Well, it didn’t quite match the much-fabled Boxing Day of 1963 but there were plenty of goals shared around on the day after Christmas 2021.
Up at the Emptyhad, it was borderline genius or farcical – depending on your viewpoint. Leicester City, not known for their ability to defend this season, managed to find themselves four down within 30 minutes – thanks in the main to Youri Tielemens attempting a Christmas record of conceding three penalties in one game. The Belgian fell short by one and Brentan was seen furiously scribbling in his notebook as Man City’s fourth hit the back of the net.
What could have he been writing? Surely nothing that could save this shambles – yet Leicester flew out of the second-half blocks and scored three quickuns themselves, making it 4-3. James Maddison, for 15 minutes, made it look like Peppy G signed the wrong player when he forked out 100 million big ones for Jack Grealish.
Leicester awakening shook City back into a bit of life – they felt the need to score two more just to make the game safe. The final score, 6-3. Bonkers. If Marc Albrighton hadn’t managed to diving head it wide from three yards out? Who knows.
At 1-0 down to a Steven Gerrard-less Aston Villa, many were writing the obituary to Chelsea’s Premier League title challenge. Eduoard Mendy managed to find another way to concede a bizarre goal – this time, Matt Targett’s cross deflecting off Reece James leaving Mendy approximately 30 seconds to adjust his feet and catch the ball. The keeper, however, looked like his boots were stuck in Christmas treacle and the ball looped over his head and in.
Tommy T did have a present to unwrap at halftime, though. It’s always useful when you can throw on a £90m striker when you are chasing a goal or two and Romelu Lukaku certainly delivered – first, out-er-muscling the weakest of challenges from Tyrone Mings to head home a cross and then bouncing Targett to the floor before forcing Konza to bring him down in the area. Another hop, skip and jump from Jorginho and three points were heading back to Stamford Bridge.
Arsenal are looking surprisingly good in Arsene Wenger’s favourite spot in the league – they sit happily fourth having destroyed Norwich 5-0 at Carrow Road. Bakayo Saka was doing his very best impression of Arjen Robben, cutting in from the right and scoring goals. Even Lacazette remembered how to score penalties as the Gunners opened up the gap to 5th to six points (just don’t mention the fact that Spurs have three games in hand).
Speaking of Spurs, Antonio Conte is making them a lot less rubbish than they were when he turned up. A 3-0 win over Crystal Palace was clinical and saw Harry Kane notch his best Premier League goal of the season to date. Wilf Zaha clearly didn’t fancy it, so picked up two cheap yellows in the first half.
West Ham’s attempt to challenge the top four is certainly over for another season. They fell 3-2 at home to Southampton who celebrated the win as if it meant they were staying up. West Ham were very good at getting back into the game but then very bad at not conceding moments later.
Brighton hadn’t won in 12 matches before Brentford’s visit to the Amex. Neal Maupay, not the most consistent of goalscoring options in world football, scored the killer second just before halftime.
Various Premier League clubs with more money than sense (looking at you, Newcastle) will be alerted to the fact that Gareth Bale and Isco have been stuck on the Real Madrid transfer list.
Madrid need to free up a bit of space to make it possible to pay Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger silly amounts per week.
As we know, the La Liga giants have no money to spend at all – which is why they are so keen for the ESL to still happen. Barcelona are getting over their lack of liquidity by being forced to only spend £50m on Ferran Torres from Man City and take on Edinson Cavani’s paltry wages.
United are looking to raid the Bundesliga for any young Germans Ralf says would make sense. Florian Wirtz, Luca Netz, Eric Martel and the magnificently named Armel Bella-Kotchap are all on their way to Old Trafford if you believe the goss – and they will be joined by Marseille’s Boubacar Kamara who will be as free as a bird come the summer.
Jose Mourinho, having hated picking young English players for all his years in England, would like Ainsley Maitland-Niles to join him and Tammy Abraham in Rome.
Finally, Leeds fans were in another meltdown after rumours broke that Raphinha was off to Bayern Munich for £50m. Relax, it’s not happening – not yet, anyway…