Although the Christmas spirit was not as strong as in recent years, fans were welcomed back to Premier League football on Boxing Day for the first time since 2019, with five matches on the schedule.
Despite numerous reports to the contrary, Tottenham’s match against Crystal Palace went ahead, and Antonio Conte will be delighted it did because his team strolled to a 3-0 win over 10-man Crystal Palace due to Harry Kane, Lucas Moura, and Son Heung-min.
Manchester City, meanwhile, held off a second-half comeback from Leicester City to win a nine-goal thriller 6-3 at the Etihad Stadium after leading by four goals after 25 minutes.
With a 5-0 win over Norwich City, Arsenal cut the deficit behind Chelsea to just three points. The Gunners extended their lead over West Ham, who were defeated 3-2 by Southampton at the London Stadium.
● Manchester City 6 – 3 Leicester City
In a Boxing Day classic at the Etihad Stadium, the champions raced to a 4-0 lead before 25 minutes, but the visitors battled back to 4-3.
It needed a late goal from Raheem Sterling, his second of the game, and Aymeric Laporte’s goal to end the Foxes’ improbable comeback.
Sterling scored one of the hosts’ two penalties in the first half, with former Leicester striker Riyad Mahrez converting the other. Kevin De Bruyne scored the game’s first goal, and Ilkay Gundogan added a second.
Early in the second half, Leicester responded with goals from James Maddison, Ademola Lookman, and Kelechi Iheanaco, but the injury-plagued visitors could not keep up the pressure.
● Tottenham 3 – 0 Crystal Palace
Tottenham heaped on the agony for Crystal Palace with a 3-0 win on Boxing Day, with Lucas Moura scoring one and assisting on two others.
Palace had tried unsuccessfully to have the game called off due to a coronavirus outbreak in their team. Manager Patrick Vieira was one of those who tested positive and could not travel to north London.
And, once the Premier League decided to play the game, Moura made matters worse by putting on a magnificent performance, setting up goals for Harry Kane and Son Heung-min on each side of his headed effort in the first half.
Before the break, Wilfried Zaha added to his side’s difficulties with an unnecessary red card, leaving Palace wishing their request had been granted.
● West Ham 2 – 3 Southampton
If there’s one thing to take away from Southampton’s performance, it’s that James Ward-Prowse is unquantifiable.
On the South Coast, it is widely acknowledged that the relegation battle is well and truly underway, with five teams currently striving to avoid relegation.
Southampton displayed enough passion, grit, and perseverance to frustrate West Ham for lengthy stretches of the game. However, they won this game because James Ward-Prowse once again demonstrated his class.
The midfielder is a true Southampton man, and he displays it every time he takes the field. He was all over the middle, and his effort was rounded off with a goal and an assist.
● Norwich 0 – 5 Arsenal
Arsenal beat Norwich 5-0 on Boxing Day, boosting their chances of finishing in the Premier League’s top four. Bukayo Saka scored twice for Arsenal.
As others in the standings have had games postponed owing to Covid instances, the Gunners have been able to complete all of their encounters recently, and Mikel Arteta’s side made light work of bottom-placed Norwich at Carrow Road.
Saka scored twice in the first half, either side of a rare Kierney goal. Arsenal outclassed Norwich, with Alexandre Lacazette winning and converting a late penalty and Emile Smith Rowe scoring off the bench.
● Aston Villa 1 – 3 Chelsea
Chelsea went behind to a Matt Targett cross that deflected in off the head of defender Reece James, but Jorginho equalised for Thomas Tuchel’s side from the penalty spot just before half-time.
Chelsea took the lead through Romelu Lukaku, who came on as a half-time substitute, with a superb glancing header from a Callum Hudson-Odoi cross. Then he was hauled down by Ezri Konsa in stoppage time, and Jorginho made no mistake from the penalty spot.