The race to be the Premier League’s Christmas No. 1 has gained more importance in recent years.
Ever since Liverpool were top of the tree in 2008 only to finish the season in second, each team who have been at the head of the table on 25th December have gone on to win the league – Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and last season Manchester United again.
This time around it looks to be those same three clubs in the mix, but their fixture lists hold differing fortunes.
Whilst David Moyes is still getting his feet under the table at Old Trafford, the Scot won’t have welcomed being sent to Swansea and Liverpool as well as facing Chelsea in his first three matches.
With further trips to City and Tottenham to make before Santa gets on his sleigh, the 9/4 on offer for United to be on top of the Premier League on Christmas Day makes little appeal.
Manuel Pellegrini and City undoubtedly have it easier, with their only especially daunting away trip before Christmas coming when they face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on October 27th.
However, as in the last two seasons, it could be that the Citizens find it tough to marry domestic matters with the Champions League.
That Chelsea trip is one of six games they’ll face after a European assignment, with the others including a Manchester derby, a match against bogey team Everton, a visit to Sunderland – where they have lost on their last two trips – and a clash against Arsenal.
All of which means that their 19/10 favouritism looks too short, and that means siding with the 3/1 Chelsea could pay off.
Pre-Yuletide visits to United, Everton, Tottenham and Arsenal look tough until you remember that they won at all four venues last season, and although they’ll face that City clash after a Champions League game, they’ll also play Fulham, Norwich, West Brom, Southampton and Crystal Palace after European exertions too.
Jose Mourinho’s men will be at home for five of those matches, and if they can take advantage of that then the coveted No. 1 spot at Christmas could await.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publication