Football Features

Ducks broken everywhere – Seven things you might have missed from the Premier League’s Boxing Day action

By Harry Edwards

Published: 19:27, 26 December 2023

After a gruelling one day away, the Premier League returned to festive action with five fixtures on Boxing Day.

Boxing Day football is a tradition in English football and while the day is no longer packed with matches in the top flight (spread out over a few days instead) it can still be hard to follow along.

On top of a couple of games played at the same time, it might be impossible to guarantee yourself a spot in front of the screen(s) for Amazon Prime‘s coverage, with familial commitments and some relatives who insist on a Boxing Day walk — or even a trip to the shops for the sales!

So, you can be forgiven for missing some of the action across the day. And that’s where we come in, picking out the best stats and stories from the Premier League’s action on Boxing Day 2023.

A Premier League first for Forest

The early kickoff saw Newcastle United hosting Nottingham Forest, hoping to find their feet after a tricky period. Having beat Chelsea and Man Utd either side of an unlucky draw with PSG, Newcastle had lost five of their six seven games, including a penalty-shootout defeat to Chelsea in the EFL Cup. Well, now that is six in seven, as Forest left St James’ Park with all three points.

Newcastle took the lead in the game from the penalty spot and will have been confident, having never lost to Forest in the Premier League. Well, there’s a first time for everything and three goals inside 15 match minutes (either side of half-time) saw Forest turn things around to claim their maiden Premier League victory over the Magpies. The first win of the Nuno Espirito Santo era, Forest will be looking to build on that as they fight for safety.

Newcastle’s Christmas hangover

For those who celebrate Christmas, Boxing Day can often be a day for recovery. You’ve perhaps eaten too much, drunk too much, or both, so it’s nice to settling in an armchair to watch the football. Unfortunately for Newcastle’s players, whatever they do on Christmas Day, they aren’t given a chance to recover.

The Magpies’ defeat to Forest this year was the 16th time they have lost a Premier League Boxing Day fixture, more than any other side in the competition’s history. Of course, football didn’t start in 1992, but Newcastle also hold the record for Boxing Day defeats in English league history, with 47 in total.

Newcastle have now lost 16 Premier League Boxing Day fixtures – the outright most of any side. Furthermore, it was the Magpies’ 47th such defeat in English league history, which is also the all-time most by any club.

Chris Wood joins exclusive club

All three of Forest’s goals against Newcastle were scored by Chris Wood, with the Kiwi striker bagging a hat-trick against his former club. Wood is the seventh different player to score a hat-trick in the Premier League on Boxing Day, ending a six-year wait since the last one when Harry Kane put three past Southampton 2017.

Also on the list for Boxing Day hat-trick scorers are Thierry Henry, Kevin Phillips, Robbie Fowler, Dimitar Berbatov and Harry Kane.

A long wait over for Bournemouth

“We’ve got a penalty” sung the Bournemouth fans after Joao Palhinha brought Antoine Semenyo down inside the box in the second half of their game against Fulham. That might sound a little cringeworthy, but you can’t begrudge the sarcasm-filled chants.

Before Boxing Day, you have to go back to April 26, 2022 for the last time Bournemouth were awarded a penalty, against Swansea City in the Championship — their second in as many games. In the Premier League, Bournemouth’s last penalty came July 26, 2020, when Josh King converted against Everton in a 3-1 win.

Dominic Solanke was the man to score from the spot against Swansea in the Championship and of course he was the one to step up on Boxing Day, cheered on by Bournemouth fans and so many Fantasy Premier League managers. Boosted by his hat-trick at the weekend, there was no doubt about Solanke scoring, with the Englishman sending Bernd Leno the wrong way. To be fair to Leno, there weren’t any recent instances to use for research!

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Sheffield United their own worst enemies

For the first time since May 8, 1993, Sheffield United scored four goals in a Premier League games, beating Chelsea 4-2 on that date over 30 years ago. Unfortunately for the Blades, this time around two of those goals were in their own net, as they condemned themselves to a 3-2 loss at home to Luton Town.

A relegation six-pointer, Sheffield United went into this game bottom of the table, three points behind Luton, knowing that while a victory would still keep them below the Hatters it would have massively boosted their chances of safety. It wasn’t the greatest of starts for the Blades, as they went into half-time 1-0 down thanks to Alfie Doughty’s goal, but they looked to have turned things around, leading 2-1 with just over 20 minutes left.

And then Sheffield United’s belated Christmas charity came into play. First it was Jack Robinson heading the ball into his own net after Carlton Morris’ across into the box, and it was a similar story for the second as Morris’ attempted pass as deflected in off Anis Ben Slimane.

A long wait is over

Darwin Nunez has become a bit of a mocking point for rival fans when it comes to Liverpool, with the Uruguayan forward going 12 games without a goal across all competitions. He’s often used as an agent of chaos for Liverpool, and his presence can be both a nightmare for his opponents and beneficial to Jurgen Klopp’s cause.

But, of course, this is football and for a striker goals are all that matters in the eyes of opposition fans. Fortunately for Nunez, he finally got the goal his perseverance and performances deserved, netting the opening goal for Liverpool against Burnley. It was a fine finish too, placed perfectly into the bottom right corner of the net, just out of reach of James Trafford.

Nunez’s fifth league goal of the season, Liverpool fans will be hoping he can build on the strike, as they prepare to lose Mohamed Salah to the Africa Cup of Nations.

Jurgen Klopp’s Boxing Day joy

While Newcastle hate Boxing Day matches, Jurgen Klopp must wish it could be December 26th every day. Since moving to the Premier League, Klopp has won all six of his games on Boxing Day, the best 100% record in the competition — moving one win clear of Mauricio Pochettino who has won five from five. The aggregate score on the day stands at 19-1, with Ollie Watkins the only player to score past Liverpool, last season.