Premier League at Christmas: What can we read into how the table looks on 25 December?

24 December 2023 0 By Total Football News

Arsenal are top of the Premier League at Christmas for a fourth time – but history does not suggest the Gunners should be celebrating too soon.

They led the table on 25 December in 2002, 2007 and 2022 – and did not win the title on any occasion.

Going back to the pre-Premier League era, the past six times Arsenal have been top at this stage they have failed to win the league. The last time they managed it was 1947-48.

Only in two of the past five seasons has the team top at Christmas won the title – Liverpool in 2019-20 and Manchester City in 2021-22.

It had happened in eight of the nine seasons before that, though.

Times top at ChristmasTitles won in those seasons
Man Utd75 (71%)
Liverpool61 (17%)
Chelsea55 (100%)
Man City33 (100%)
Arsenal30 (0%)
Newcastle20 (0%)
Blackburn11 (100%)
Leicester11 (100%)
Norwich10 (0%)
Aston Villa10 (0%)
Leeds10 (0%)

Who does history tell us can still win the title?

A little over half the time – 16 out of 31 – the team top at Christmas won the title, which means 15 times someone else climbed the table to finish top.

There is even hope for Manchester United, with Manchester City coming from eighth place in 2020-21 to win the title.

On two other occasions have a team been outside the top four at Christmas and gone on to be champions – Manchester United, fifth in 1996-97, and Arsenal, sixth the following season. Fifth-placed Manchester City have work to do if they are to win a fourth consecutive title.

What about relegation?

History suggests there is still hope for bottom club Sheffield United – a 13% chance anyway.

Four teams have been bottom at Christmas and stayed up – West Bromwich Albion (2004-05), Sunderland (2013-14), Leicester (2014-15) and Wolves (2022-23).

Most pundits are tipping bottom three Luton, Burnley and Sheffield United to go down – but there have only been three seasons where the relegation zone has been the same on 25 December and the final day.

They are 2001-02 (Derby, Leicester, Ipswich), 2012-13 (Wigan, QPR, Reading) and 2020-21 (Fulham, West Brom, Sheffield United).

Teams in the top half cannot get too complacent yet, though.

Two teams have been in the top 10 at Christmas and gone down – Norwich, who were seventh in 1994-95, and Blackpool, who were 10th in 2010-11.

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