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3. ENGLAND: Holiday fun begins Saturday
December 22nd, 2006 1:58AM

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Most major leagues take a break at the end of the year, but it's the height of the season in England, where each Premier League team will play four games in the next 10 days -- a pair of Saturday games and the traditional games on Boxing Day (Dec. 26) and New Year's Day.

Chelsea won the last two league titles after leading on Christmas, reserving the recent trend of EPL leaders on Christmas rarely winning the title. The Blues were perfect over the last two holiday seasons. They went on to beat Arsenal by 12 points -- seven more than they had on Christmas Day -- in 2005 and Manchester United by nine -- their same margin on Dec. 25 -- in 2006.

Manchester United takes a two-point lead over Chelsea into the weekend -- down from eight points nine days ago.

HOLIDAY SCHEDULE

MANCHESTER UNITED (44 points)
Dec. 23 -- at Aston Villa (Setanta Sports USA, live, 9:45 am ET).
Dec. 26 -- Wigan (Setanta Sports USA, delay, 12:30 pm ET)
Dec. 30 -- Reading (Setanta Sports USA, live, 9:45 am ET)
Jan. 1 -- at Newcastle (Fox Soccer Channel, live, noon ET)

CHELSEA (42 points)
Dec. 23 -- at Wigan (Fox Soccer Channel, live, noon ET)
Dec. 26 -- Reading (no TV)
Dec. 30 -- Fulham (Fox Soccer Channel, live, 10 am ET)
Jan. 1 -- at Aston Villa (no TV)

LIVERPOOL (31 points)
Dec. 23 -- Watford (Fox Soccer Channel, live 10 am ET).
Dec. 26 -- at Blackburn (Setanta Sports USA, live, 9:55 am ET)
Dec. 30 -- at Tottenham (Setanta Sports USA, delay, 12:30 pm ET)
Jan. 1 -- Bolton (Setanta Sports USA, live, 7:40 am ET)

ARSENAL (30 points)
Dec. 23 -- Blackburn (Setanta Sports USA, delay, 5 pm ET).
Dec. 26 -- at Watford (Fox Soccer Channel, live, 12:30 pm ET)
Dec. 30 -- at Sheffield United (Fox Soccer Channel, live, noon ET)
Jan. 1 -- Charlton (no TV)


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