Top, top, top of the league. If Liverpool fans are singing this on Christmas day they’ll have good reason to finally believe the Premier League trophy will come to Anfield. Between the 2015/16 and 2008/09 seasons only twice has the team at the top on 25 December not won the trophy. Annoyingly for Reds fans this was Liverpool in 2013 and 2008. But there’s such a strong spirit at the club this season that if they’re carving up the turkey while looking down at the rest, they surely won’t let their lead slip again.
Leicester lorded it over the big boys 12 months ago and their title challenge never faded. Fast forward a year and The Foxes are well out of it, licking their wounds in the wrong half of the table. This season it’s a seemingly five-way fight between Liverpool, Chelsea, Man. City, Arsenal and Tottenham. With just a few points separating them the crucial Christmas period could be make or break. It’s the hectic fixture frenzy that we all know and love – well, apart from West Brom boss Tony Pulis – with six games arriving in the last few weeks of the year. Fans with time off from work love attending the extra games or sitting down at home to take in the action. Yep, when Santa begins to jingle his bells you’ll know the title race is really taking shape!
Liverpool have a mixed bag of festive fixtures in 2016. If six points can be collected from the visit of struggling West Ham and a trip to Middlesbrough on 11 and 14 December respectively, then all eyes will be on the massive Merseyside derby at Goodison Park. It’s on the Monday night of the week leading up to Christmas day (expect to see plenty of blue Santa hats in the crowd) and Liverpool will be buoyed by their recent record against Everton. You have to go back to October 2010 for the last time they lost to their city rivals, although seven of the last 12 league meetings have been draws. If you fancy a bet on the premier league title, the stats and form point to Liverpool being favourites for the win this time.
Jurgen Klopp’s team can then enjoy an eight-day break before a double header against Stoke on 27 December and Man. City on New Year’s Eve. Both games are at home and with Stoke winning just one of their first six away games, a net-busting performance like The Reds recorded against Watford, Hull and Leicester would be the perfect belated Christmas prezzie. Pep Guardiola’s City will be a different challenge of course. Keeping clean sheets is not Liverpool’s speciality, but if Matip and Lovren continue to boss it at the back and snuff out Aguero, Sterling and De Bruyne then Coutinho (if fit) and Firmino are always likely to create something to get the Kop cheering. These two heavyweight clubs met on Boxing Day in 2013 but Liverpool won’t want a repeat of that 2-1 loss. Klopp then takes his team to Sunderland on 2 January where, potentially, the likes of Sturridge, Origi and Lucas could get more game time as the busy Christmas period takes its toll on the squad.
This year, just like in 2013 and 2008, Liverpool head into Christmas with smiles on their faces and a spring in their step. Even though Chelsea have the easier fixtures – they face none of the top eight in late December – and Arsenal took their unbeaten run to 17 in all competitions with a 1-1 draw at United, The Reds fear no-one and rightly revel in being the division’s top scorers. Top, top, top of the league indeed.