continues. He seems to pick it up a bit better each time he plays in a double pivot for Chelsea, so maybe Rafael Benitez is on to something. The other notable decision in Chelsea's lineup is the one to rest Eden Hazard. Victor Moses has been in good form since Benitez took over, so it's not a bad time for a break. Norwich's lineup is a conventional one with no surprises.

Norwich starting lineup (4-5-1): Mark Bunn; Russell Martin, Michael Turner, Sebastien Bassong, Javier Garrido; Robert Snodgrass, Alex Tettey, Bradley Johnson, Anthony Pilkington, Wes Hoolahan, Grant Holt

Chelsea starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Petr Cech; Cesar Azpilicueta, Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole; John Obi Mikel, David Luiz; Victor Moses, Oscar, Juan Mata; Fernando Torres


Rooney sits for Manchester United

Perhaps because he just needs a rest, or perhaps because he had his worst game of the season over the weekend, Wayne Rooney has been benched for Manchester United's Boxing Day match against Newcastle United. Ryan Giggs looks set to play on the left as Alex Ferguson goes with a rare traditional 4-4-2. Newcastle are dealing with some injury issues, but might be mailing it in a bit against United and resting stars in midfield for more winnable encounters to come. Gael Bigirimana, a talented 19-year-old, gets a rare start in midfield for the Magpies.

Manchester United starting lineup (4-4-2): David De Gea; Patrice Evra, Jonny Evans, Rio Ferdinand, Chris Smalling; Ryan Giggs, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Antonio Valencia; Javier Hernandez, Robin van Persie

Newcastle United starting lineup (4-4-2): Tim Krul; Davide Santon, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, Danny Simpson; Gael Bigirimana, James Perch, Vurnon Anita, Sylvain Marveaux; Papiss Cisse, Demba Ba


QPR vs. West Brom delayed

Boxing Day is a holiday in the U.K., and most people are not going to work across the country. However, London is a huge city with lots of ultra-important people, and many of them are going to work on Wednesday. Additionally, there are a ton of people going shopping, and there's currently a tube strike going on, which is why Arsenal and West Ham can't play as scheduled. There's a lot of traffic in London today.

So much traffic, in fact, that West Bromwich Albion was stuck in bad gridlock and just got to Loftus Road a mere 45 minutes before their match against Queens Park Rangers. That isn't enough time for everyone to get off the bus, get dressed and sufficiently warm up, so kickoff of the game between the two teams has been delayed 15 minutes. It will now kick off at 3:15 p.m. local time, 10:15 a.m. ET.

Let's get a deal worked out with that train drivers' union?

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