The best Boxing Day games of all time

It’s that time of year again: when football fans eat leftover turkey, have a drink without worrying about work the next day, and watch the great game all day.

Boxing Day has traditionally been a football-filled extravaganza and has already seen some of the season’s craziest games played out on this date.

The 2020 offer is quite tempting, with Chelsea traveling to take on North London rivals Arsenal while top-flight Leicester welcome a booming Manchester United.

Let’s take a look at the best games ever played on December 26th.

Robbie Keane, Hadji and Chippo
A young Robbie Keane has put Arsenal to the sword | Mark Thompson / Getty Images

Once upon a time Coventry was a competitive Premier League side. Their team consisted of Moroccan superstar Mustapha Hadji, Scotsman Gary McAllister and a little-known Irish prospect by the name of Robbie Keane.

All three were on the scoresheet for that game as Gordon Strachan’s Sky Blues put Arsene Wenger’s side to the sword to start the Gunners’ title charge.

Having failed to score in their last five visits to Old Trafford and being denied an unprecedented treble in the FA Cup final two years earlier, Liverpool have proven to spoil Christmas for Manchester United.

Bob Paisley’s team dominated the proceedings as Ray Kennedy, Jimmy Case and a magnificent solo strike from David Fairclough were enough that day. According to Liverpool Echo, United fans actually applauded Fairclough’s goal, which tells you everything you need to know about it.

Rooney scored as Manchester United made a comeback
Rooney scored as Manchester United made a comeback | Matthew Lewis / Getty Images

David Moyes’ only Boxing Day game as Manchester United boss was unforgettable.

Relegation fighters Hull were the hosts and they took a shock 2-0 lead in 13 minutes thanks to goals from James Chester and David Meyler. United fought back, however, and was tied before the half hour mark, thanks to a header from Chris Smalling and a superb volley from Wayne Rooney. An Antonio Valencia cross in the second half saw Chester heading for his own net as Moyes’ side made the comeback.

It’s also the game that saw Darren Fletcher’s return from ulcerative collitis. Two Christmas miracles in one.

A match that is remembered more for what happened on the pitch at half-time than for what happened on the pitch during the match.

As Man City and Hull faced off at the Etihad Stadium, the day started with the Blues in the relegation zone and the Tigers in the top six. It didn’t play out that way on the pitch as two goals each from Felipe Caicedo and Robinho saw City 4-0 at the break.

This led to manager Phil Brown speaking about his team on the pitch in front of the crowd, where he publicly berated his players. He apologized to the fans after the game for the performance as they fell to a 5-1 loss.

A very recent entry, as these two teams met at the Championship last season.

Stoke took the lead thanks to winger James McClean after just 11 minutes before two goals in seven second-half minutes saw Sheffield Wednesday turn things around thanks to Morgan Fox and Tom Lees.

Stoke then increased the pressure and the Owls collapsed in added time. Tyrese Campbell equalized in the 93rd minute with an acrobatic volley into the box before Sam Vokes struck the winner in the 97th after a scramble for goal. Scenes.

Famous arsenal
Thierry Henry got his first Arsenal hat-trick in this match | Mike Hewitt / Getty Images

A memorable match in 2000 as Arsenal king Thierry Henry secured his first Premier League treble in his 50th appearance in a 6-1 win over a poor Leicester City side.

The Gunners were in the title chase and took the lead thanks to Henry in the 33rd minute, before Leicester changed their system to try and cope. This did not prevent Patrick Vieira from doubling the lead just after half-time. Ade Akinbiyi pulled one off before the Henry show really started.

He turned the defender and slit a left foot through Tim Flowers’ legs before sealing his hat trick after rounding the keeper. Freddie Ljungberg and Tony Adams were also put on the scoresheet in a huge win.

Callum wilson
A Premier League classic between these two teams | Steve Bardens / Getty Images

A crazy yoyo-ing match saw both teams throw leads late to share the points in 2017.

West Ham quickly took the lead thanks to a header from James Collins before Bournemouth responded with goals from Dan Gosling and Nathan Ake. They held the lead until the 81st minute, when Marko Arnautovic jumped on a mistake by Asmir Begovic to equalize. He then scored a second in the 89th minute from close range to snatch the three points… at least that’s what he thought.

Bournemouth hit back once more and controversially secured an equalizer in added time when an offside Callum Wilson deflected the ball into goal via his hand, and the referee canceled his linesman to give the purpose anyway. Total chaos.

Michael Ricketts breaks through Newcastle defense
Michael Ricketts breaks through Newcastle defense | Michael Steele / Getty Images

An absolutely crazy game in the Premier League as Bolton Wanderers edged out Newcastle at Reebok Stadium in 2002.

Jay-Jay Okocha gave the home side the lead with a powerful shot from the edge of the box, before Alan Shearer equalized minutes later. Ricardo Gardner’s stunning free-kick found the top corner to restore Bolton’s lead before a brace from Michael Ricketts made it 4-1 just past the hour mark.

Newcastle fought back, as Shola Ameobi’s deflected strike made it 4-2 before Shearer scored a rocket from 25 yards to worry home fans, but Sam Allardyce’s men held off victory in one game exciting.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s last Boxing Day game was an unforgettable moment as the Red Devils scored another late goal to take all three points.

James Perch gave the Magpies the early lead before Jonny Evans closely equalized. Just three minutes later, Evans deflected a shot into his own net to restore the visitors’ lead. Patrice Evra equalized again for the Reds in the second half with a low drive to the bottom corner, only for Newcastle to regain the lead thanks to Papiss Cisse.

Robin van Persie equalized for United a third time 12 minutes from time before Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez scored the winner in the last minute to seal a memorable victory for the Old Trafford side.

An absolutely ridiculous soccer game, to put it simply.

Aston Villa took the lead at Stamford Bridge through Shaun Maloney before a handling error from Petr Cech saw the Scotsman and Villa double his total. Andriy Shevchenko (remember him?) Pulled one out just before half-time for the Blues, before the Ukrainian scored an absolute howler to equalize.

Shevchenko then secured an assist for Alex to give Chelsea the lead, before Villa returned to level thanks to Martin Laursen’s efforts. Chelsea then regained the lead with a free kick from Michael Ballack with two minutes left, before a handball from Ashley Cole allowed Gareth Barry to equalize on the spot in added time.

What’s better than a crazy Boxing Day game? Well, how about ten crazy Boxing Day matches on the same Boxing Day?

This is what happened in 1963 when 18 teams combined for 66 goals in one game day, including Fulham scoring ten and Blackburn scoring eight. Manchester United were also hit by Burnley, while West Brom and Spurs shared eight goals between them.

It’s a classic graphic that rolls out year after year, but crikey: what a football day.

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