Boxing Day brought several surprises and upsets in the English Premier League, with many of the division's top-ranked teams succumbing to losses. Key among those football clubs were Leicester City and Arsenal, who kept their spots at first and second place on the EPL table, but sacrificed some of their lead margin in defeats against Liverpool and Southampton, respectively. Manchester United also lost, intensifying the conversations that Louis van Gaal's days as the club's manager could be numbered.
A Rough Week
It would be easy to single out Arsenal as the English club that had the worst Boxing Day. Falling 0-4 to Southampton, the Gunners suffered not only the worst loss of the week but also their worst loss of the entire season. Playing an away match, Arsenal saw their struggles with injuries come to a head in the second half. By the mid-game break, the Gunners were only trailing 0-1 and were holding their own in terms of possession.
However, the writing was on the wall early, as Arsenal were forced to sideline seven of their players for medical reasons from the start of the game. With stars like Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck again sitting out, the Gunners simply didn't have enough players to get through the game and conceded three goals in the final half hour.
Bottom line, Arsene Wenger needs the January transfer window to open up so that he can sign some reinforcements. With a fair percentage of his soccer squad injured, Wenger is just barely holding things together at Arsenal. Hopefully, he can make it through the remainder of the EPL festive period without his football club falling apart entirely.
Manchester United's Losing Streak
If Arsenal suffered the worst defeat, though, Manchester United might have been the ones having the worst week overall. The soccer club's Anthony Martial-led offense continues to flounder, with the French youngster failing to hold up under the pressure that has been laid upon him. Also dismal is Memphis Depay, the former PSV Eindhoven standout who is now the latest international player to lose his luster after getting to England.
Losing to Stoke City 0-2, in a game where Stoke scored both their goals in the first half hour, Manchester United sunk to lows the football club hasn't hit since the David Moyes season-and maybe before. The loss was the Red Devils' fourth in a row (including their early December elimination from the Champions League) and the seventh in a row since their last win. For those keeping track, United haven't lost four competitive matches in a row since 1961. No wonder soccer pundits are speculating about a Louis van Gaal exit-either by way of resignation or sacking.
The Rest of the Field
Leicester City also had a tough Boxing Day, falling 0-1 to Liverpool. However, the loss was the team's first since October and didn't hurt them enough to cost them the leading position on the Premier League table. Compared to the likes of Arsenal and especially Man United, the day after Christmas was just a slight hiccup in what has been a splendid football season at Leicester.
Of the Premier League's top teams, Manchester City definitely had the best day on December 26th. Donning the Manchester City home jersey 2015/16 for a home match against Sunderland, the Sky Blues scored a 4-1 victory that saw goals for Raheem Sterling, Yaya Toure, Wilfried Bony, and Kevin DeBruyne. Even with Sergio Aguero on the bench, following a brief heel injury spell, Man City still looked formidable. Leicester might be leading the way at the moment, but the Sky Blues may well still be the title frontrunners.
Elsewhere, Chelsea's second match under the management of Guus Hiddink also brought a second consecutive non-loss, with a 2-2 draw against Watford. While not a win, the fixture showed some signs of life for the Blues-particularly Diego Costa, who scored both of Chelsea's goals.
Tottenham Hotspur had a great week of their own, with Harry Kane scoring two goals en route to a 3-0 win over Norwich City. And the bottom-ranked Aston Villa got a slight reprieve for the holidays, avoiding a loss in favor of a 1-1 draw with West Ham United. For the once-promising West Ham team, though, the game marked a fifth Premier League draw in a row.
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