7 Observations From Premier League’s Boxing Day Matches

While we romanticize about Boxing Day fixtures in English football, the two things I often forget are (1) the matches are often low-scoring encounters since the quality of the pitch and weather this time of the year isn’t the greatest, and (2) there’s often a surprise result in store. We got both of those today. Here are seven observations I learned from today’s matches:

  1. Queens Park Rangers were robbed today. West Bromwich Albion’s second goal should have been disallowed when Marc-Antoine Fortune used his back to impede QPR goalkeeper Rob Green. Plus, QPR should have been awarded a penalty kick late in the game after Liam Ridgewell handled the ball in the area.
  2. Reading deserved to win today. Michu wasn’t on form today for Swansea, while Reading had the better chances and applied more pressure on their opponents goal throughout most of the match. Worryingly for Swansea, this is their third match in a row where they’ve been unable to keep possession as well as they’re used to.
  3. Newcastle threw away a golden opportunity. Manchester United was there for the taking: Poor defensively, without Wayne Rooney and leaking goals. Yet Newcastle United were unable to maintain the lead they had on three separate occasions because their defending was worse than Manchester United’s.
  4. Sir Alex Ferguson should have been sent to the stands. If any other managers had treated the referee and his assistants the way that Ferguson did at the beginning of the second half today against Newcastle, they would have been sent to the stands. The way he got in their faces and remonstrated over and over again was disappointing of a manager who has been in the game for so long. At the same time, his seniority and power in the top league was presumably why referee Mike Dean decided to not punish the Scot.
  5. Kelvin Davis did it again for Southampton. It was another embarrassing mistake by the Southampton goalkeeper again this season. This time he gifted Fulham’s Dimitar Berbatov a goal after he palmed the ball into the path of the Bulgarian striker. If the Saints go down, a lot of it has to go down to their poor goalkeeping.
  6. Bale stole the show, but Defoe deserves credit. Gareth Bale hit his first Premier League hat trick of his career today but it was striker Jermain Defoe who opened the scoring in what had until that point been a cagey match at Villa Park. So far this season, Defoe has scored or assisted 12 of Tottenham’s 18 goals in the league when he’s started the match.
  7. Stoke City deserve more credit. Today FOX Soccer presenter Rob Stone described Stoke as having a “style of play [that] is not exactly the easiest on the eye.” They’re defensively sound, but they counter attack well and the team can be exciting to watch when given a chance. As we saw against Liverpool, their style of play isn’t continuous long balls into the box. The Potters mix it up with some quick, short passing into the box as well as crosses into the area, but they will combine it now and again with a long ball about 30 yards for goal where they’re hoping a flick on to one of their players running into the box.

What are some of your observations you saw today that aren’t mentioned above? Share them in the comments section below. Or if you agree or disagree with any of my points, let me know why.

Also, would anyone be interested in pointing out some observations from the Sunderland-Manchester City match that you’d like to share? Please do in the comments section below.

14 thoughts on “7 Observations From Premier League’s Boxing Day Matches”

  1. 1. Manchester City won’t win the title this season. Too many games where they have dominated and either lost or drawn. Today’s loss sums up their season.

    2. Everton will finish above Liverpool by a wide margin and may even have a chance at finishing in the top 4. Definitely top 6 though. They win against teams they should beat. Liverpool are nothing more than a midtable team with an average manager in Rodgers. Not sure what everyone sees in him. Style without substance.

    3. Chelsea could be the team to pose the biggest challenge to United. Rafa is slowly making them a team to contend with and their defense is getting better and they have the talent to score.

    4. United will win the title because once again they win even when they are not at their best.

    5. Ferguson’s behavior towards the officials was definitely worthy of a sending off and heavy fine. Any other manager would have been sent off from the sidelines for doing the same thing.

  2. I was very impressed with Stoke today. They didn’t get a whole lot of chances, but they did well with what they got. Like you noted, they don’t just lump the ball into the box and hope for the best. They do a great job with what they have. They have a solid defense and are able to push up quickly on the counter as well as play some possession and quick passing when needed. Pulis may be knocked for playing defensively, but credit must be given for his pragmatism and ability to keep Stoke in the Premier League year after year.

    1. Spurs have scored 18 goals this season when Defoe has started. Out of those 18 goals, 12 of them have either been scored or assisted by Defoe. I made a correction to the article to make it more clear, but thanks for pointing that out.

      The Gaffer

  3. Good observation about Defoe’s goal, but it was Naughton’s pass with perfect vision and touch that unlocked it all! we absolutely dominated in the first half but had nothing to show for it, we could have quiet easily put up 8 with better finishing.

    Gallas still worries me but he limped off at the end so there maybe a rest from him, Caulker hill hopefully get the nod against SAFC.

  4. Stoke are a big intimidating team that certainly play to their strengths, but are a bit short on pace. With the addition of a couple of real pacey players I could see them challenging for fourth place.

  5. Stoke are a highly effective team, but they are a long-ball team, Gaffer. Just because they string together a few short passes, it doesn’t change what they are … and you know, that’s OK. But look at the three goals yesterday: a Skrtel slip while defending a long ball, a header off a corner, and a nice goal by Walters off a long throw into the box.

    On the other side, Liverpool were terrible. Shelvey has been a waste of space for about a month now, the lack of creativity and invention in the midfield is glaring, and the defenders seem to have semi-regular brain farts.

    Rodgers’ inflexibility in the way the team plays, no matter the opponent, is also worrisome. It’s not hard to figure out how Stoke are going to play, so why not bring in Coates to deal with the size and strength of Stoke and employ Johnson and Enrique as wingbacks?

    1. The problem with Liverpool is that they brought in a manager that was overrated. It now shows that Rodgers has been outcoached and he lacks tactical awareness. I can see Liverpol losing to QPR on Sunday and struggling against Sunderland next week. Don’t be surprised to see Liverpool in the bottom 6 by next week.

    2. What’s the difference between an accurate long ball played up to, and headed by, Kenwyne Jones and a long ‘hollywood’ pass played, more often than not into touch, by Steven Gerrard?

        1. And that gets sneered at whilst Gerrard’s accurate 25% of the time ‘hollywood’ style is lauded. Football snobbery by the ‘nu fan’ at its finest. Whatever makes you feel superior I suppose.

  6. City can’t finish. They can dominate the ball but are clueless to beat a defense that parks everyone in the box. I’ve seen it countless times so far this season and it’s more and more frustrating each time. I don’t have an answer for it either but I think there’s too much standing around waiting for someone else to make a run or do something.

    Come on City!!!!

  7. I was surprised that Fergie wasn’t dealt with by Dean, but once the ref didn’t do anything, I didn’t expect any more to come od it.

    I also believe that it’s as likely that Dean didn’t do anything about it because he blew the call. There’s every likelihood that he saw the video after the fact and realized his error.

    It’s also worth noting that he didn’t do anything about Newcastle, particularly ex-TFC doofus John Carver, and their after-match behaviour. Considering they got more calls than United (the goal plus a pretty clear handball with a hand well out of “natural position” to block Chicharito’s effort, they had less (but certainly some things) to remonstrate about.

    Considering all the calls that were blown on this one day alone, it would appear that while Santa DID bring the refs new glasses for Christmas, he got the prescriptions mixed up.


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