The Last 10 Premier League Leaders At Christmas And How They Fared
A common cliché in English football is not judging the Premier League table until Christmas. Historically, if you’ve been leading the pack by the end of the year, you stand a very good chance of going on to be crowned champions.
Arsenal currently sit top of the league, five points ahead of Manchester City in second place. However, this season offers a somewhat different scenario due to the scheduling of the winter World Cup but having almost played half the total of league games, the Gunners will be excited about their title prospects.
Below, we cast our minds back over the last ten years to see how each of the Premier League leaders at Christmas have concluded their seasons. You can find the latest spread betting odds on the English top flight here.
2021/22 Manchester City
Manchester City topped the table at Christmas last season through 18 games. Each side had a few more games under their belt at this stage last season, meaning City’s lead at the top perhaps had a bit more weight to it than Arsenal’s current one.
Liverpool were just three points behind the Citizens last Christmas and did manage to take the title race to the final day, missing out by just a single point. Pep Guardiola’s side overcame a 2-0 deficit at home to Aston Villa to win 3-2 and secure their sixth Premier League trophy.
Being top at Christmas doesn’t necessarily mean that you will go on to win the competition. Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool realised this two years ago after they sat top of the league through 14 games, four points ahead of Leicester City in second place.
Surprisingly, eventual champions Man City were eight points behind the Reds, albeit with a game in hand over the Christmas period. Nonetheless, City would go on to win the title by some distance, with them finishing ahead of cross-city rivals Manchester United by 12 points. Liverpool ended up in third, finishing 17 points behind City, proving that being top at Christmas doesn’t mean everything.
The Reds were top of the league at the end of the year back in 2019 too but this time they would go on to lift the trophy. Despite the end of the season being completely thrown into disorder due to the outbreak of COVID-19, Liverpool were able to go on and secure the title by 18 points.
It was their first-ever Premier League title and also their first English top flight crowning since 1990. However, the fans were unable to join them in their celebrations due to the pandemic.
In the past three out of four seasons, Klopp has led his men to the top by Christmas. Once again, Liverpool were ahead of City but they would go on to miss out by just one point, despite accumulating 97 points – the most points earned by a team that finished in second in the history of the English top flight.
Liverpool and Klopp would surely have far more trophies to their name if it wasn’t for the brilliance of Guardiola and Man City in recent history. However, it wasn’t to be in 2019 as the Citizens went on to clinch their 4th Premier League title.
2017/18 Manchester City
City and Liverpool continue to dominate this list – a testament to their dominance over the past five years. The 2017/18 season would be known as City’s centurion year after they went on to win the league on 100 points. The Citizens were also top at Christmas in what was a dominating season that saw them break a host of Premier League records.
Chelsea were the last side, before Arsenal this season, other than Liverpool or City to be top at Christmas. After Antonio Conte’s side suffered a 3-0 defeat away to the Gunners in September, the Blues didn’t look back. They topped the table through the festive period and would go on to claim their fifth Premier League trophy, finishing on 93 points, seven points ahead of Tottenham Hotspur in second.
2015/16 Leicester City
The 2015/16 campaign was all about Leicester City and their astonishing maiden Premier League title. Claudio Ranieri led his side to the top of the table at Christmas but no one would envision that he would be able to guide the Foxes to go all the way by the end of the season. Leicester finished ten points ahead of Arsenal in second, being crowned champions with two games to spare.
Chelsea would pick up their first title in five years when they lifted the trophy back in 2015. A victory over Stoke City in December meant that the Blues would lead the pack over the festive period, meaning they were top through 19 games, having suffered just one league defeat. Jose Mourinho led his side to their fourth Premier League title, finishing above Man City by eight points.
There seems to be a common theme that Liverpool are unable to finish off the second half of their campaigns after a strong start. The Reds were top of the league at Christmas and were still top up until the final few games of the 2013/14 season. Despite dropping points in just four out of their 19 games since the turn of the year, Brendan Rodgers’ side were unable to secure the title.
After losing to Chelsea following Steven Gerrard’s infamous slip and bottling a three goal lead in a 3-3 draw against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in two out of their final three games, they were pipped to the title by Man City.
2012/13 Manchester United
It was Sir Alex Ferguson’s final year in charge and it was also the last time that United sat top of the pile at Christmas. Things have changed drastically for the Red Devils since then but Ferguson was able to go out with a bang, exacting revenge after the dramatic conclusion to the title race a year prior after Sergio Aguero’s last-minute goal handing City their first ever Premier League title. Man United would go on to win the league in 2013, finishing ahead of City by a total of 11 points.