Top at Christmas – What does it mean?

top of table

All the big teams want to be top of the table at any time of the year, but there always seems to be something special about being number one on December 25th. But why? The title isn’t won until May and most of time, all the teams haven’t even played every other side in the league.

There seems to be a overriding feeling that if you are top at Christmas, then the title is yours to lose and that you should be expected to lift the trophy come May.

Arsenal and Chelsea both could have gone top last night, but the two sides played out a 0-0 draw.
Arsenal and Chelsea both could have gone top last night, but the two sides played out a 0-0 draw.

In the past four seasons, the answer has been yes. Since the 2009-10 season, whichever side has been in pole position on Christmas Day have won the Premier League that season.

However if you look at the record of the 21 years since the Premier League was formed, it gives a more negative suggestion. Only on nine occasions has the team at the top come Christmas morning, gone on to enjoy the benefits come May. On the other hand, 11 teams top at New Year have gone on to lift the trophy. And with the top of table extremely close at the moment, we may well have a new leader on January 1st.

Does this give hope to Liverpool who have haven’t won an English league title since but are top at Christmas this season?

2008-09: The last time Liverpool were top at Christmas
2008-09: The last time Liverpool were top at Christmas

It may do, but the last time the Reds were top at this time, they went on to finish second, four points behind winners Manchester United in 2008-09. That was only the second time since 2004-05 that a side top at Christmas failed to win the league. The other time it happened was the season before, when Arsenal led Manchester United by a point on December 25th, but ended up third in May.

If you’re worried as a fan of a team second, third, fourth or even fifth come Christmas and New Years day, don’t worry just yet. The reality is that in the inaugural Premiership Season in 92/93, Norwich were top at this time and ended up 15 points behind Manchester United, the eventual winners that season and I’m sure Newcastle fans won’t want me to remind them of the season they were so far ahead of Manchester United and still lost. Likewise, United fans and the season that Arsenal caught them.

The only thing that was worse than this shirt for Norwich in the 1992-93 season was that they were 15 points clear at Christmas but didn't win the title
The only thing that was worse than this shirt for Norwich in the 1992-93 season was that they were 15 points clear at Christmas but didn’t win the title

Its very unpredictable whether top at Christmas will mean the league title for Liverpool this season, with the top group of teams so close together.

Unpredictable is a great way to describe this season so far as whole. With there still being so much to play for before the final ball is kicked in anger come May 2014, anything could happen. Until then, how many more will City score at home and how many times will Arsene Wenger’s zip on his coat fail before we find out who the best team this season is? The main thing for most fans of the top four to beware of, is that the 10 point gap Manchester United currently suffer from, has been overturned by them in the past.

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