A very different Boxing Day in the Premier League

This year is like none we have ever seen before, writes Ben Burrows

Monday 26 December 2022 21:30 GMT
Harry Kane scored just 16 days on from missing his penalty to send England crashing out of the World Cup
Harry Kane scored just 16 days on from missing his penalty to send England crashing out of the World Cup (Getty Images)

It is one of the traditions of the football calendar that fans look forward to the most. One of the few relics of the game’s past to remain untouched, Boxing Day sees teams up and down the country, from the Premier League to non-league, all play on the same day.

The day after Christmas in 2022, however, is like none we have ever seen before.

While the festive fixture schedule remains a favourite with supporters it is often seen as a chore for managers and players, the stresses of the modern TV-centric game never more pressing than they are between Christmas and New Year.

A first-ever winter World Cup only just behind us, Monday’s slate of games a first in six weeks could scarcely have been less welcome for many involved in them. The action in Qatar ended just eight days ago but a week on from Argentina’s triumph over France many of the stars of the tournament in the Middle East were back in the thick of the action as the Premier League kicked back off.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Son Heung-min and Ivan Perisic were all key players for their countries over the last month but were thrown back into duty at the earliest opportunity as Tottenham began the top flight’s resumption at Brentford.

They were soon reminded of the demands of the English game too, going two goals down before Hojbjerg and Harry Kane, just 16 days on from missing his penalty to send England crashing out, scored to earn a share of the points.

There is never any respite, the demand from multibillion-pound broadcast contracts and the fans that pay for them ever-increasing. Supporters in recent years can even watch every game now thanks to Amazon Prime’s emergence alongside Sky and BT at this time of the year.

If many of those involved would have liked a longer break between a World Cup and the return of club football, the same can be said for many of the journalists covering them, some of whom have swapped Lusail for Liverpool in the space of just a week. That adjustment may take a little time, the contrast between Lionel Messi, the greatest player of all time, and struggling Everton’s leading striker Neal Maupay is one that could take some getting used to.

The show must go on though and, with World Cup fatigue or not, we will be there to report on it.


Ben Burrows

Sports Editor

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