10 of English football's most brilliant Christmas matches

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Oldham 3-6 Man United, Dec 1991


Oldham 2-5 Man United, Dec 1993

To ruin someone’s Christmas is poor form. To do it twice in three seasons, particularly in a team's own backyard, really isn’t on.

In 1991, Manchester United’s title-chasing side (they would end the season as runners-up to Leeds) ripped poor Oldham apart with a succession of lightning-fast breaks involving Andrei Kanchelskis and a fresh-faced Ryan Giggs. Another memorable moment was the sight of Denis Irwin scoring against his former club and being rather happy about it. Muted celebrations? Pah.

Two years later United were the current league champions, and sought victory at Boundary Park to extend their lead to an imperious 14 points. It was achieved with ease as Oldham again crumbled against the attacking talents of Giggs and Kanchelskis – only this time they had to contend with Eric Cantona too. One can only assume Christmas was cancelled in 1994.

Man United 3-5 West Brom, Dec 1978

This game is included for two reasons: to appease any disgruntled Oldham fans who might be feeling victimised, and because goal for goal, it is one of the best matches ever played in England's top flight.

Ron Atkinson’s exciting West Brom side tore apart a United team still reeling from a dismal Boxing Day loss to Liverpool. Although United briefly led through a fierce Brian Greenhoff volley, the match was really all about West Brom’s exceptional attacking players. Time and time again Laurie Cunningham ghosted past defenders with ease (if you want to see the footballing equivalent of a post-Christmas dinner slump then just watch Stewart Houston, red faced and puffing, trying in vain to chase a player simply too quick in body and mind). The finishes from Len Cantello and Cyrille Regis were equally impressive.

West Brom finished third in a memorable season in which this was the standout performance.

Tottenham 5-2 Chelsea, Dec 1961

Spurs have had a famously poor record against Chelsea in recent times (particularly at Stamford Bridge, where they last won in 1990), but 53 years ago things were very different. 

Spurs were reigning league champions, and just four days after beating Chelsea 2-0 away, the two sides met again at White Hart Lane. This time victory was even more emphatic, as a Cliff Jones hat-trick demolished a Chelsea side that were later relegated.

Almost all of the matches, Dec 1963

No list of classic festive matches would be complete without mentioning Boxing Day 1963, when a ridiculous 66 goals were scored across 10 First Division matches. Fulham beat Ipswich – league champions in 1962 – 10-1. West Ham were mauled 8-2 at home by league leaders Blackburn. Eventual champions Liverpool thrashed Stoke 6-0. Spurs and West Brom drew 4-4.

Imagine, then, being a fan of Leicester or Everton, whose sides let everyone down by playing out routine 2-0 home victories. Scrooges.

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