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English Premier League: Boxing Day Fixtures and Managers' Comments

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Boxing Day- a day set aside to unwrap gifts that people got on Christmas Day, it is also a day that we get thrilled with the best set of matches in the English Premier League.

This is what makes the Premier League unique, the mere fact that all over the world people tune in to watch matches, shows the global appeal that the league has.

Virtually all the top leagues are on holidays, but in England, this is when a lot of matches are crammed in within a short time.

To the spectators, it is a beauty to behold, however the players would rather be somewhere else at this time.

Truth be told, games on such days occupies people, it is being eagerly anticipated for a long time.

Those in the United Kingdom take families to go watch games on such days, and it comes at a premium price because everybody wants a slice of the pie so to say(watch the live matches)

And for the people all over the world, they sit in front of their tv sets and watch the Premier League.

It is the top tv show on offer for the day, and organisers rake in huge sums in broadcasting rights.

Pubs, match-centres are always filled on such days and one cannot deny that knowing you have games to watch between a two-day mark this period, all but adds to the allure of the Premier League. 

So as is customary, we have compiled the press conferences of the top coaches in relation to their matches today.

Arsenal :
The Gunners will play their first of two London derbies in quick succession starting with the game against Queens Park Rangers.

And Arsene Wenger has nothing but praise for Charlie Austin who is in the form of his life, netting a hat-trick in their last game against West Brom.

"It's good to see that an English striker who had played in lower divisions has managed to come up," said Wenger.

"That shows mental strength and tenacity - and that is important at the top level."

And Wenger believes others can learn from Austin, who moved up from the lower ranks. 

"It could bring on the idea that there could be other players down there who are good enough to come up to the Premier League but don't get a chance," said the Frenchman.

Speaking about the fixtures they have to negotiate this period, Wenger said: "It's a tough schedule."

The Blues will host the high flying West Ham at Stamford Bridge, looking to consolidate on their winning streak.

But they will also have tough fixtures against Southampton and Tottenham within six days.

And Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho admits that: "It's very difficult," he said. 

"I have lots of respect for the players in this country. It doesn't matter - English or not English. The moment you are a football player in this country, I respect you a lot.

"At this moment the German guys are on the beach, the Spanish guys are in the Maldives getting sun - everybody else is doing that.

"But in this country you play on the 22nd, you play on Boxing Day, you play on the 28th, you play on New Year's Day. There is no Christmas - just football, and I think (the players) deserve respect.

"The supporters all around the country give them that respect because every stadium is sold-out. And I think the way to do it is with the kind of professionalism my players have shown."

On their win against Stoke City on Monday, he further told chelseafc.com: "We knew we needed a reaction after the Newcastle game and, with Man City playing so well, getting results and breathing down our necks, we know we have to keep our foot down.

"It's fantastic to be top of the league at this stage but we know there's plenty of hard work to come. We'll enjoy our Christmas though."

Liverpool came was close to being defeated before snatching a 2-2 draw against Arsenal last weekend after Martin Skrtel powered in an equaliser.

And Brendan Rodgers is hoping that they can build on that in their game against Burnley.

"The goal and the performance can help turn things around because there has been a lot of criticism of us and I hope it will change and be better in the second half of the season," said the Reds boss.

On the possibility of signing new players in the coming transfer window: "If there is a possibility that we can strengthen in January, we will look at that," Rodgers said.

"There will always be speculation, but I won't comment on any players."

He also insisted that Brad Jones will remain in goal while Simon Mignolet remains dropped.

"Brad is in the team at the moment and has done well," Rodgers added. "He is consistent right the way through. You need your number two goalkeeper to be loyal and work well when he comes in."

Manchester City:
Earlier this week Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini took a swipe at Mourinho, saying that the league is not won in December. 

He however denied that they are thinking about Chelsea who are just three points above them.

"We are not thinking about Chelsea," Pellegrini told a news conference on Tuesday. "We are just thinking about our team.

"We know it is important to have our own pressure. You never win the title in December.

"We have a long five months to continue playing as well as we are doing so far and we will see at the end of the season which team has most points."

The Chilean refuted suggestions that recent successes in the league makes them the favourites.

"It is always hard to win, the first time and the second time," Pellegrini said. 

"I think there is the same degree of difficulty from one year to another.

"We have the players in a high level of performance. We are trusting what we do, so in the same way we played poorly two months ago, we are now doing very well."

Manchester United:

Unlike in the past, United were allowed the luxury to spend Christmas holidays with their families on Thursday.

United coach Louis Van Gaal while defending his reason for giving them the time off, said spending Christmas with their families will help them mentally prepare for the game against Newcastle. 

“I have changed that, I have given them free time and Christmas day with the family.

"We shall come together the next day here at our Aon Training Complex. Then we will have all of the meetings like we have done all season.

“I believe in a total human being so the environment is also important. I think they are more pleased to be at home with their wives and children.

"I hope they shall give everything to beat the opponent then.”

“When you are a national team coach then you don’t have to do anything at Christmas because in the Netherlands the players are also free and have holiday,” said van Gaal.

“But here we play football and that is also nice.”

Van Gaal also had some choice words for former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, whom he said has been supporting him.

"It's fantastic," said van Gaal. "When you come to Manchester United, because I know Sir Alex, you hope that he will support you.

"And when he is supporting you, he is doing that not only this week but in other conferences he gave.

"He showed a lot of confidence and belief in me and you need that as a trainer-coach, as manager of Manchester United.

"You need that belief and support of managers like Sir Alex. I am very happy with that because then you can work more easily.

"But it's also pressure because he believes in you and that gives you that pressure that you have to get results. It's not so easy to win Premier League matches."

26 December 2014 - Premier League Fixtures :
Chelsea vs West Ham 1:45
Burnley vs Liverpool 4:00
Crystal Palace vs Southampton 4:00
Everton vs Stoke 4:00
Leicester vs Tottenham 4:00
Man Utd vs Newcastle 4:00
Sunderland vs Hull 4:00
Swansea vs Aston Villa 4:00
West Brom vs Man City 4:00
Arsenal vs QPR 6:30