The Premier League’s packed Boxing Day fixture list did not disappoint, with several teams celebrating a merry Christmas while others contemplated a potentially un-happy New Year. The English league remains the only one of Europe’s top flights to play through the festive period, and, though player fatigue remains an argument against the busy schedule, the sight of fans flocking to games around the country at this time of year is one to behold.

18 of the 20 Premier League sides played yesterday afternoon, the exceptions being Liverpool and Stoke who face off at Anfield this evening.

There were naturally plenty of talking points, not least a goal of the season contender from Manchester United’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

United finding feet

Mkhitaryan’s amazing scorpion kick capped an assured display from United against Sunderland on Boxing Day. Jose Mourinho welcomed former manager David Moyes to Old Trafford, but far from exacting revenge for his infamous reign, Moyes probably left wishing he had been able to spend the sort of money United have in recent years.

World record signing Paul Pogba was the game’s star performer. His wonderful pass to set up Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the second goal decided the match, which had been closely fought up until that point.

Mkhitaryan’s glorious strike (albeit slightly offside) added gloss to the scoreline before Sunderland’s Fabio Borini grabbed a late consolation.

Worryingly for the rest of the Premier League, United’s big names are starting to fire. They have won four games in a row, although their earlier inconsistency means they remain only sixth.

Chelsea march on

In beating Bournemouth 3-0 at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea were arguably the most impressive team on display on Boxing Day. Despite missing key men Diego Costa and N’Golo Kante through suspension, Chelsea steamrollered Bournemouth with a vibrant attacking display. Pedro and Eden Hazard shared the goals. Antonio Conte’s side have now won a club record 12 league games in a row to sit seven points clear of second-placed Manchester City.

Leicester miss Vardy

Leicester City’s hero of last season Jamie Vardy has not been in the best of form this term. He has scored just five goals in 17 games. A hat-trick in a 4-2 win over Man City earlier in December offered a glimpse of his blistering best, but that momentum was emphatically ended by a red card in his previous game against Stoke.

Leicester fans showed solidarity for Vardy by bringing tens of thousands of masks to the Boxing Day match against Everton. Vardy was most likely flattered by the show of support, but his team missed the speedy striker as they went down to a 2-0 home defeat. The champions may have reached the Champions League last 16, but they sit just three points away from the relegation zone.

Bradley’s final straw?

Swansea manager Bob Bradley said before Christmas that he may only have two games to save his job. Make that one after a limp 4-1 home loss to fellow strugglers West Ham on Boxing Day. The Swans looked like they had turned a corner after a dramatic 5-4 win over Crystal Palace in late-November, but they have lost four out of five since.

American Bradley is now odds on to be the next Premier League manager to lose his job. Bournemouth visit the Liberty Stadium on New Year’s Eve in what is likely to be billed as Bradley’s day of reckoning.

Fireman Sam is back

Finally, Boxing Day saw the return of a familiar face to a Premier League dugout. Sam Allardyce has taken over as Crystal Palace manager from Alan Pardew. It is his first job since he gave up his dream of being England manager after just 67 days.

The Palace job sees Allardyce return to doing what he does best – steering a struggling side away from trouble. He appeared as fired up as ever in the game against Watford. He saw his side battle to a 1-1 draw to move two points clear of the drop zone, but was unhappy with the Watford mascot. The ‘Hornet’ appeared to mock Palace winger Wilfried Zaha by diving on the floor.