Premier League upsets on Boxing Day

Premier League matches on Boxing Day have tended to produce shock results, with Manchester United, City, Chelsea, Arsenal all having lost to a lesser rival.

Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson watches helplessly as Leicester City's Ricardo Pereira slots the ball in the corner to hand City a Boxing Day defeat.   -  REUTERS

Competitiveness distinguishes the English Premier League from its European counterparts, often anointing it the status as the best league competition in the world. Another distinguishing factor that polarises opinion is the festive programme, including all 20 teams being in action on Boxing Day and the New Year's Day.

Premier League matches on Boxing Day have consistently produced upsets, derailing the title pursuit of a challenger or even the defending champion that season. Here, Sportstar looks back at five of the big Premier League results on December 26.

Boxing Day 2002: Middlesbrough 3-1 Manchester United

Sir Alex Ferguson's title-chasing United team suffered a 3-1 reverse against Steve McClaren's Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium. The home team led 2-0 through goals from Alen Boksic and Szilard Nemeth before Ryan Giggs halved the deficit. But Joseph-Desire Job restored Middlesbrough's two-goal lead and the defeat left United trailing Arsene Wenger's Arsenal by seven points at the halfway point.

The Red Devils would eventually claw back the lead and beat Arsenal to the title.

Boxing Day 2018: Leicester City 2-1 Manchester City

Defending Premier League champion Man City turned up at Leicester still smarting from its 3-2 home defeat to Crystal Palace and needing a win to keep pace with Liverpool at the summit.

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Bernardo Silva put City ahead early but Marc Albrighton equalised for the home team soon after. Then, with 10 minutes of regulation time left, Leicester defender Ricardo Pereira benefited from Man City's failure to clear a corner as he thumped home the winner from an angle.

Boxing Day 2003: Charlton Athletic 4-2 Chelsea

Claudio Ranieri's Chelsea, in the first season under the ownership of Roman Abramovich, lost to Charlton Athletic on Boxing Day of the 2003-04 season.

Herman Hreidarsson headed the home team ahead less than a minute from kick-off but John Terry equalised for Chelsea, which threatened to assert control. It was then that Matt Holland restored Charlton's lead before Jonatan Johansson and Jason Euell added a third and fourth. Eidur Gudjohnsen struck a late consolation for the west London club.

It was one of Chelsea's seven Premier League defeats that season, with the Arsenal's Invincibles winning the title at a canter.

Boxing Day 1999: Coventry City 3-2 Arsenal

One of Arsenal's nine defeats in the 1999-00 Premier League season came against Gordon Strachan's Coventry City team, which waltzed into a 3-0 lead and staved off late Arsenal pressure to secure three points.

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Gary McAllister, Mustapha Hadji and Robbie Keane were the goal-scorers for Coventry, while Freddie Ljungberg and Davor Suker scored to reduce Arsenal's deficit.

Boxing Day 2012: Sunderland 1-0 Manchester City

Sunderland had been one of Man City's bogey teams, and the Stadium of Light a bogey ground, before it suffered Premier League relegation in 2016-17, when it finished bottom. Defeats to the Black Cats at the Stadium of Light had become repetitive that a loss there proved less of a surprise and less upsetting for the City fans.

On this occasion, it was Adam Johnson's long-range effort that beat former City goalkeeper Joe Hart at his near post to secure three points for Sunderland.

It was one of City's six defeats in a season when United won back the title that its derby rival had won in such thrilling fashion in May 2012.

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