Dec 26, 2008

Soccer Source Boxing Day breakdown

We still aren't quite sure what Boxing Day is or where it comes from, nor do we know when and how it became associated with playing a full slate of games in the English Premiership. We just know we like it. Not only do Boxing Day games provide invaluable entertainment, they get you out of another post holiday tradition, which is inter-family fighting (come to think of it, maybe that's where the holiday got its pugilistic origins? That might just be the best explanation we've heard yet).

Where were we? Oh right, the Premiership games! The biggest of the bunch was undoubtedly the one that was played last. We're talking about the Aston Villa v. Arsenal match up, of course, where the fourth- and fifth-placed teams in the EPL faced each other at Villa Park. It was an entertaining and contentious affair. Villa owned the first half but Gunners were the only team that scored in the first 45 minutes. They went ahead 2-0 early in the second half and had several chances (one ball off the post) for a third goal that would have put the game out of reach. Instead, Villa got a break from the referee---the linesman, actually, who saw a foul inside the box where television replays were unable to pick anything up--and usurped the opportunity to narrow the deficit to 2-1 and get themselves back in the game. Martin O'Neill's team pushed and pushed and a finally in stoppage time got the equalizer from Zat Knight. Even still, the result flatters Arsenal who were outplayed for just about the entire match. Villa maintain their hold on fourth place, while Gunners are now 10 points behind leaders Liverpool and for all intents and purposes out of the title chase. From the looks of it they'll have a fight on their hands to even qualify for the Champions League spots. They host Pompey Sunday in another vital game. Villa face Hull City, which shouldn't present much of a problem seeing how they performed today (losing 5-1 to Man. City).

Earlier in the day, the favored clubs all won, some easily (Chelsea 2, WBA 0; Liverpool 3, Bolton 0) others less so (Man United 1, Stoke City 0 on a late goal by Carlos Tevez). But don't be sad if you missed them; we'll do the whole thing again with a full slate of games on Sunday!

Photo taken from Eurosport/Yahoo without permission.

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