Arsenal, Liverpool, other EPL Christmas day table toppers that didn’t win the league

 Arsenal, Liverpool, other EPL Christmas day table toppers that didn’t win the league

Although there are no rewards for taking the top spot at Christmas in the EPL (English Premier League), however it’s generally agreed that clubs that are on top of the EPL table when Santa visits has a significant advantage that will help to finish strong.

The lowest position a team has recovered from to win the Premier league at Christmas is eighth, achieved by Man City in 2020–21 and looking at that, even Man Utd, Newcastle, and West Ham United still have hope for this season.

In fact, a team that finished in third place or lower at Christmas has won the league eight times.

Conversely, Aston Villa holds the unwelcome record for the lowest finishing place for a team that was at the top of the Premier League table at Christmas, having finished sixth in 1998–99.

Despite their recent domestic dominance, Manchester City hasn’t always led the pack at Christmas but they have frequently finished strongly. They have only won the league in two occasions when they have topped the table at Christmas.

We’ve examined some of the teams that have led EPL at Christmas but saw their lead evaporate and lost the title in May.

The following are the instances in which the Christmas Day table toppers failed to win the Premier League:


Top at Christmas: Norwich City, Winners: Manchester United

Mike Walker’s team started the season with an exciting 4-2 victory against Arsenal. That victory, which came against a team that was widely regarded as a title contender, set off a run of form that saw them win seven of their first nine games.

After suffering crushing losses to Blackburn and Liverpool in October, Norwich bounced back to win all three of their November games, taking an eight-point lead into the Christmas break.

Before Christmas, Norwich’s luck started to wane. Although they were leading the league, their patchy play caused them to lag behind both Manchester United and Aston Villa in the second half of the season.

The former nearly put an end to Norwich’s improbable title hopes in April when they won big at Carrow Road. Sir Alex Ferguson’s team was crowned champions for the first time in 26 years, ushering in a period of dominance in the Premier League for Manchester United.


Top at Christmas: Manchester United, Winners: Arsenal. 

Although Arsenal’s historic “invincible” season of 2003–04 is still vivid in the minds of many, Manchester United finished first in the standings over the Christmas season despite the north London team not dropping a single game.

United put on a show in December, winning six straight games, but the Gunners’ amazing consistency meant that the title would end up in north London at the end of the season.

After losing just three games in the first half of the 2003 season, the Red Devils were unbeaten at Christmas but finished the year with six losses and four draws. Chelsea overtook them for second place, and Arsenal produced that unbeatable season that has yet to be repeated to win the title.


Top at Christmas: Arsenal, Winners: Manchester United. 

United overcame Arsenal, who were at top of the league at Christmas in 2007, providing more evidence that the best teams really turn it on towards the end of the season.

Arsenal took an early lead in the 2007–08 title race, losing just once in their first 30 games to sit atop at Christmas and maintain a lead into late February. It appeared that Arsenal was adjusting to life without Thierry Henry quite well.

But their progress was cut short at Birmingham, where a horrific injury to forward Eduardo set off a five-game losing streak that saw Chelsea and Manchester United re-enter the race.

Although there were only four points separating the three teams at the end of the season. Arsene Wenger’s team actually dropped out of the top two, finishing third with 83 points. Chelsea, on the other hand, pushed United hard until the very end but lost the EPL to them and also champions league again in Moscow soon after, as the Red Devils won them on penalties.


Top at Christmas: Liverpool, Winners: Manchester United. 

The fact that Liverpool is the team that has lost the most Premier League titles after leading at Christmas shouldn’t come as a surprise. Rafa Benitez’s team had a great start to the 2008–09 season, but by the end of the year, they faltered, and a string of draws let Manchester United close the gap.

The Reds ultimately lost to Sir Alex Ferguson’s team in the penultimate weekend of the season, despite defeating United 4-1 at Old Trafford. Federico Macheda’s winner against Aston Villa at home a few weeks prior was crucial in helping them win their 18th league title and third consecutive seasons.


Top at Christmas: Liverpool, Winners: Manchester City. 

Regretfully, once more it was the Reds that lost again.

Only a few weeks from winning their first ever Premier League title, Chelsea blew Brendan Rodgers’ team’s hopes of glory at Anfield when captain Steven Gerrard tripped, Demba Ba scored, and Chelsea won 2-0. This allowed City to squeak in and win their second Premier League title.


Top at Christmas: Liverpool, Winners: Manchester City. 

Even though they were the best team in the league at Christmas and appeared to be playing flawlessly, Liverpool was unable to stop City, who ended the season on a 14-game winning streak and finished with 98 points, surpassing the Reds’ 97.

Winning the Champions League was a consolation, and nobody will likely ever surpass Liverpool’s total points of 97 as a team finishing second.


Top at Christmas: Liverpool, Champions: Manchester City.

Another story of Liverpool failing to turn their lead at Christmas into a being champions. City continued to grow and Liverpool crumbled after the holidays.

Liverpool were leading by four points on Christmas Day, while the Citizens, despite having a game remaining, dropped to eighth place following a slow start.

The Reds’ defence collapsed due to injuries, and City took advantage of that as well as United’s mistakes to win the title with 12 points above their second placed noisy neighbours. Liverpool barely made it into third place after a late comeback to form.


Top at Christmas: Arsenal, Champions: Manchester City.

Arsenal were at the top of the Premier League table on Christmas Day of 2022 after they mounted a surprise title challenge under Mikel Arteta. The Gunners are approaching two decades without a Premier League winners medal, but looked set to end that wait after leading the league for much of the 2022/23 campaign.

After only one loss in their first 16 games, Arsenal was leading the league at Christmas. The Gunners had been at the top of the Premier League for an incredible 93% of the season.

But, Manchester City overcame Arteta’s team to win the title due to a decline in performance in the closing stages. A new unwelcome record was set by Arsenal’s 248 days at the top without winning the title.

See also: Man City’s first UCL, Messi’s 8th Ballon D’or… Unforgettable football moments of 2023

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