Despite having played one game less than their rivals, Liverpool have once again claimed the Premier League top spot at Christmas. The Reds have not lost a single league game all season and as we sit here on Christmas Day 2019, Liverpool have a ten-point lead over Leicester City, who they face tomorrow and an 11-point lead over Champions Manchester City. Being top of the league at Christmas is familiar ground for the Reds but every time they’ve been in this position, the Merseysiders have failed to press home their advantage and win the title at the end of the season. They’re not alone in having that ‘honour’ though, with several other teams having failed to hold on to their festive spot at the top of the table until the end of the campaign We’ve taken a look at all of these teams. Liverpool will be hoping not to be added to this list of teams again this year!
In the inaugural Premiership season, Norwich started like a house on fire. The Canaries shot out of the gate and were beating just about everyone in the run up to Christmas. Losing steam in the second half of the season, Norwich still managed to finish third – somehow, with a negative goal difference.
The 1995/96 Newcastle team have become something of a fond memory. An immensely talented side driven by Kevin Keegan fell to a stunning 4-3 defeat to Liverpool, and never quite recovered. Finishing second to Manchester United, Keegan is remembered for a highly entertaining rant in an interview where, ahead of the last game of the season, he informed the Red Devils that he would ‘love it’ if they beat them to the title. Unfortunately for Keegan, they weren’t able to win the title.
It’s Spice Boys time! Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler, Jamie Redknapp and company were tearing it up in the first half of the season but lacked the defensive security to finish off the job.
Manchester United 1997/98
United’s 1997/98 side were just a season away from treble glory, but the 1997/98 campaign saw them lose grasp on the top spot just four games from the end of the season.
Aston Villa 1998/99
It was Villa’s turn to catch fire in the 1998/99 season, with Dion Dublin and Julian Joachim doing the business up top. The sale of Dwight Yorke to Manchester United came back to haunt Villa, with the Red Devils eventually winning the league, thanks in part to Yorke’s goals.
Despite a superb team consisting of the likes of Jonathan Woodgate and Lee Bowyer catapulting the Whites to top spot at Christmas, eight defeats after the big day meant it was to be a third place finish that year.
The Magpies looked like they could be heading for a famous Premier League victory in the 2001/02 campaign, but defeats to the old ‘big four’ down the stretch meant Bobby Robson’s side faded away.
The Gunners actually lost more games before Christmas than they lost after the festive period in 2002/03, but Manchester United (fuelled by Ruud van Nistelrooy) were unstoppable and romped to the title.
Manchester United 2003/04
And we’ll reverse the roles now! United were boasting another excellent team in the 2003/04 season, but nobody was coming between Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ and the Premiership trophy.
The Gunners were left out in the cold in 2007/08, as they struggled to adapt to life without Thierry Henry. Finishing behind Chelsea and Manchester United, little did the Arsenal fans know at the time that this was to become the norm.
Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano, Xabi Alonso, Fernando Torres. Typically, Liverpool’s defence wasn’t good enough to get them over the line in 2008/09 as they lost out to Man United yet again.
Steven Gerrard slipped to the floor against Chelsea, a three-goal lead was thrown away against Crystal Palace, and that was that for Brendan Rodgers’ memorable Liverpool side. Luis Suarez had cracked the codes of numerous Premier League defences, but it wasn’t enough as Man City secured the title on the final day of the season.
History repeated itself last season as Man City caught Liverpool in a truly historic title race. Liverpool’s 2-0 win at Wolves last December ensured that they topped the Premier League at Christmas and, as we all know, the Reds went on to earn 97 points but that wasn’t enough to win the league as City went on an incredible unbeaten run to get 98 points, just pipping the Reds. Will this year be different for Liverpool or will we be adding their name to this list again?