Games to Watch: Premier League feast from Boxing Day through New Year's
English soccer commands the spotlight during the final week of December. While Europe's other major leagues take a winter break, the Premier League and lower divisions offer a feast of action.
From Boxing Day through New Year's Day, there are three full rounds of matches in the Premier League. All but two teams play on both December 26 and 28, and everybody plays on January 1. NBC's television and streaming schedule is available here.
You can also check out some games from the second-tier Championship on beIN Sports. The matchups include former Premier League regulars such as Birmingham City and Middlesbrough. Check out the schedule here.
These are my picks for the best action over the next seven days:
West Ham United at Chelsea
7:45 a.m. Friday (NBCSN, mun2)
Boxing Day kicks off with an old-school London rivalry that features two of the Premier League's top four teams. It's no surprise that Diego Costa and Chelsea are atop the table, but it's stunning to see towering striker Andy Carroll's West Ham in fourth place.
Queens Park Rangers at Arsenal
12:30 p.m. Friday (NBCSN, mun2)
This London Derby puts the spotlight on two of the Premier League's leading scorers. Alexis Sánchez's Arsenal choked away a win at Liverpool last weekend by giving up the tying goal in the 97th minute. QPR is barely above the relegation zone, but Charlie Austin is the EPL's third-best scorer with 11 goals this season.
Manchester United at Tottenham Hotspur
7:00 a.m. Sunday (NBCSN, mun2)
If you're able to wake up early for this game, you're likely to see a lot of scoring. Both teams have potent attacks, highlighted by United's Wayne Rooney and Spurs rising star Harry Kane. But in fairness, both teams also have mediocre defenses. Then again, aren't goals what we tune in to see?
Chelsea at Southampton
9:05 a.m. Sunday (NBCSN)
Southampton continues to impress, holding on to fifth place heading into this weekend. Graziano Pellè has one of the Premier League's best names, best hairdos and best goal totals, with eight in 17 games. The Saints' defense is led by Ryan Bertrand, who's on loan from Chelsea and could be making a permanent move soon.
Premier League Breakaway
10:00 a.m. Thursday (NBCSN)
On New Year's Day, NBCSN is going to do things a bit differently from how they usually do. With eight of the 10 games kicking off at the same hour, NBCSN will air Red Zone-style whip-around coverage of all of them. Among the big matchups are Sunderland at Manchester City and Arsenal at Southampton.
In the other games Thursday, U.S. national team defender Geoff Cameron's Stoke City hosts Manchester United (7:45 a.m., NBCSN) and Tottenham hosts Chelsea (12:30 p.m., NBCSN and Telemundo).