Does being Christmas No 1 lead to the title?

26 Dec 2022
Arsenal celebrate

History shows Arsenal have a strong chance of staying in front but Man City are experienced pursuers

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Arsenal top the table at Christmas and will feel the omens for such teams are encouraging in their quest for a fourth Premier League title.

In 10 of the last 13 seasons, the team sitting No 1 on 25 December have gone on to lift the Premier League Trophy, with Manchester City maintaining that trend in 2021/22.

In this unique campaign, paused for the FIFA World Cup 2022, Arsenal have played 14 matches - four fewer than City had 12 months ago, so the Gunners must stay in front for longer.

However, they also hold a bigger lead. Mikel Arteta's side are five points clear, whereas City only had a three-point gap on 25 December 2021.

Hope for the chasers

Arsenal's pursuers can find their own encouragement from seasons past.

In 14 of the Premier League's 30 previous campaigns, the Christmas leaders have been overtaken come the season's end.

And on all three occasions in the last 13 seasons when that has happened, it has been Man City who have come from behind to win.

Eventual champions' positions on 25 Dec
  Team Pos   Team Pos
92/93 Man Utd 4th 07/08 Man Utd 2nd
93/94 Man Utd 1st 08/09 Man Utd 4th
94/95 Blackburn 1st 09/10 Chelsea 1st
95/96 Man Utd 2nd 10/11 Man Utd 1st
96/97 Man Utd 5th 11/12 Man City 1st
97/98 Arsenal 6th 12/13 Man Utd 1st
98/99 Man Utd 3rd 13/14 Man City 3rd
99/00 Man Utd 2nd 14/15 Chelsea 1st
00/01 Man Utd 1st 15/16 Leicester 1st
01/02 Arsenal 2nd 16/17 Chelsea 1st
02/03 Man Utd 3rd 17/18 Man City 1st
03/04 Arsenal 2nd 18/19 Man City 2nd
04/05 Chelsea 1st 2019/20 Liverpool 1st
05/06 Chelsea 1st 2020/21 Man City 8th
06/07 Man Utd 1st 2021/22 Man City 1st

Half of City's six titles have come when they have been chasing at Christmas.

Indeed, they are the only team in Premier League history to win the title after being as low as eighth on 25 December.

In that 2020/21 season City were eight points off the top at Christmas.

Some champions have overcome an even bigger points deficit. Arsenal were 13 adrift on 25 December 1997 but battled back to win their first Premier League title. 

This term, Arsenal's fixtures over the turn of the year will test their ability to stay at the top.

They have a tricky London derby at home to West Ham United on Boxing Day, then visit seventh-placed Brighton & Hove Albion on 31 December before a crunch duel with third-placed Newcastle United on 3 January.

Also in this series

Part 2: Man City hunting Man Utd's record for best festive form
Part 3: How much does your club enjoy Christmas?
Part 4: Promoted clubs target rare hat-trick in bid to stay up
Part 5: Festive duels can shape relegation battle
Part 6: Kane targets goal records for Boxing Day and festive period
Part 7: League leaders set for tough festive schedule

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