Why Chelsea Should Win The Premier League…
As households across the world prepare to decorate their Christmas tables, tables of another kind will be more resonant for Premier League football clubs.
While Clean Bandit and Friends of Jo Cox battle it out for Christmas number one, Chelsea will top the Premier League charts on Christmas Day, having languished in fifteenth just twelve months ago.
Which means, if recent history is any predictor, that they’ll probably win the league.
Ten of the last twelve league leaders at Christmas have gone on to lift the title in May – Liverpool being the anomaly three seasons ago and in 2008/09.
However, if you go further back in Premier League history it does give some comfort to the chasing pack. In the competition’s first twelve seasons, only three Christmas leaders held on to the top spot. The likes of Norwich City, Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Leeds United were top of the festive tree during the nineties before blowing their lead come May – on each occasion to Manchester United. It’s unlikely based on their current form that United can replicate these historic feats.
Meanwhile, if the ghosts of Christmas past are anything to go by, Hull City look doomed.
The so-called “Curse of Christmas” means they are almost 90% certain to be relegated with only three bottom-of-the-table sides on the 25th December in the Premier League’s 24-year history pulling off a great escape.
Gus Poyet led Sunderland to 14th having propped up the table three Christmases ago while West Brom left it to the last day of the season in 2004 to pull off an improbable stay of execution in the top flight. The Baggies remained bottom of the pile going into their last fixture, but a win over Portsmouth, allied to defeats for Norwich City and Southampton saved Bryan Robson’s men from the drop. And, of course, champions Leicester City pulled off a remarkable escape two seasons ago under Nigel Pearson.
Joining Hull City for demotion to the Championship, will more than likely be Sunderland and Swansea City. Of the last 21 sides to be relegated, thirteen of them teetered in the drop zone as Santa delivered his presents. This time last year the Black Cats lay second from bottom, providing hope to David Moyes’ side that they can pull off another great escape in the new year.
If Mike Phelan’s Tigers do drop to the Championship, it’s likely they’ll be replaced by Newcastle United who will top the second tier on Christmas Day. Most of the teams that have topped the Championship at Christmas have gone on to win the title, with Bournemouth two seasons ago being the most recent example. Middlesbrough did surrender their festive lead last season, but were still automatically promoted with champions Burnley.