Premier League: A look at the best Boxing Day fixtures

To the delight of many football fans, the Premier League returns for the second half of the 2022-23 season on Boxing Day (December 26) — just eight days after the World Cup final is due to take place at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar on December 18.

What impact the Middle East-based tournament is really going to have on the latter portion of this exciting campaign remains to be seen.

However, we might get a better sense of the influence the unprecedented World Cup has made from the first round of fixtures — most of which take place on Boxing Day, aside from Chelsea hosting Bournemouth and Manchester United taking on Nottingham Forest on December 27, while Manchester City travel to Leeds United the following day.

With that said, read on as we take a look at some of the best fixtures set to take place on December 26.

Brentford v Tottenham

Kicking the English top-flight action back off with a London derby, Brentford will play host to Tottenham Hotspur in the 12:30 game on Boxing Day.

The betting tips today are backing Antonio Conte’s men to restart their bid for a place in the top four with a win over the west Londoners, but Spurs’ form was questionable before the break — with three losses and two wins in their last five — and the likes of Richarlison, Harry Kane, Ivan Perisic, Hugo Lloris and Cristian Romero could be struggling for fitness after deep runs at the World Cup.

Brentford also had a handful of players out in the Middle East, but most were sent home early — meaning they should be ready and raring to go come game day. Thomas Franks’ side have been a tough nut to crack this season, with seven draws and just four defeats. This could be another stalemate.

Aston Villa v Liverpool

Unbeaten in the Premier League since Unai Emery replaced Steven Gerrard in the Villa Park dugout, beating Manchester United 3-1 at home and Brighton 2-1 on their travels, Aston Villa’s passionate fanbase will be hoping the Clarets can pick up where they left off when the Premier League returns.

Liverpool will be keen to put the first half of the season behind them after their start to the season, winning less than half (six) of their opening 14 games. Jurgen Klopp’s side did win their last two outings before the break as well though, most notably beating Tottenham in London. But they need to keep building on that if they want a place in the top four.

The Reds have a 57% chance of winning this tie in the Midlands, and should be able to board the bus home with all three points in the bag.

Arsenal v West Ham United

Ending things back where we started — in London, as Arsenal are set to go head-to-head with their cross-city rivals West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners are, of course, the table-toppers. But they need to make sure the World Cup stoppage hasn’t had an adverse effect on their title bid. The fact that Gabriel Jesus has sustained a bad knee injury is not good news, however, and Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and William Saliba could still be suffering a World Cup hangover — making it a far from ideal situation for Mikel Arteta.

West Ham manager David Moyes might consider himself lucky to even still be in a job after the season his side have had at the London Stadium. The Hammers are just one point clear of the relegation zone after losing their final three games before the World Cup, and they will need to show a serious improvement to turn things around.

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