Premier Leagues have been won and lost on Boxing Day. That’s why Sports Interaction have provided the ultimate guide to Boxing Day fixtures since the Premier League began.
The report makes for enjoyable reading for Manchester United fans. In 22 Boxing Day fixtures, the Red Devils have only lost one game (a 3-1 defeat to Middlesbrough in 2002), drawn twice and won 19 times – given them a whopping win percentage of 86.4%. Such is United’s mystical hold on Boxing Day, they even managed to win with David Moyes in charge, seeing off Hull City 3-2 last season.
Another indication of Manchester United’s freakish record on Boxing Day is the gap between themselves and Arsenal, the team with the second best Boxing Day team in the Premier League era. The Gunners have also only lost once in 22 Boxing Day fixtures, but have drawn six times and won 15, returning a win percentage of 68.2%
The figures show that United and Arsenal are in a league of their own when it comes to Boxing Day performances, as third placed Liverpool only have a win ratio of 45.5%. Interestingly, of their 10 victories, five came under the management of Rafa Benitez and Liverpool haven’t registered a Boxing Day win since the Spaniard’s departure.
Festive jeer for Aston Villa…
Burnley, Hull City and Swansea have lost every single Premier League Boxing Day fixtures they’ve played. However, as that only amounts to only seven games between the three teams (three each for Swansea and Hull City, just one for Burnley), it would be unfair to label any of them the biggest bottlers on Boxing Day. No, of the sides that have played over 10 Premier League fixtures, Aston Villa are the team with the worst Boxing Day record in Premier League history. Villa have won only three times in 22 fixtures, drawing five times and losing 14 – returning a measly win ratio of 13.6%.
Everton are another side with 22 years of Premier League experience, but Christmas has rarely been full of cheer for the Toffees’ faithful. They have six wins, seven draws and nine defeats, meaning they have a win ratio of 27.3%. Newcastle also seem to suffer from Christmas hangovers, winning only four times in 20 fixtures (20%). Worryingly for the Magpies, they travel to Old Trafford – the festive fortress – this year.
Robbie Fowler – The King of Christmas
The report also looked at individual performances in Boxing Day fixtures, revealing Robbie Fowler to be the Premier League’s most prolific Boxing Day player – with eight goals scored for Liverpool and Man City between 1994-2004. Thierry Henry and current MLS MVP Robbie Keane lead the chasing pack with seven goals a piece, while Theo Walcott is the most prolific active player with six goals, including a brace last season and a hat-trick against Newcastle the year before. Jermaine Defoe also has six goals, five for Spurs and one for West Ham.
One of the most surprising hotshots on Boxing Day is none other than Gareth Barry. The defensive midfielder clearly enjoys his Christmas dinner, netting three times for Aston Villa and once for Manchester City. With Barry now at Everton, Mark Hughes may need to consider some special marking plans when his Stoke side travel to Goodison Park this Christmas.
Frank Doyle from Sports Interaction said; “It’s long been said that Manchester United always seemed to win the league in December and this report goes a long way in quantifying that. Old Trafford is a festive fortress and even when they travel away, they act like the Grinch – ruining everyone else’s Christmas!
“The individual records also provided some quality trivia for the stat-loving fan. While the top goal scorers are all names you’d associate with prolificacy, the likes of Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor will be horrified to know that Gareth Barry is their club’s top Boxing Day striker!”