It is every sports fan’s favourite time of year – December! The point in the year when English football goes fixture and tradition mad; the opportunity to find out who England (and this time round Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland as well) will meet in the first round of the European Championships, leading to inevitable hype before the crushing realisation that all of the Home Nations will be lucky to make it through the group, never mind winning the thing. It is also exam period for most of the University, and with that in mind, it seems appropriate to share my favourite ways to procrastinate this December.
Premier League Football
Let us start with the obvious. As already stated, the English Premier League goes absolutely mad during the Christmas and New Year period with games on December 19th, 26th, 28th, and January 2. Stand-out fixtures that will certainly be worth five marks fewer on your History exam are Leicester v Chelsea on Monday 14 December in the battle of the role reversal, and a top-table battle between Arsenal and Manchester City on Monday 21.
For those who prefer pastry rather than a full English for breakfast, Italy’s Serie A is serving up a treat on December 4 with Juventus visiting the cauldron of the Stadio Olimpico for a meeting with Lazio, and for those who prefer sangria to whisky, Valencia host Barcelona on the 5th, and Atletico Madrid play Athletic Bilbao on the 13th.
Who can complain about ‘not having anything to do’ when the BBC shows the full extent of the UK Snooker Championships on BBC Two? No one, that is who. With Stuart Bingham looking to challenge the best in the world once more after his remarkable World Championship win at The Crucible in May, and the return to form of John Higgins, it promises to be as tasty as ever.
Ronnie O’Sullivan is not taking part however. The mercurial and aloof legend is taking another one of his ‘breaks’ from the sport, and has said, once again, that he may never come back. Anthony McGill, one of the breakthrough stars of the Worlds, is also in the mix alongside the usual suspects of Judd Trump, Ali Carter, Mark Selby and Neil Robertson. It does not really matter who wins though; listening to Steve Davis, John Virgo, John Parrott and Willie Thorne wax lyrical for a week is a joy to behold.
Cricket, like snooker, is for expert procrastinators only, and for good reason. For anyone even remotely interested in the game, the Test Series Gods have smiled down on you this December with India hosting South Africa in a battle that should be intriguing and fascinatingly tactical from start to finish. The First Test of that series starting on Thursday 3 December.
If that wasn’t enough for cricket fans, New Zealand host Sri Lanka from the 9th, and on the very same day across the Tasman Sea, Australia kick off their series against the West Indies. Now, Test cricket has had its criticisms recently, but for some reason it is doubtful students hold much against it.
After Tyson Fury’s quite incredible victory over Wladimir Klitschko in Dusseldorf on Saturday evening, the world of boxing just got a hell of a lot more interesting for British fighter Anthony Joshua. Joshua, a gold-medallist at the London Olympics, has eyes on the belts of the heavyweight boxing world, but it will take at least a victory against Dillian Whyte for the Watford-born fighter to even begin to be considered as a challenger for Fury’s belts.
That fight takes place on the 12 December in London’s O2 with the undercard looking strong, too, with Chris Eubank Jr. taking on Gary O’Sullivan in a WBA Middleweight Title Eliminator.
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