Liverpool sit top of the Premier League at Christmas and host Newcastle on Boxing Day—one of the great football occasions which is well worth watching!
While other top leagues around Europe enjoy a winter break, England’s top flight is cranking into high gear.
After recent wins over Man United and Wolves before Christmas, the Reds will face Newcastle and Arsenal in quick succession before the end of the year—then it’s onto the crunch title clash at Man City in 2019.
The focus is fully on Newcastle, though, and well it might be: Boxing Day games have a habit of being spectacular, goal-laden encounters, quite possibly due to the number of changes teams make to lineups around this time of year.
Here’s a run-down of some of the best the Reds have been involved with on December 26 down the years, from the post-Christmas goal feasts to the vital or memorable winners.
10. 3-2 vs. Sunderland, 1964
Bill Shankly’s side were involved in a back-and-forth game on Wearside back in the mid-60s, with the Reds just about edging it.
Gordon Milne and Willie Stevenson gave Liverpool a two-goal lead in the first half—only for Sunderland, just two spots off the bottom at the time, to roar back and equalise with two goals in ten minutes.
Stevenson’s second came just eight minutes from time to give the Reds a 3-2 win and just their second victory of the season away from Anfield.
LFC XI: Lawrence. Lawler, Byrne, Milner, Yeats, Stevenson, Callaghan, Smith, Thompson, Arrowsmith, Hunt.
9. 3-0 vs. Oxford United, 1987
One of the finest Liverpool teams of all time, Kenny Dalglish’s Reds turned over Oxford to go a massive 10 points clear at the top of Division 1 in ’87.
John Aldridge scored just before the break and by the hour mark it was game over, with John Barnes and Steve McMahon also on the scoresheet.
What a team that was!
LFC XI: Grobbelaar, Nicol, Hansen, Gillespie, Venison, Whelan, Houghton, McMahon, Barnes, Aldridge, Beardsley.
8. 1-0 vs. Leicester, 2015
Early glimpses of the promise of Jurgen Klopp‘s tenure could be seen in 2015/16; though consistency wasn’t yet there, the team were already capable of big results.
One such match came in December, just after the boss had taken over, as the Reds inflicted a first league defeat of the season on Leicester City—who would go on to win the league title.
Christian Benteke started on the bench but came on to score the winner and give fans more reason to believe that positive change was on the way.
LFC XI: Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno, Can, Henderson, Lallana, Coutinho, Firmino, Origi.
7. 5-0 vs. WBA, 2004
Rafa Benitez hadn’t been in the hot-seat long when December 2004 rolled around, but he had already assured the Anfield faithful of some memorable occasions: Olympiacos and Arsenal had only just happened!
This was rather more straight-forward as the Reds rattled five past West Brom away from home.
John Arne Riise scored a brace and there were further goals from Florent Sinama-Pongolle, Steven Gerrard and Luis Garcia. Milan Baros also missed a penalty in a dominant Reds display.
LFC XI: Dudek, Finnan, Hyypia, Carragher, Traore, Nunez, Hamann, Gerrard, Riise, Baros, Sinama-Pongolle.
6. 5-0 vs. Swansea, 2017
We don’t have to go back too far in history to find an impressive Boxing Day win: just last season, as the Reds tore Swansea apart at Anfield.
Captain for the day Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring just days before his departure to Barcelona, but it was in the second half that Liverpool really ran riot.
Klopp’s best late Christmas present so far—let’s hope he brings Reds something even better against Newcastle!
LFC XI: Mignolet, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Klavan, Robertson, Can, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coutinho, Salah, Firmino.
5. 4-1 vs. Man City, 1974
Think the Premier League top six can get a little tight at times? At full time on Boxing Day in 1974, the top ELEVEN teams were separated by just four points!
Liverpool went top with this win and left Man City in sixth—yet the gap was just a single point between them!
Bob Paisley’s team ran out 4-1 winners at Anfield with goals from Brian Hall, John Toshack, Steve Heighway and a second from Hall.
LFC XI: Clemence, Neal, Lindsay, Thompson, Hughes, Cormack, Hall, Callaghan, Heighway, Toshack, Keegan.
4. 3-1 vs. Leeds United, 1997
In the late 90s the Reds were battling the likes of Chelsea and Leeds on a regular basis for a top-three finish in the Premier League; this Anfield clash saw the Reds leapfrog their rivals into fourth.
The devastating duo of Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler in attack did the business on this occasion, with the latter hitting a brace after Owen had opened the scoring early in the second half.
Roy Evans was in his final season in sole charge of the Reds at this point and there was still plenty of exciting football on show.
LFC XI: James, McAteer, Kvarme, Matteo, Harkness, Leonhardsen, Ince, Redknapp, McManaman, Owen, Fowler.
3. 6-1 vs. Stoke, 1963
Some days are written into football folklore and that’s the case for December 26, 1963.
The 10 matches played in Division One saw a combined 66 goals scored—including a 10-1 win for Fulham and a 6-1 defeat for Man United.
Bill Shankly’s Liverpool dished out a 6-1 hammering of their own, tearing apart Stoke City to go third in the table.
It was 1-1 at the break, Roger Hunt hit four in the second half and Alf Arrowsmith added another to give Kopites a very merry Christmas indeed.
LFC XI: Lawrence, Ferns, Moran, Milne, Yeats, Stevenson, Callaghan, Thompson, St. John, Arrowsmith, Hunt.
2. 3-0 vs. Bolton, 2008
Robbie Keane never quite managed to sustain his goalscoring form in his short time at Liverpool, but a big highlight for him was the Boxing Day win over Bolton.
The Irish forward grabbed a brace and Albert Riera scored another as Rafa Benitez’s Reds remained a point clear at the top of the table.
Around this time there was genuine belief that Liverpool could go on and win the league that season; they didn’t, of course, and perhaps the subs that day indicate why: Nabil El Zhar, Lucas Leiva and David Ngog were called upon off the bench.
One might have been a solid option, but the other two were below the required standard.
Perhaps we’ve learned lessons from the past, this time around…
LFC XI: Reina, Carragher, Hyypia, Agger, Insua, Benayoun, Gerrard, Alonso, Riera, Kuyt, Keane.
1. 3-0 vs. Man United, 1978
Bob Paisley and his helpers delivered a fantastic late Christmas present to Liverpool fans back in 1978, as they made the journey to Old Trafford—and whipped Man United in their own backyard.
Ray Kennedy, Jimmy Case and David Fairclough scored the goals to keep the Reds top ahead of Everton, to make the day even sweeter.
And the best part of it all? They went and did exactly the same the following year on Boxing Day, beating United 2-0 at Anfield!
LFC XI: Clemence, Neal, Hughes, Hansen, Thompson, Kennedy, Case, McDermott, Souness, Dalglish, Fairclough.