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Top games to watch on Dec. 24-30, 2021

Man City vs Leicester and O Clássico headline top live games to watch on December 24-30, 2021

December 24, 2021 By Ali M.
Man City vs Leicester, Aston Villa vs Chelsea, Arsenal vs Wolves, Brentford vs Man City, and Porto vs Benfica comprise our list of top matches to watch during the festive period.

Top games to watch this week

Saturday, December 25

Kasimpasa vs Altay (Super Lig)

Galatasaray vs Antalyaspor (Super Lig)

Giresunspor vs Hatayspor (Super Lig)

Trabzonspor vs Istanbul Basaksehir (Super Lig)

Sunday, December 26

Norwich vs Arsenal (English Premier League)

West Ham vs Southampton (English Premier League)

Man City vs Leicester City (English Premier League)

Tottenham vs Crystal Palace (English Premier League)

Aston Villa vs Chelsea (English Premier League)

Brighton vs Brentford (English Premier League)

Monday, December 27

Newcastle vs Manchester United (English Premier League)

Konyaspor vs Besiktas (Super Lig)

Derby County vs West Brom (English Championship)

Queens Park Rangers vs Bournemouth (English Championship)

Tuesday, December 28

Arsenal vs Wolves (English Premier League)

Watford vs West Ham (English Premier League)

Southampton vs Tottenham (English Premier League)

Leeds vs Aston Villa (English Premier League)

Leicester vs Liverpool (English Premier League)

Galatasaray vs Denizlispor (Turkish Cup)

Wednesday, December 29

Chelsea vs Brighton (English Premier League)

Brentford vs Man City (English Premier League)

Sporting CP vs Portimonense (Primeira Liga)

Fenerbahce vs Afjet Afyonspor (Turkish Cup)

Thursday, December 30

Everton vs Newcastle (English Premier League)

Manchester United vs Burnley (English Premier League)

Arouca vs Sporting Braga (Primeira Liga)

Porto vs Benfica (Primeira Liga)

Besiktas vs Altay (Turkish Cup)

Most-watched soccer games on U.S. TV: Dec. 14-20, 2021

Three English Premier League broadcasts were the most-watched soccer games on U.S. TV from Tuesday, Dec. 14, through Monday, Dec. 20.

NBC's Premier League broadcast of Arsenal's 4-1 away win at Leeds on Saturday, Dec. 18 averaged 837,000 viewers, making it the most-watched soccer game on U.S. TV last week. The scoring was shared amongst three of Arsenal's top young prospects in Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe. Martinelli scored a brace early in the first half to give the Gunners a comfortable cushion, and Smith Rowe secured the win with an 84th minute goal off the bench. Saturday's victory against Leeds was the Gunners' third in a row, and now they sit six points behind London rivals Chelsea in fourth place.

USA Network's broadcast of a goalless draw between Wolverhampton and Chelsea on Sunday, Dec. 19, was the second most-watched soccer game in American television. The match garnered an average of 337,000 viewers and landed a 0.22 viewership rating. 

Arsenal made it twice into the top three list of most-watched soccer games on U.S. TV. The north London giants' 2-0 win against West Ham united on Wednesday, Dec. 15, was NBC Sports Network's most-watched games of the week, attracting 286,000 average viewers. Martinelli and Smith Rowe scored the two goals that separated the Gunners from the Hammers.

Most Watched Games, USA, December 14, 20, Arsenal, Leeds, Wolves, Chelsea, West Ham, English Premier League

Top games to watch this week

Man City vs Leicester on Boxing Day at 10 a.m. ET live exclusively on Peacock

Despite the increase in COVID-19 cases in the Premier League, the always-exciting Boxing Day fixtures will go ahead. A few games have been postponed, namely Liverpool's clash with Leeds, but fans will be treated to an interesting clash in the form of Man City vs Leicester. The Cityzens have been on a roll as of late and will be keen on maintaining that, having won eight in a row in the Premier League. Leicester, on the other hand, resume their English top-flight action after missing a few games due to a coronavirus outbreak in their camp. Their most recent outing was a disappointing Carabao Cup quarterfinal defeat at Anfield, with Brendan Rodgers' men throwing away a 3-1 lead to lose to Liverpool on penalties. Can the Foxes bounce back at the Etihad Stadium? Don't miss this fixture!

Manchester City, Leicester, English Premier League, Broadcast Listings

Aston Villa vs Chelsea on Boxing Day at 12:30 p.m. ET live on NBC Sports, Telemundo, Universo, NBC USA, Peacock, fuboTV, and Sling TV

Another interesting Boxing Day fixture set to take place – as things currently stand – is Aston Villa vs Chelsea. The home side have been nothing short of excellent since appointing Steven Gerrard as their head coach, with the Birmingham club winning every single game under their new boss bar their defeats against Man City and Liverpool. However, they face a Chelsea side with a point to prove, having won only once in their last four Premier League outings (D2, L1). As a result, the Blues find themselves six points behind league leaders Man City and will need to bounce back sooner rather than later. Tuchel's men secured a confidence-boosting Carabao Cup quarterfinal victory over Brentford during the midweek and will be aiming to add Ollie Watkins and Co. to their list of victims.

Aston Villa, Chelsea, English Premier League, Broadcast Listings

Porto vs Benfica this Thursday at 4 p.m. ET live on GOLTV, Fanatiz, and fuboTV

The final Primeira Liga fixture in 2021 could not have been any sweeter! Porto and Benfica will draw the curtain on this calendar year in the always-exciting O Clássico, with both sides aiming to head into the New Year on the back of a win over a bitter rival. In fact, these two Portuguese powerhouses will face off at the Estádio do Dragão in back-to-back fixtures, having locked horns on Thursday in the Taca de Portugal. The Dragons won that encounter in convincing fashion, beating the Eagles 3-0 thanks to a brace from Evanilson and an additional goal from Ferreira. Given that Jorge Jesus' side sit four points behind league leaders Porto, Benfica are fully aware that they cannot afford another slip-up. Will the visitors get revenge or will Sérgio Conceição's side make it back-to-back O Clássico wins in one week? Tune in to find out!

This week in women's football, December 24, December 30, A-League Women, FA Women's Super League, Liga Iberdrola, Division 1 Arkema, Serie A Women 

The A-League Women, Australia's top flight women's football league, will be the only women's football league that will play throughout the holidays. All other leagues will be on break until the new year.

The FA Women's Super League and Liga Iberdrola will be back in the first weekend of 2022 (Jan. 7-9). On the other hand, Division 1 Arkema and Serie A Women will return in the second week of the year (Jan. 14-16) and the Frauen Bundesliga is set to resume in February.

Biggest stories of the week

Spurs crash out of Europa Conference League after "forfeiting" Rennes tie, setting unwanted record

The Chairman of the UEFA Appeals Body has ruled that the Premier League side Tottenham have forfeited their postponed showdown with Rennes in the UEFA Europa Conference League, resulting in a 3-0 defeat being award to Spurs. That loss means they are now officially out of the competition.

This whole dilemma stems from Tottenham's sixth and final Europa Conference League group-stage fixture, with Harry Kane and Co. needing to beat Rennes in order to qualify for the knockout round playoffs. Unfortunately, that game did not take place as the match was called off despite the French side having already made the trip to London. 

The reason was understandable, however. A COVID-19 outbreak had occurred in Conte's camp, hence the postponement, as Tottenham were also unable to play their subsequent Premier League tie. Regardless, Rennes rejected the alternative dates proposed for this pending fixture, thus resulting in Tottenham's forfeit and subsequent elimination from the tournament as this leaves them third in their group.

And to add insult to injury, Spurs have set an unwanted record along the way. As brought up by Richard Jolly, a journalist for the National, the Guardian, and the Independent, the north London side have become the first English club in history to be knocked out of the European Cup, Champions League, Cup Winners' Cup, UEFA Cup, Europa League, Intertoto Cup and Europa Conference League.

Premier League issue fixtures statement amid Covid-19 crisis

Premier League and EFL clubs have agreed to make the festive fixtures go ahead as planned despite the ongoing Covid-19 disruption. This decision comes despite a record 90 positive tests being returned after 12,345 tests were administered on players and club staff.

On Monday, the 20 Premier League clubs met to revise the fixture schedule after six games were postponed this weekend. Due to the fact that there was no vote, two sets of fixtures are expected to be played over five days, starting from December 26th. 

The statement issued reads as follows: "It was confirmed at a Premier League club meeting today that while recognizing a number of clubs are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and challenges, it is the League's collective intention to continue the current fixture schedule where safely possible. The health and wellbeing of all concerned remains our priority and the League will continue to monitor and reflect public health guidance, always proceeding with caution.

Sergio Ramos signs off 2021 on bad note with red card for PSG

It's safe to say that Sergio Ramos hasn't had the career he - and his fans - had expected since leaving Real Madrid for PSG. The 35-year-old defender has struggled for form and fitness since arriving, and indeed, has only been restricted to a handful of appearances for his new club.

On Wednesday, Ramos featured for only the third time for Les Parisiens, coming on a second-half substitute as PSG were looking to find a way back into the game against Lorient. Mauricio Pochettino's men had fallen a goal behind and desperately needed to find a way to both block their opponent's attacks while somehow finding a way to claw a goal back.

Well, in the span of just five minutes, Ramos received two quick yellows in succession. It marks his first for PSG, and his 27th red card overall in his career - making him the most expelled player of the 21st century.

However, it all wasn't in vain, perhaps, as Mauro Icardi - who has been linked with a move back to Italy - grabbed a late goal to spare PSG's blushes and ensure that they avoided suffering what would have been a rather embarrassing loss to wrap up 2021. 

Inter announce 'mutual termination' of Christian Eriksen contract

Earlier this year, Denmark faced a nightmare situation when star man Christian Eriksen suddenly collapsed on the pitch during the EURO 2020 tournament. Fortunately, the former Tottenham man was able to revived and is now well on the way to recovery. However, his time with Inter has come to an unfortunate end.

Eriksen, who has been out since his surgery, which required the installment of a cardioverter-defibrillator, will not be allowed to play for the Nerazzuri. This is because Serie A bans players with these kind of installed heart devices from training, let along playing, for any of their teams due to fears that any kind of contact could damage the device - and lead to serious or fatal consequences for the player.

As a result, Inter announced that they and Eriksen's entourage had come to a mutual understanding to terminate his contract. The 29-year-old Danish star will be certainly free to continue playing elsewhere, including in the Premier League as well as back home in his native Denmark should he choose to do so.

During his two seasons at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Eriksen made 60 appearances for the current Scudetto holders, while scoring eight goals. 

As per reports from Italy, namely Tuttosport, Inter will be hoping to host an event in early 2022 to allow fans to officially wish Eriksen well and to thank the player for his contributions to the club.

Other key headlines from the world of football 

TRANSFER: Barcelona agree $62m deal to sign Man City's Torres

Barcelona have already started making big plans for 2022. And one area they're looking to improve is in attack. Despite their financial woes, the Blaugrana have now opened the checkbook to splash over $60 million on a new acquisition.

Specifically, they've spent $62 million (€55 million/£47 million) to bring in Manchester City's Ferran Torres. Despite not playing since September following a foot injury, Torres, whose brace for Spain ended Italy's 30-plus match unbeaten streak and dumped the Azzurri out of the Nations League, will be returning to his homeland in January. 

Given that he doesn't come cheap, Barcelona are expected to offload quite a bit of fringe players during this winter's transfer window. Torres is expected to help fill the void left behind by Sergio Aguero, who was unable to make his mark at the Camp Nou due to a recently discovered heart condition.

PSG star could be on the move in January due to reported issues with Messi

Reports in Italy have claimed that Juventus have earmarked finding a new striker as a top priority. According to Tuttosport, one player they've identified is Mauro Icardi. The Argentinian striker currently plies his trade at PSG but is no stranger to Serie A, having played for Sampdoria, followed by Inter, prior to moving to PSG on loan in 2019 and permanently in 2020.

Despite a solid goal-scoring record, which saw him score 124 goals in 219 appearances for the Nerazzurri, Icardi has struggled to hit the same heights in the French capital. Things have only gotten worse with the arrival of Lionel Messi, as the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner apparently has a bit of an issue with Icardi stemming from the latter's relationship and marriage to Wanda Nara, who is the ex-wife of Messi's friend Maxi Lopez.

In a team featuring Messi, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappe, it's no surprise that Icardi has found playing time hard to come by. To date, he's netted just three goals and made less than 20 appearances across all comps, so a move back to Italy just may be on the cards. 

Aubameyang excluded from first-team training for rest of the year as Arsenal eye January sale

According to the Daily Mail, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will not be allowed to train with the other first-team players for the remainder of this calendar year. Instead, the striker will work on his fitness alone and away from the rest of the group until he heads off to join his national team for the Africa Cup of Nations later this month.

The Gabonese star's absence is not a strike, nor is it an exile issued by Mikel Arteta in retaliation for his latest disciplinary issue. Instead, sources claim that it is a mutual decision made by both parties. However, it casts a huge doubt over his Arsenal future nonetheless.

Given that the upcoming AFCON tournament will carry on until early February, the Gabonese ace might never play for the Gunners again should his nation go far in the competition. This is because Arsenal are open to selling their highest-paid player this January. However, a summer exit appears likelier. Whether a club would be willing to pay his high wages remains unclear though. Fortunately for the Gunners, they have been on the hunt for a new striker for quite some time, with Lacazette and Nketiah also tipped to leave this summer, hence the links with Everton's Calvert-Lewin and Fiorentina's Vlahovic.


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