The festive season for the Premier League kicked off today with Liverpool taking on Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Molineux. This will be the final time the congested holiday fixture list occurs as the Premier League announced the implementation of a winter break, being the last major soccer league to do so.
The match finished 2-0 to Liverpool (highlights can be found here) after Virgil Van Dijk scored a second half brace to secure victory for the Reds.
The first half was open with both sides producing quality chances to score, but it was Mo Salah who opened the scoring in the 18th minute. Wolverhampton responded by applying pressure of their own, but Adama Traore and Raúl Jimenez spurned chances to equalize and the match went to the break at 1-0.
The second half was a reverse from the first half as Liverpool began to assert their control over the match. After some heroics by Rui Patrício and the introduction of both Morgan Gibbs-White and Ivan Cavaleiro into the match, the Wolves’ resistance was finally broken when Virgil Van Dijk opened his Premier League account in the 68th minute doubling Liverpool’s advantage. From then on, Wolverhampton chased the game, and they failed to take their best chance as Romain Saïss fired wide in the 88th minute when it looked easier to score. The match slowly petered out with the remaining action being Patrício making acrobatic saves in goal to hold the scoreline at 2-0.
Liverpool will top the table at Christmas which puts them in pole position to hoist the Premier League Trophy in May. However, the last team to top the table at Christmas and not win the title was Liverpool during the 2013-2014 Premier League season when the team collapsed in its final two fixtures to lose out to Manchester City in the title race.
Meanwhile, Wolverhampton currently occupy 7th, but could fall as far as 12th if everything goes against them in this weekend’s set of fixtures heading into Christmas.
Wolverhampton’s next match is a trip to London where they will take on Fulham as the first Boxing Day fixture. The match is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. ET and can be viewed on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN).
Liverpool will return home to Anfield to host Newcastle United in one of the mid-morning fixtures on Boxing Day. The match is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. ET and can be viewed on NBCSN.
Here’s to an exciting final festive season of Premier League soccer, and don’t forget to cheer for The Arsenal. I hope to celebrate many a goal for the Gunners, and look forward to recapping the various matches across Europe over the weekend.