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 Thursday, 19 December, 2002, 15:05 GMT
The Premiership's key Christmas fixtures
Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier, Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
Which of these men will be smiling come 1 January?
With each club facing four matches over the Christmas period, the 10 festive days could sort out the contenders from the pretenders at the top and bottom of the Premiership.

BBC Sport Online outlines the key games.


Arsenal's Christmas
21.12.02 W2-0
Middlesbrough (h)
26.12.02 v
West Brom (a)
29.12.02 v
Liverpool (h)
01.01.03 v
Chelsea (h)
Home games against the sides lying third and fifth mean the champions could put some distance between themselves and the pack, while a trip to West Brom is hardly daunting.

Manchester United

Man Utd's Christmas
22.12.02 L0-1
Blackburn Rovers (a)
26.12.02 v
Middlesbrough (a)
28.12.02 v
Birmingham City (h)
01.01.03 v
Sunderland (h)
The Reds' resurgence ended at Blackburn and Man Utd face another difficult match at Middlesbrough before two home bankers around New Year.


Chelsea's Christmas
21.12.02 W2-0
Aston Villa (h)
26.12.02 v
Southampton (h)
28.12.02 v
Leeds Utd (a)
01.12.03 v
Arsenal (a)

Get a result at Arsenal on New Year's Day and Chelsea can be considered serious contenders, but first they have to beat the sort of struggling sides that have tripped them up in the past.


Everton's Christmas
22.12.02 D0-0
Liverpool (a)
26.12.02 v
Birmingham City (a)
28.12.02 v
Bolton W (h)
01.12.03 v
Man City (h)
A draw in the Merseyside derby kept Everton above Liverpool at Xmas for the first time in years. With their other matches all looking very winnable, this season's surprise packets should still be up there at the turn of the year.


Liverpool's Christmas
22.12.02 D0-0
Everton (h)
26.12.02 v
Blackburn Rovers (h)
29.12.02 v
Arsenal (a)
01.01.03 v
Newcastle Utd (a)
Liverpool's run without a win extended to seven Premiership games after the goalless Merseyside derby. Blackburn, leaders Arsenal, and Newcastle looks like the sort of Christmas fare Liverpool fans must be dreading.

West Brom

West Brom's Christmas
21.12.02 D2-2
Sunderland (h)
26.12.02 v
Arsenal (h)
28.12.02 v
Charlton (a)
01.01.03 v
Fulham (a)
A game against the defending champions and leaders is not exactly what you need when you are struggling against relegation. But the Baggies will be hopeful about the other matches, despite letting a two-goal lead slip against Sunderland.

Bolton Wanderers

Bolton's Christmas
21.12.02 D1-1
West Ham Utd (a)
26.12.02 v
Newcastle Utd (h)
29.12.02 v
Everton (a)
01.01.03 v
Aston Villa (a)
The struggling northerners got their Christmas games under way with a crucial draw at West Ham, a useful warm-up for three tricky festive fixtures.

West Ham Utd

West Ham's Christmas
21.12.02 D1-1
Bolton (h)
26.12.02 v
Fulham (h)
28.12.02 v
Blackburn (a)
01.01.03 v
Charlton (a)
History suggests if you are bottom at Christmas you are doomed. That is exactly where West Ham find themselves after the draw with Bolton, but the rest of their holiday campaign does not look too daunting.

Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.

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