SPORTS

Festive sports action to get your teeth into

TAGs: basketball, NFL, Premier League, Soccer

SportsThe other half might tell you that Christmas is a time to spend with your nearest and dearest but we all know the sporting schedule says differently. Only during major international tournaments is there such a feast of sporting goodness and this year is no different. Whether you’re a darts man or a fan of balls there’s plenty to look forward to over the festive period.

Soccer

The festive period can make or break the season for teams in the mix at the top or bottom. Traditionally each team has to contend with as many as three fixtures over the period and this year is no different. As pre-Christmas treats go, Chelsea’s trip to White Hart Lane to face an in-form Tottenham Hotspur (22nd Dec, 8pm) has more spice than three large vats of mulled wine. A win for Spurs would extend the gap between the two to five points. That’s before the home side plays a game in hand with Everton. Two of the best creative midfielders in the league, Luka Modric and Juan Mata, face each other for the first time in the Premier League. Then there’s the classic battle of the powerhouses with Didier Drogba vying with Emmanuel Adebayor.

Boxing Day is one of those days to expect the unexpected. Mario Balotelli handing out turkeys at half-time? We wouldn’t go that far but on the pitch it’s a day that rarely disappoints. One fixture that may fulfill the lofty expectations is Fulham’s visit to neighbors Chelsea (26th Dec 1pm). Martin Jol looks like getting the whites back on track and they have a good record at the Bridge. Much could hinge on the result four days before and any injuries that afflict the home side will be pivotal. Other clashes to look out for include Liverpool v Blackburn (26th Dec, 3pm), Norwich v Spurs (27th Dec, 7:30pm) and Swansea v QPR (27th Dec, 5pm)

Basketball

If there is a sport that can upstage the slab of meat sitting in front of you on Xmas Day then it the old flame every self-respecting American man has been pining after is it. The NBA returns from the lockout with more action than you could throw 10 turkey loads of giblets at. It gives us five games and is likely to last for longer than 12 hours leaving you thinking you’ve just been slam dunked yourself. The action kicks off with a classic East Coast clash as the Celtics travel to the Knicks (12pm ET). This is followed by a repeat of the 2011 Finals with Lebron’s Heat landing in Dallas take on the Mavs (2:30pm ET). Next up is a East v West battle as the Lakers welcome the Bulls (5pm ET). Heading into the evening the Magic go to Oklahoma City (8pm ET) to attempt to take the Thunder down and it’s rounded off by CP3’s first game in LA with the Clippers taking on the Golden State Warriors (10:30pm ET). Lockout? What lockout!

Football

The NFL hasn’t been left out and could produce the most exciting action of the Xmas period with the season entering its final two weeks. Christmas Weekend has a full slate of action with some left over for the turkey sandwich fest on Boxing Day. The early set of games on Xmas Eve throws up an encounter in New York that will decide the fate of the city’s teams. The Jets (8-6) host the Giants (7-7) knowing the loser will likely be out of the postseason. Two teams looking on with interest will be Philadelphia and Dallas (4:15pm ET) with the game an indicator of where the NFC East playoff spot will end up. San Diego still has a chance and will have to be at their best to win in Detroit (4:05pm ET). Christmas Day gives us one for the ages as Chicago takes its slim playoff hopes to Lambeau Field to face the no-longer-invincible Packers (8:20pm). Monday Night Football on Boxing Day has the free-scoring Atlanta Falcons visiting the free-scoring New Orleans Saints (8:30pm)

In terms of bowl games, next week’s clash between unranked California and number 25 Texas (Dec 28th, 8pm) with the pre-Xmas best offering consisting of the Las Vegas Bowl between Arizona State and the almost-National-Title-worthy Boise State Broncos (Dec 22nd, 8pm)

Honorable mention…

The Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship has become a fixture for drunken chanting men over the Christmas period and this year’s no different. The 23rd and 27th December sees action from Ally Pally and we’re told that this year’s coverage is in 3D. Darts Players in 3D…discuss…

King George VI from Kempton Park on Boxing Day sees Kauto Star going for a fifth Christmas to remember. The horse is approaching his 12th birthday and this will add another strand to his memorable career.

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