Importance of EPL standings at Christmas
With Christmas Day nearly upon us, here is our Five Aside gift to you this holiday season: a look at what the Christmas standings have historically meant, as the Premier League season heads into its annual round of Boxing Day games.
• Manchester City leads the top flight at Christmas for the first time since 1929, when the club proceeded to finish third behind winner Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County. In five of the previous seven seasons, the league leader at Christmas proceeded to win the Premier League title. But in 19 total Premier League seasons, the team at the top of the table on Dec. 25 has only won the championship eight times.
• With its home tie against Chelsea on Thursday, Tottenham is in the top three at Christmas for the first time since 1984, when Spurs went on to finish third behind Everton and Liverpool.
• Chelsea has 33 points from its first 17 games, which is two points more than the Blues had at this juncture last season. Just like last year, Chelsea sits fourth in the standings, but is 11 points behind leader Man City, compared to the three points the Blues trailed Manchester United by a year ago.
• If you're an Arsenal fan looking for a glimmer of hope in the team's fifth-place standing, how about this: the Gunners did not lead the league at Christmas in any of their three Premier League title campaigns. Two teams have won the Premier League without being in the top four at Christmas. 1997-98 Arsenal was in sixth, and 1995-96 Manchester United was fifth.
• With only 10 points from 17 games, Blackburn will be at the bottom of the standings on Christmas. In the 19 previous Premier League seasons, only one team in last place at Christmas has managed to avoid relegation. West Brom had 10 points from 18 matches in 2004-05, but stayed up by a single point, defeating Portsmouth at home on the season's final day.