Over the past nine seasons, seven of the sides that have topped the Premier League on New Year’s Day have gone on to win the title that season. The last team to fail to do so was Arsenal in 2015-16 when Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City pulled off the biggest upset in Premier League history.
These recent seasons have shown how important it is to sit top of the pile going into the second half of the season. And it’s Manchester City who are in prime position to do just that currently as the defending champions have a two-point lead over Liverpool with eight games to go between now and the new year.
Pep Guardiola’s side have only dropped points in two of their 12 Premier League fixtures so far this season – a 1-1 draw at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers and a 0-0 at Liverpool. The 10 games they have won have come with a goal difference of +31.
They showed their superiority over Manchester United last time out with a comfortable 3-1 victory in the Manchester derby. United now 12 points behind the leaders, certainly won’t be topping the table come New Year. Gone are the days when they were challenging and winning the Premier League with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Robin van Persie and Nemanja Vidic…
Liverpool haven’t been too shabby themselves. As well as being held at home by Manchester City, the only other games Jurgen Klopp’s side have dropped points in have been at Chelsea and Arsenal. Though the fixture list certainly favours the current league leaders for the remainder of the year.
Manchester City’s toughest run arguably comes at the beginning of December when they go to Watford midweek and then Chelsea at the weekend – games that you can watch online via Ronaldo7. Should they win in Lyon later this month they will have won their Champions League group with a game to spare.
Whereas Liverpool may need to win their two remaining Champions League group games in order to progress – away to runaway Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain, and then at home to Napoli. Their Premier League fixtures either side of these aren’t too kind either.
Prior to their trip to Paris, Liverpool will go to Watford and then come back to host the first Merseyside derby of the season. Everton have found some form under Marco Silva of late and won’t be playing midweek either.
Before the Reds host Napoli in their final Champions League group game, they are at Bournemouth three days before. The Cherries currently sitting sixth in the Premier League. The following weekend Liverpool will be at home to rivals Manchester United. And although Jose Mourinho’s side will be in Champions League action, at Valencia, 24 hours after Liverpool’s game – the Red Devils could have already qualified for the second round before their trip.
The other side with an outside chance of topping the Premier League on New Year’s Day is Chelsea. The Blues currently sit four points back on City but are unbeaten themselves. Maurizio Sarri’s side aren’t in Champions League action and therefore they can afford to rest their stars in their final Europa League group stage matches.
Chelsea also host Manchester City in early December – an excellent opportunity to close the gap on the leaders, though beating the Citizens will be very difficult to say the least.
Otherwise, Sarri’s side have a decent set of fixtures to end 2018, but whether City will drop four points between now and New Year is a whole different issue.
Who will be top of the Premier League on New Year’s Day? We cannot look past Manchester City…