• Sportsmail columnist Martin Keown returns to answer YOUR questions
  • Premier League clubs are preparing for a gruelling festive run of games
  • High-flying Leicester City are top of the table, two points above Arsenal 
  • Gunners face Southampton in their Premier League clash on Boxing Day 
  • Top-flight players have to be disciplined over the Christmas period 
  • Follow below to find out all of Martin’s answers to your questions 

Martin Keown for the Daily Mail

Former Arsenal and England defender-turned Sportsmail columnist Martin Keown returns to answer YOUR questions on the big talking points in football.

Premier League clubs are preparing for a gruelling festive run of matches, with all 20 top-flight sides kicking off on Boxing Day. 

Going in to Saturday’s matches, high-flying Leicester City are top of the table and lead second-place Arsenal by two points. 

At the other end of the table, Swansea, Sunderland and Aston Villa, all of whom have replaced their managers this season, are in the relegation zone.

But how do Premier League clubs approach the festive period and how disciplined do the players have to be?  

See below to check out Martin’s answers to all of your questions. 

  • Martin Keown

    Host commentator

You can’t worry about other people and I really learnt to embrace it. I remember my sister visiting with her young kids and I think I played four games while she was there. I barely saw them but you learn to enjoy Christmas through other people – if they are having a nice time then that passes on to you. It makes it easier when you have to drop in and drop out so often.

But I do think it’s more difficult for players who are used to getting a Christmas break, especially those who come and play here from foreign leagues. It’s a physical challenge but I think it’s more difficult mentally to adapt to that. For English players it’s always been this way.

Martin Keown (right) learnt to embrace the festive run of matches during his days as a player

In my day Arsene Wenger would get us all in to train on Christmas Day. Normally at Arsenal training was 10.30am arrival for 11am start, but on Christmas Day it was always 10am. That didn’t leave much time for breakfast at home but training was always a bit strange anyway.

It’s not quite a non-event but it’s certainly different. We would do a short, sharp session covering everything we normally would but just in less time. You’d do your normal pre-match drills – looking at opposition strengths and weaknesses, 9v9 games, passing drills – but you’d not be out there for hours doing set pieces. Nobody really wanted to hang around because you’d want to go home to spend a few precious hours with the family.

Of course you’d greet each other with a smile but it was always a bit of a mixed atmosphere because really, everybody wants to be at home. But you are a professional footballer and you have a job to do. You have to make sure the engine is ready for the next day.

For me it was always difficult because I live in Oxford. You’d train in the morning, rush back home for a few hours and then end up back at the training ground to meet the team.

Just as you begin to feel settled and something like ‘Only Fools and Horses’ comes on it’s time to get in the car and head off again. That can be tough for families but you get around that by making sure you have lots of them around. If there’s a big crowd then when you disappear then at least you’re only one person out of many who’s gone. Then they get used to it.

If it was an away game you’d meet at maybe 4pm or 5pm and start your travel. If it was a home it would be more like 7pm so you could get to the hotel. I think the only time I didn’t stay in a hotel before a home Boxing Day game was under Bruce Rioch – he told us to spend Christmas Day with our families and meet at Highbury at 9am the next day. But we won the game so maybe we should have done that more often!

I always really enjoyed football over the festive period, especially going back to Arsenal. Some people don’t like it but it’s the routine and it’s what you do as a professional.

Manchester City train over the festive period ahead of their Boxing Day clash

And welcome to our festive Tackle Keown on Christmas Eve. Let’s get stuck in with the first question.



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