6 Premier League Boxing Day Classics To Whet The Appetite


The Boxing Day football outing is one of the game's great offerings. I'll be at Old Trafford with the generations above and below me this Friday, surrounded by hungover fans in Father Christmas hats and with a positively festive mood permeating all from the mounted police to the pie sellers.

More than any other, it's a time to come together at the football. Old friends will be reunited, fathers will christen their sons to the sounds and smells of the stadium and all your team's disappointments will be forgotten by kick-off.

To get you in the mood, here are some Premier League Boxing Day classics that did nothing if not entertain.

 

1. Sheffield Wednesday 3-3 Manchester United, Boxing Day 1992

The Sheffield Wednesday-United match everybody remembers from the 1992-93 season is the one that took place at Old Trafford, complete with Brian Kidd knee slide and its Steve "Bruuuuuuuuuuuuce" moment. This one was less defining, but every bit as compelling.

Wednesday had a 3-0 lead on the hour mark, with David Hirst, Mark Bright and John Sheridan doing the damage and the striding legs of Carlton Palmer making a considerable impact in a muddy midfield battle.

United were doing everything but score until erstwhile rock star winger Lee Sharpe set up two goals for Brian 'Choccy' McClair in the space of 13 second-half minutes. It was Sharpe again who played provider for Eric Cantona - who else? - to scramble home United's equaliser with five minutes to go.

 

2. Middlesbrough 4-2 Everton, Boxing Day 1996

This was the mavericks Middlesbrough ensemble of Juninho, Fabrizio Ravanelli and Emerson - a mad Bryan Robson circus creation who'd be relegated while also reaching two cup finals and keeping us amused at every turn along the way.

Joe Royle's Everton dogs of war responded twice from going behind - the second time with a trademark towering header from the footballing kraken who was Duncan Ferguson. 

And then began the Juninho show. The Brazilian linked up with Ravanelli for both his goals, slaloming forward with the balance of a mountain goat to thrill the gathered Boxing Day crowds at the Riverside and offer false hope they might be moving in the right direction after all.

 

3. Coventry 3-2 Arsenal, Boxing Day 1999

Remember the enigmatic talents of Mustapha Hadji? Take a look at his wonderful goal in this one and the memories will come flooding back - a delightful curler past David Seaman to put Coventry 2-0 up.  

There's also a delightful dink of a finish from Robbie Keane to enjoy, though nothing gets close to the sublime goal scored by Croatian legend Davor Suker for Arsenal.

Suker only lasted a season at Arsenal but most players go through a career without putting together a collection of genius touches that culminate in a flicked chip into the top corner. "Magisterial" as the commentator Ray Hudson would say.

 

4. Charlton 4-2 Chelsea, Boxing Day 2003

Paolo Di Canio didn't score, but his finesse and flair was the defining factor as Alan Curbishley's entertainers went to town against Chelsea in a fine London derby upset.

Claudio Raneiri blasted his Chelsea defence afterwards and soon enough he'd be replaced by a certain Jose Mourinho, via a certain Russian flying over Stamford Bridge and deciding to buy the place. 

 

5. Tottenham 6-4 Reading Boxing Day 2007

Just your average 10-goal thriller this one. If that wasn't enough take a look back at the highlights and you'll realise it could easily have been 10-8, or 26-24 for that matter. A quite ridiculous orgy of ravenous attack vs. rubbish defending.

You'll also witness the smoking assassin who is Dimitar Berbatov give a masterclass in couldn't-care-less striking brilliance. Berba scored four on this day in 2007, each goal as dismissively dispatched as the last. 

Oh to be on the night out with Berba that followed the game before.

 

6. Manchester United 4-3 Newcastle, Boxing Day 2012

Back when Manchester United won things and inevitably scored goals in the last minute - back before a David Moyes-shaped cloud hung over Old Trafford for season and the nothingness swept in (Christmas movie credit: The Neverending Story) - Sir Alex Ferguson's team served up this festive cracker.

Newcastle put up a good fight but they should have known it was all in vain. This was Old Trafford, under Ferguson, and Chicharito's 90th-minute winner was as predictable as a shirtless, big-bellied Geordie in the stands.

Alan Pardew said Newcastle were "unlucky". The unlucky part was simply taking on a Ferguson team in a high-scoring thriller.

 

And for 2014?

Selfishly I'm hoping for Manchester United and Newcastle to produce again on Friday, but my suspicion is Chelsea and West Ham could be our entertainers for Boxing Day 2014.

Both are scoring goals for fun and when you throw in the heady vibes of a London derby at Christmas we could be in for another Boxing Day belter.

If you're going to a game, I hope you get a cracker.

Bet on the Boxing Day 2014 Premier League games now