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Festive Season Sees Football Heating Up Nicely

By Glenn Cowan

Football plays a big part of Christmas, and why not?

Here’s a bit of a look through on some talking points and of course fixtures for the English Premier League.

Roll on Crimbo!

Surprise Package

Without question, Leicester City have become the surprise package so far this year. The dizzy heights of pole position in the richest league in the world are a far cry from the disarray that saw the club shamed in last years ill-fated visit to Thailand. Who can forget the Racist events of the end of season tour, which saw three players (and the manager) sacked - The club’s main sponsor King Power certainly wont!

Anyway, back to matters on the pitch….

Playing an attractive brand of football under manager Claudio Ranieri, The Tinkerman (as Chelsea would best remember him) has turned the relative new-comers into a strong outfit. So much so that at the start of December the club were on the same points as £2 Billion rated Manchester City. Maybe the EPL isn’t just for the rich boys after all?

Just who is James Vardy?

Of course no small thanks to record breaking James Vardy, the player Leicester signed from non-league Fleetwood Town for a cool £1Million back in 2012 - incidentally the club were still in the Championship at the time. Kudos to that scouting network!

 

Ruud Van Nistelrooy even took time out to send Vardy a tweet, wishing him good luck prior to going on to break the Dutchman’s consecutive scoring record - ironically against his old side. Oh how the rigid Van Gaal would love to have that kind of firepower available

Christmas Football

Games come thick and fast at this time of the year, testing the resolve of even the biggest of squads.

It always seems a little strange watching Boxing Day soccer at 20+ degrees, with the players running round in gloves! Anyone else with me on this?

The early game (7:45pm) sees Stoke entertaining Man U, will the wannabe champions fix their misfiring forward line up in time for a visit to the wet and windy Britannia Stadium? Rooney would certainly appreciate coming into some much needed form and what better time to start!

Those who are haven't drunk themselves into a (near) coma will be able to witness the following top-flight footie later on that evening. No less than 7 games to choose from at 10pm kick off, as follows:

  • Aston Villa vs West Ham

  • Bournemouth vs Crystal Palace

  • Chelsea vs Watford

  • Liverpool vs Leicester

  • Man City vs Sunderland

  • Swansea vs West Brom

  • Tottenham vs Norwich

Everton visit struggling Newcastle at 12:30am - The smart money being ploughed into the sacking of Steve McClaren (if he’s not gone already) should the Geordies not get a positive result against the Toffees.

For those who haven’t made it into iBar the (obscenely) late game sees Wenger's boys pay a visit to Southampton.

Just 48 hours later sees the next batch of Yuletide fixtures taking place. Five games scheduled for 10pm kick off:

  • Crystal Palace vs Swansea

  • Everton vs Stoke

  • Norwich vs Aston Villa

  • Watford vs Tottenham

  • West Brom vs Newcastle

Three late games make up the remaining fixtures for the Bank Holiday Monday Schedule with Arsenal hosting Bournemouth and Southampton visiting West Ham. Pick of the bunch has to go to Man U taking on Chelsea though!

Tuesday 29th sees Leicester taking on Man City - could well the decider to see who sits top of the coveted new year table.

Last but not least Liverpool visit Sunderland for Wednesdays game - Interesting to see how Klopp prepares his team for a game that Liverpool nearly always struggle in.

The last batch of games over the busy festive period sees a return to regular Saturday action. Lunch time kick off (7:45pm) and Liverpool are down in East London taking on a decent West Ham side.

Six games take place at the traditional 10pm start-time., here's the low-down:

  • Arsenal vs Newcastle

  • Leicester vs Bournemouth

  • Man U vs Swansea

  • Norwich vs Southampton

  • Sunderland vs Aston Villa

  • West Brom vs Stoke

Late game honours goes to Watford who host Man City, for those who are still up at the unearthly hour of 2:45am.

Sunday 3rd Jan sees a couple of (potentially) decent games, with Crystal Palace at home to Chelsea (8:30pm) and Everton taking on Tottenham in the Eleven o'clock kick-off.

Premier League action is then put firmly on the back-burner for the introduction of this years FA Cup 3rd round ties.

Romance Never Dies!

The big boys get no respite, immediately after the New Year fixtures they go into battle in the 3rd round of the now (research required by editor to actually pin down what the comp is now called) Emirates FA Cup. Of course, they will be hoping to avoid the potential banana skins of going out to lower league opposition. £67,500 awaits the victors and a place in this year’s Fourth round Budweiser Emirates FA Cup.

Where To Get Your Fix...

For those who are out and about for the EPL games then are spoilt for choice in where to watch. However, it would be remiss of me not to mention a few of my favourite venues:

 

I-Rovers on Soi LK Metro

Jamesons Irish Pub, Soi Sukurdee

The Players Lounge in East Pattaya

Witherspoons on Soi Baukhow

Of course, nothing to stop those who have CTH subscriptions staying in and watching the games - doesn’t have the same ring to it though, somehow!

Fifa Row Rumbles On

On a final note, this wouldn’t be a proper footie piece if it didn’t take a moment to mention the continuation of the ugly events at footballs head table.

Interestingly, Michel Platini is being singled out for a life-ban by FIFA; however, outgoing president Sepp Blatter doesn’t seem to be getting the same treatment.

Recent events have taken another turn for the bad (when you thought it couldn’t get smellier) with two high-ranking FIFA officials being arrested for allegedly accepting Millions of Dollars in bribes. Shock horror - who didn’t see that one coming!

Happy Christmas and let’s all look forward to a bung free New Year. Lol