While no European football this season may hurt Chelsea fans, it could actually proving to be a blessing in disguise as they look to win their fourth Premier League title. Top the table at Christmas, and Antonio Conte’s Chelsea might just go all the way this year.
They may not be favourites for the title after 13 games, but our traders reckon they can retain top-spot in the league at least until Boxing Day.
Ladbrokes News takes a look at each side in the top-four and their chances of being top of the tree for Christmas.
Chelsea – 13/10
With no European or EFL Cup action to speak of, the Blues have just four games to play between now and December 25.
First up is the hardest of the lot, as Diego Costa and co travel to Man City.
They’ve won just one of their last eight visits to the Etihad, but Chelsea head into this one off the back of seven straight wins in the Premier League, and they know a win will put them four points ahead of their opponents.
Following that is the visit of West Brom, who haven’t beaten Chelsea away from home in the league in 38 years.
Then it’s trips to Sunderland and Crystal Palace, who have just five wins in 26 games combined this season.
In short, if they come out of Sunday’s match with at least a point, they’ll be in a great position to go on and top the table on Christmas Day.
Man City – 2/1
However, should Man City come out of that fixture with three points, they’ll leapfrog Chelsea in the league and will probably be favourites to stay there until at least Christmas.
But the Citizens have a harder fixture list, including the visit of fellow high-fliers Arsenal on December 18.
They’ll also face an in-form Watford side at the Etihad after making a trip to last year’s title winners, Leicester City.
Add to that a Champions League fixture against Celtic and Pep has it all to do between now and Christmas to see his side in first-place.
Liverpool – 12/5
Jurgen Klopp’s men have been in fine form so far this season, and they find themselves in second-place right now on 30 points.
Like Chelsea, Liverpool’s lack of European football has allowed them to concentrate solely on the league, but it’s a big ask for this side to be top on Christmas Day.
They have a huge EFL Cup fixture this week which will take a lot out of the players both mentally and physically before they face their first of three away fixtures in the league between now and Christmas at Bournemouth.
Throw into the mix the fact that star man Philippe Coutinho could be out for at least a month with an ankle injury AND the fact that the Reds have a Merseyside Derby to play between now and December 25 at Goodison Park, and suddenly top-spot after their next four league fixtures sounds incredibly difficult to achieve.
Arsenal – 16/1
An optimistic Gooner would say that this is where the value lies in the market – especially given that they’re only three points behind the league leaders right now.
But Arsene Wenger’s men have six games to play between now and Christmas, and only a fool would consider any of them easy.
Four of those six games are away from home, one being in another country and one being against Guardiola’s City. But, on the plus side, Arsenal have done better on their travels than they have at home this year, notching up six wins in all competitions.
Perhaps this is where the depth in Wenger’s squad will come in handy – with the north London outfit boasting an impressive substitutes bench week-in, week-out.
They’re certainly not out of the title race, but it’s asking a lot for the Gunners to top the table come Christmas. If they can extend their unbeaten run to 25 games over the next four weeks, that’ll more than satisfy fans.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing