The Premier League is going through one of its most challenging periods since its inception in 1992.
This exhausting and seemingly never-ending global pandemic has wreaked havoc on an already jam-packed fixture list with games having a roughly 50:50 chance of going ahead due to coronavirus issues at clubs.
Liverpool’s highly anticipated 12.30pm kick-off with Leeds United this Sunday has already fallen foul of the high rates of the disease in the Premier League, while relegation threatened Watford no longer have a trip to Molineux penciled in for the post-Christmas activities. Everton’s game with Burnley has also been postponed.
However, the show must go on (at least according to Premier League officials that attended a meeting between all twenty clubs’ managers and captains on Wednesday).
There are still seven games to look forward to on Gameweek 19 across St. Stephen’s Day and December 27 of a hampered Premier League season.
There are four 3pm kick-offs on Sunday.
In the ever-changing race for the top four, current frontrunners Arsenal travel to Carrow Road to face Norwich City, while there is a London derby to savour at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium where Antonio Conte will be hoping to maintain his unbeaten start in domestic competitions with a rejuvenated Spurs side when they take on Crystal Palace.
At the same time in the East End of London, fellow Champions League candidates West Ham host Southampton as David Moyes’ men attempt to keep pace with their city rivals’ Arsenal and Tottenham.
The game of the day takes place at the Etihad Stadium where Pep Guardiola’s imperious Premier League leaders will have the chance to move six points clear of Liverpool when they host Leicester City.
Brendan Rodgers’ side took all three points from the home of the champions last season as they demolished them 2-5.
A similar result would be hugely surprising, however, given Leicester’s struggles at the back coupled with City’s strong defensive record. Despite that, there are usually goals when these two offensive-minded managers meet, with that fact being a major reason for Premier Sports televising the game at 3pm.
There are two other fixtures on TV on St. Stephen’s Day.
The first one sees Thomas Tuchel’s stuttering Chelsea team go head-to-head with Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa at Villa Park. That game is live on Sky Sports from 5.30pm with the European champions knowing anything less than victory could spell the end of their fleeting title hopes.
Sky Sports are also showing the 8pm game as two entertaining sides meet for the second time this season.
Brighton were the first team to defeat Brentford in their first ever season in the Premier League and they will be hoping to do so again in what is nothing more than a mid-table clash at the Amex Stadium to round off a busy day of football.
There is one game down for decision the following day as an old rivalry is renewed once more.
Newcastle United fans will be fearing a third relegation of the century for the remainder of the season and their survival hopes will most likely suffer another blow when they welcome Manchester United to St. James’ Park at 8pm on Monday, live on Sky Sports.
The Red Devils have had to accept that their wait for the title will be prolonged following a nightmare start to the season that eventually led to Ralf Rangnick replacing club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Old Trafford.
A huge clash for two of England’s biggest clubs rounds off a curtailed weekend of Premier League action.
Premier League fixtures on Sunday, December 26 (kick-off 3pm unless otherwise stated):
Manchester City vs Leicester City (Premier Sports)
Tottenham vs Crystal Palace
Norwich City vs Arsenal
West Ham United vs Southampton
Aston Villa vs Chelsea (5.30pm on Sky Sports)
Brighton vs Brentford (8pm on Sky Sports)
Newcastle United vs Manchester United (8pm on Sky Sports, December 27)