Do post-Christmas Boxing Day battles always live up to the excitement around them or are they just like any other matchdays?
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Are Boxing Day games worth the hype? Boxing Day over the years has actually delivered thrillers in the Premier League but it makes one wonder, is it really any different from other gameweeks? All across Europe, it seems that only England has promulgated this age-old tradition, with fans trekking through the painstakingly frozen weather conditions to watch the games.
Many have questioned the wisdom behind this but the answer lies in the reflection of the question itself. Let us play back the VGA and take a look at some Boxing Day classics.
A Superstitious Goal-fest
Whether you’re a fan of this fixture or not, that is up to your measure of entertainment. However, one thing is for sure and that is: Boxing Day has always been a ruthless Goal-fest. The carnage that goes down echoes through history books, just take a look at Oldham Athletic beating Southport 11-0 in the year 1962, that too in terrifyingly frostbitten conditions. This is the biggest win recorded on Boxing Day and to do that in snowy conditions? Take a bow!
According to Opta, Boxing Day games have averaged up to 2.71 goals per game which is a tad bit higher than those across other games at 2.67 goals. So we only get 0.04 more goals than usual but an increment is an increment as they say. Given the nature of these games, this stat belies the excitement that accompanies them.
The Kings of Boxing Day
We’ve witnessed things close to the magnitude of an apocalypse unfold on the Boxing Day and the same bellows are likely to be heard in the stadiums this time around as well. However, there’s only been one King when it comes to this fixture with a considerably laden record. It is none other than Manchester United who’ve won 53 out of a total 93 fixtures played on this day.
Do you think they can carry this momentum going into this year’s Boxing Day? The Red Devils will be taking on Aston Villa at the Old Trafford, their spiritual mausoleum. Funnily enough, the second-best performers on Boxing Day are the boys from Villa Park with 46 wins, followed by Liverpool, Everton, and City – all of whom sit on 43 wins. Do Erik Ten Hag’s forces still have it in them to carry on their unbeaten streak from 2016? Speaking ahead of the game against Villa, the Dutchman had the following to say:
“I am not disappointed by the attitude. But of course we know what the standard is at Manchester United and we have to win as a team. So I take the word responsibility. We have to take that as a team and every individual has to contribute 100% in that responsibility we have.”
“But everyone. Maybe in moments you expect from the seniors even more with young players around. But if you are good enough, you are also old enough. We have to do it together. It doesn’t matter what age it is. We have to put a team [out] who has to win the game.”
Is Boxing Day worth the Hype?
Before we pass an incontrovertible verdict, it’d help our case to look at some statistics and history. From a purely statistical perspective, there’s an 89% chance of you getting to enjoy a game with goals since only 30 out of a total 269 games have ended 0-0 in a goalless draw, which is 11.1%. The heftiest Boxing Day goals baggage was delivered in 1999, with over 35 goals – a rather exhilarating end to the first millennium, no?
Not only have we seen goals on this day, but we’ve seen some terrific ones too. Just about 4 years ago, Jordan Ayew danced around the Hammers’ defense to tuck in a 90th-minute winner.
Are Boxing Day games worth the hype? Boxing Day’23
This year’s edition of the Boxing Day welcomes five fixtures, in which Liverpool and Manchester United will be in action. The Reds will be squaring off with Burnley in an attempt to further threaten Arsenal’s top spot and the Red Devils are simply trying not to crash into a wall as they face the high-flying Aston Villa side. Let’s get on the couch, slacken our backs, and savor another mayhem of Goals.