Boxing Day viewer's guide: All 10 English Premier League games
The congested part of the winter English Premier League schedule kicks off Saturday, with 10 Boxing Day fixtures beginning a stretch of four games in 18 days for all 20 of the league's teams.
While there are no real rivalry games or matches between traditional powerhouses, there's plenty to whet the appetite. Manager Louis van Gaal remains under fire at Manchester United, as each dropped point and hasty press conference suggests an exit is imminent. Leicester City aims to keep its surprising stranglehold on first place into the new year, but it must overcome a test at Liverpool to prevent opening the door for Arsenal to seize the top spot.
Here's a guide on how to watch all 10 matches over the course of the quadruple header (all times Eastern) and what to look for:
Stoke City vs. Manchester United (7:45 a.m., NBCSN)
The pressure is as high as it's been on van Gaal, and he needs to guide the Red Devils to three points on the road to quell the noise and the speculation that Mourinho is going to take his seat in the United dugout. Getting those points at Stoke won't be easy, even though Mark Hughes's squad is coming off a home loss to Crystal Palace.
Stoke is likely to be without U.S. international Geoff Cameron, who is nursing a hamstring injury.
Liverpool vs. Leicester City (10 a.m., NBCSN)
The game of the day, first-place Leicester will have its mettle tested yet again by another one of the more traditional Premier League powers. Jurgen Klopp's Reds host Claudio Ranieri's Foxes, but after some early success with Klopp at the helm, Liverpool hasn't won in four straight in all competitions and has dropped to ninth place.
How will each approach the game? Conveniently, our Liviu Bird has broken down both teams:
Bournemouth vs. Crystal Palace (10 a.m., NBC Sports Live Extra stream)
Bournemouth hasn't lost in five matches, while Palace is threatening to break into the Champions League places. Just like we all expected in August.
Tottenham vs. Norwich City (10 a.m., NBC Sports Live Extra stream)
Only one team, Leicester (1) has fewer losses than Tottenham (2), and Spurs have to be liking their chances at White Hart Lane, with the chance to potentially break into the top three of the table. Norwich will bring confidence into this road match after taking three points at Old Trafford last weekend, though.
Manchester City vs. Sunderland (10 a.m., NBC Sports Live Extra stream)
As rumors swirl that Pep Guardiola is going to take the reins next season, current manager Manuel Pellegrini looks to bring City back to the win column against the Black Cats. When they met in the League Cup, City overwhelmed Sunderland 4-1 at the Stadium of Light. This one takes place at the Etihad.
Chelsea vs. Watford (10 a.m., USA)
Hiddink makes his return to the Chelsea sideline after the club began post-Mourinho life with a 3-1 win over Sunderland. Watford has been one of the surprises of the season, riding a four-game winning streak to pull within one point of the Champions League places. Chelsea, meanwhile, aims to gain more separation from the relegation pack in the midst of its atrocious title defense.
Swansea vs. West Brom (10 a.m., NBC Sports Live Extra stream)
Is Marcelo Bielsa coming to save the Swans? At 0-5-2 in their last seven games, they're in need of an injection of new ideas and energy, which Bielsea has in bulk. In order to entertain the idea of getting out of the drop zone, Swansea will need to beat a West Brom team that's winless in four (three of those being draws, though).
Aston Villa vs. West Ham (10 a.m., NBC Sports Live Extra stream)
Both teams carry lengthy league winless runs into this clash at Villa Park. Aston Villa's stands at 16 (the club hasn't won an EPL game since opening day), while West Ham's streak is at seven without a three-point haul.
Newcastle vs. Everton (12:30 p.m., NBC)
The Magpies have earned seven points from their last three games, including wins over Liverpool and Tottenham, as they attempt to climb out of the drop zone. Conversely, Everton has just three points in its last four games and has been leaking goals, something that U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard will look to rectify away from Goodison Park.
Southampton vs. Arsenal (2:45 p.m., NBC)
The Saints and Gunners finish off the day's marathon at St. Mary's, where Southampton tamed Arsenal 2-0 to open 2015 on New Year's Day. Arsenal is riding a wave of momentum, though, after qualifying for the Champions League knockout stage and then knocking off Manchester City in league play, rounding into form despite the loss of Alexis Sanchez to a hamstring injury.