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    Boxing Day 2016: Three Matches to Keep an Eye On



    Manchester City's Fernando defends against Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez. (Credit to Mirror UK.)


    As 2016 winds down to an end, the Barclays Premier League hits a very busy period with three rounds of fixtures taking place during a nine-day span. During this period, teams look to rack on the points to help their chances of starting the new year in good-form. Others look to stave off dropping points in fear of falling further down the table.

    Whether you are heading back to work, or enjoying the Christmas festivities a tad bit longer, here are three fixtures on Boxing Day that you should keep an eye on.

    Arsenal (4th place) vs. West Bromwich Albion (8th place) -- 15:00 G.M.T.

    This game is a a must-win for both sides who are looking to bounce back after tough defeats. Arsenal have slipped to back-to-back league defeats, most recently a 2-1 road loss at Manchester City. Arsene Wenger's side fell off in the second half at the Etihad, while star players Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil looked to be invisible on the pitch. The Gunners now sit in fourth, nine points off of league-leaders Chelsea. They need to get their edge back offensively, while also being wary of West Brom's counter-attacking ability. If they drop points over the Christmas period, they could see their title chances slipping away.

    West Brom fell 2-0 to Manchester United at home last Saturday, in a match where they couldn't get much going. After a convincing 3-1 win vs. Swansea last Wednesday, it looked as if the Baggies were in good position to pull the upset against MU. Offensively Salomón Rondon needs to be more of a consistent threat for the Baggies up-top. After a hat-trick of headers against Swansea, Rondon was isolated most of the match against Manchester United. We all know Tony Pulis sides are built from the back, but they need to take more chances offensively if they really want to be a threat for a possible Europa League spot.

    Chelsea (1st place) vs. A.F.C. Bournemouth (10th) -- 15:00 G.M.T.

    This is an interesting fixture which should be a dandy at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea are on-fire, winning 11 league fixtures in a row while also claiming nine clean sheets during that span. Antonio Conte has this side hitting on all cylinders and has greatly turned the team around from a year ago. Diego Costa (13 goals) will not be available due to suspension, so we could see Michy Batshuayi as his replacement. Eden Hazard is back to world-class form, while players like Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses have excelled under their new boss. Six points ahead of second-place Liverpool, puts Chelsea in the driver seat of their own destiny for the league title.

    As for Eddie Howe's Cherries, they sit in 10th with 21 points, half of what they had last season. They have been able to beat the likes of Liverpool, Leicester, West Brom, and Everton so far. Coming off a 3-1 derby defeat to Southampton last Sunday, Bournemouth will look to shock the leaders at their home pitch. This fixture a year ago, saw Bournemouth shock Chelsea 1-0 thanks to a Glenn Murray winner. Striker Callum Wilson (five goals) will be the man to watch, while forward Josh King also provides a threat. The key for Bournemouth is to defend in numbers and try to catch Chelsea on the counter for a shot of winning this match.

    Leicester City (15th) vs. Everton (9th) -- 15:00 G.M.T.

    A year ago, Leicester were currently top of the table which was a huge shock to the entire footballing world. Twelve months later, Claudio Ranieri's side are fighting for consistency trying to stay clear of the relegation zone. A 2-2 draw at Stoke, with ten-men was a key point for Leicester last weekend, as they head into a busy part of the season. They have been inconsistent, losing to Hull, Bournemouth, and Sunderland while beating the likes of Manchester City. Advancing to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League was a nice surprise, but the reality is Ranieri needs to get this team rocking again. With Jamie Vardy facing a suspension from his red-card last weekend, Riyad Mahrez will need to step up in his teammate's absence. A win over Everton at the KP could surely be a momentum swing.

    Ronald Koeman's Everton had an up-down week after defeating Arsenal 2-1 before falling late against Liverpool 1-0. The Merseyside defeat hurts, but the Toffees need to forget and move on. Now sitting in ninth, and only sitting two points ahead of three other teams, Everton need to put in a good performance away from home. They have earned seven points from eight road matches so far and need to be more consistent away from Goodison Park. Romelu Lukaku (nine goals) is a top-striker but he needs help from his supporting cast. Players like Ross Barkley, Gerard Deulofeu, and Kevin Mirallas need to chip in for the good of the team. If Everton fall in this match, look for Koeman to look for some reinforcements during the January transfer window.

    Round #18 continues on Tuesday and Wednesday with Liverpool hosting Stoke, and Southampton hosting Tottenham Hotspur.

    For more news and updates, follow @lhenry019 and @PremPreviewMag on Twitter! 
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    Item Reviewed: Boxing Day 2016: Three Matches to Keep an Eye On Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Larry Henry Jr
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