A History of Statistics in The Premier League at Christmas

A History of Statistics in The Premier League at Christmas
© PA

Liverpool's 7-0 hammering of Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday was not just the biggest away win in the top flight for the Reds, it also ensured they would be top of the Premier League table on Christmas Day.

While no prizes are awarded for being top of the tree at this time of the year, it is a significant point of the football season as the table takes shape.

Being top of the standings at Christmas does not guarantee any glory in the coming months, but the odds are in Liverpool's favour. The team top of the table on December 25 has gone on to win the title 15 times in the 28 Premier League seasons so far.

Times Top of The Table at Christmas Including 2020

TeamTop At Christmas Tally
Man Utd7
Man City2
Aston Villa1

Liverpool opened up a four-point lead following their convincing win over Roy Hodgson's Eagles and Jurgen Klopp's side should expect to be favourites to retain their title after the festive period.

Five of the last six champions found themselves top at Christmas. Indeed, Liverpool are actually the exception in this instance having been top in 2018 when Manchester City were reigning champions.

Furthermore, the last three times a team has led the league on December 25 and not gone on to win the title has been Liverpool (2008, 2013 and 2018) and Klopp will hope that particular chapter in history is not repeated this season.

On each of those three occasions, the Reds were denied the title by one of the Manchester clubs. It was United's title in 2008 while City finished top the other two times.

Last season, when Anfield became the new home for the Premier League trophy, Liverpool had a healthy 10-point lead over Leicester on Christmas Day.

Biggest Gaps Between 1st and 2nd in EPL at Christmas

1st2nd SeasonGap
Man CityMan Utd2017/1813 Points
Man UtdLeeds1993/9412 Points
NewcastleMan Utd1995/9610 Points
LiverpoolLeicester2019/2010 Points

This year, Leicester are once again the closest rivals to Liverpool and the gap is currently four points.

Liverpool will not be taking anything for granted knowing the table can change very quickly in the Premier League.

After all, they led by four points in 2018 only for Manchester City to win the title.

Two games ago, Liverpool shared top spot with Tottenham who had a slightly better goal difference, but back-to-back wins for the Reds and successive losses for Spurs has flipped things.

The biggest Christmas deficit overturned at the top of the table was achieved by Arsenal who were sixth on Christmas Day in 1997, 13 points behind Manchester United. But the final table saw Arsene Wenger's Gunners crowned winners by a single point.

Biggest Christmas Deficit Overturned By Champions:

  • 13 points – Eventual champions Arsenal overcame Man Utd (1997/98)
  • 10 points – Eventual champions Man Utd overcame Newcastle (1995/96)

At the bottom of the table, Sheffield United have made unwanted history this season by reaching Christmas Day with the lowest points total in the history of the league.

Chris Wilder's side have taken their two points from 14 games following the delayed start to the campaign because of Covid-19.

Sunderland had the previous lowest tally in 2005 with five points from 17 games and the Black Cats went on to end the season bottom of the standings.

The bad news for the Blades is that 25 of the 28 teams bottom of the table on Christmas Day have gone on to be relegated.

3 Teams to Survive After Being Bottom at Christmas:

  • West Brom – 2004
  • Sunderland – 2013
  • Leicester – 2014

No team bottom of the table and 10 or more points from safety has managed to find a way to survive. The gap between Sheffield United and Brighton in 17th place is currently 10 points.

The last team to avoid relegation while being the basement side were Leicester in 2014, when the gap was five points. The Foxes actually went from worst to first to sit top of the table 12 months later in their historic title-winning season.

Sheffield United have Fulham and West Brom for company in the bottom three this Christmas and all three will hope they can be history-makers.

Never in the history of the Premier League has all three sides occupying the bottom three places at Christmas survived.

The last time the bottom three sides on December 25 were relegated was 2012 when Wigan, QPR and Reading all dropped out of the league which was the second time that has occurred.

In the bottom 3 at Christmas and relegated:

48 of 85 (56.5%)

In the bottom 3 at Christmas and survive:

37 of 85 (43.5%)

Meanwhile, there is a cautionary tale for teams currently in the top half of the table.

In 1994, Norwich City were seventh in the Premier League, which was then made up of 22 teams.

The Canaries were 14 points clear of Aston Villa in the final relegation spot and dropping out of the league seemed unthinkable.

However, when the dust settled on the season, Norwich were relegated after picking up just 13 points from their final 23 games.

It remains the biggest fall from Christmas of any relegated side in the history of the league.

The Premier League has and will continue to provide drama week after week.

There is plenty of football left to play after Christmas and for some teams, history is waiting to be written.

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