The festive period is officially upon us as all 20 clubs get set for the season’s busiest period.
While other leagues around Europe shut down for Christmas, the Premier League gives us the gift of four rounds of matches in just 12 days.
Squads will be stretched, fatigue will kick in and there are some cracking contests in store.
Here’s a look at what to expect on Matchday 17:
|Liverpool vs. Cardiff||Dec. 21||12:45 p.m. GMT/7:45 a.m. ET||3-1|
|Sunderland vs. Norwich||Dec. 21||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||2-1|
|Crystal Palace vs. Newcastle||Dec. 21||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||1-1|
|Man United vs. West Ham||Dec. 21||3 p.m. GMT/ 10 a.m. ET||3-1|
|Fulham vs. Man City||Dec. 21||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||1-2|
|Stoke vs. Aston Villa||Dec. 21||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||2-2|
|West Brom vs. Hull City||Dec. 21||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||1-1|
|Southampton vs. Tottenham||Dec. 22||1:30 p.m. GMT/8:30 a.m. ET||2-1|
|Swansea vs. Everton||Dec. 22||4 p.m. GMT/11 a.m. ET||2-2|
|Arsenal vs. Chelsea||Dec. 23||8 p.m. GMT/3 p.m. ET||2-2|
Schedule via PremierLeague.com
Live Stream Info
BT Sport subscribers can view Liverpool vs. Cardiff via the BT Sport app.
UK viewers can watch Sky Sports’ live games—Southampton vs. Tottenham, Swansea vs. Everton and Arsenal vs. Chelsea—on the Sky Player website or via SkyGo for laptops and mobile devices (subscription required). Live scores are also provided on Sky Sports News throughout each match.
All highlights are available without the need for subscription on Match of the Day (BBC One, Saturday) or Match of the Day 2 (BBC2, Sunday). Both can be found on BBC iPlayer Monday.
Battle For Christmas No. 1
“Will Arsenal be top on Christmas day?” That’s the big question ahead of this weekend’s action.
The Gunners currently sit top on 35 points with Liverpool and Chelsea within touching distance in second and third.
2 - The last two clubs to be top of the PL at Xmas and fail to win the title were Arsenal in 07-08 and Liverpool in 08-09. Patience.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 16, 2013
Liverpool can put pressure on the league leaders in Saturday’s opening game. Luis Suarez and Co. entertain Cardiff at Anfield in the 12:45 p.m. GMT kick-off and three points would see them surpass Arsenal in the table.
The Uruguayan has looked unstoppable of late and, in the absence of Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge, the Reds will turn to him again for inspiration against the Bluebirds.
Of Suarez’s 17 goals this season, 13 have come on Merseyside.
17 - Luis Suarez has scored more goals than 10 of the 20 Premier League teams this season. Relentless.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 15, 2013
Matchday 17’s blockbuster clash comes Monday night when Arsenal host city rivals Chelsea at the Emirates.
5 - Jose Mourinho will be the 5th different Chelsea manager Arsene Wenger will have faced in the last 6 Arsenal v Chelsea fixtures. Hotseat— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 17, 2013
Arsene Wenger will be without the services of Jack Wilshere and Laurent Koscielny. The former was slapped with a two-match ban for his one-finger salute to Man City fans last weekend, and the latter is likely out until Boxing Day—per Charles Perrin in the Express—after picking up a nasty gash on his knee in the same game.
Chelsea could also be in top spot come Christmas Day if they defeat Arsenal and Liverpool fail to pick up all three points at home to Cardiff.
The Blues got the better of Arsenal in both fixtures last season and Jose Mourinho will be hoping for more of the same this time around.
Man City will be hoping to avoid a fifth defeat away from home this campaign when they travel to London to take on Fulham.
Manuel Pellegrini could be without the services of star man Sergio Aguero for up to eight weeks, according to BBC Sport.
The only other time the Chilean boss had to make do without the Argentine was on Matchday 6 when the Citizens lost 3-2 away to Aston Villa after squandering a whole host of chances.
Manchester United will be looking to return some festive cheer to Old Trafford having lost their last two league games at home.
West Ham’s last victory at the Theatre of Dreams came seven seasons ago when Carlos Tevez scored for the visitors, a goal which ultimately saved the Hammers from relegation.
How Sam Allardyce could with a striker like Tevez now, or any striker for that matter. The former Bolton boss will once more be without the services of Andy Carroll while his opposite number will have to make do without long-term absentees Michael Carrick and Robin van Persie.
Managerless Tottenham will be hoping to bounce back from their 5-0 home defeat to Liverpool, which cost manager Andre Villas-Boas his job.
0 - This was the first time since Opta started full collection in 2006/07 that Spurs have failed to have a shot on target at home. Bleak.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 15, 2013
Things won’t get much easier for Spurs this weekend, however, as they head south to take on Southampton, who have strung together back-to-back draws after a tough period, which saw them play Arsenal, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Man City and Newcastle.
High fliers Everton, the only team to have lost just once this year, will be hoping for all three points away to the inconsistent Swansea.
Who will be top of the table on Christmas Day?
The Toffees could climb into the Champions League places for Christmas if they pick up a win and other results go their way.
At the other end of the table, Sunderland host Norwich in a must-win encounter for the home side. Gus Poyet’s team have showed signs of improvement in recent weeks but they need to start converting their form into points.
Elsewhere, Crystal Palace host Newcastle, Villa travel to Stoke and West Bromwich Albion entertain Hull City.