Christmas is well known for being one of the toughest periods in the football season. It comes after a few months of hard work, international breaks, and likely some injuries too.
Just when most people begin to crack open the beers and get warm beside the fire, the Premier League begins to pick up the pace.
Often, more fixtures than usual occur throughout December and through to the new year, which means that seasons can change very drastically within this time frame.
This year will feel special as fans are allowed back into the stadiums, and with time off to enjoy the football we can surely expect some incredible atmospheres.
In this article, we’re going to focus on all of the teams in contention for the top 4. So, let’s take a look at who has the easiest (and hardest) ride this festive season!
Arsenal’s Christmas fixtures are a mixed bag. Realistically, they could come out of December with an excellent haul of points, but it won’t be easy.
They take on Everton at Goodison Park on the 6th of December in a game that could go either way. Arsenal is in a much better position to win this game right now, but Goodison Park is always a hard place to go.
After this, they play Southampton at home, which should be a fairly simple 3 points for them. Things get more difficult as they face West Ham and Leeds, both ferocious sides.
This run of games then ends with their biggest challenge on 1st January with a fixture against Manchester City.
Chelsea is currently in a title race and looks pretty likely to go the whole way. However, as was mentioned previously, a lot can change over Christmas.
Their Christmas fixture list is not the easiest. Starting with an away bout against West Ham United, we will see how well they fare.
In previous seasons, this may have looked like a fairly easy game for Chelsea, but West Ham have transformed into a formidable foe over the past two years and it will be a difficult game for any team.
Following this, Chelsea will come up against Leeds at Stamford Bridge. This should be a comfortable win.
Next up, Chelsea faces Everton, Wolves, Aston Villa, and Brighton. On paper, the boys in blue should take 12 points from these fixtures, but they will be coming thick and fast with very little rest. Not to mention Chelsea is competing in a number of additional cup fixtures.
Last up, Chelsea plays Liverpool in what is sure to be a huge game. Two title contenders going at it on new year's day, what could go wrong?
Liverpool’s fixtures across this period are somewhat favourable. They face off against Wolves, Aston Villa, Newcastle, Leeds, and Leicester. Arguably, they should win all of these games based upon their current squad.
Tough games will come against Tottenham and Chelsea, although they are more than capable of defeating Tottenham with ease depending on how things go.
Most teams in the league struggle to deal with Liverpool’s style of play under Jurgen Klopp, and no defender in the world wants to go up against Mo Salah. It could be a pretty fortuitous Christmas for the red men.
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Manchester City may have the easiest run on this list. Starting with a game against Watford (a team Manchester City has always beaten quite convincingly), one can expect an easy beginning to the Xmas campaign.
Following this, City plays against Wolves, Leeds, Newcastle, Leicester, and Brentford. Judging by the way Manchester City chip away and dismantle teams, it seems unlikely that any of these will pose any real challenge.
However, City has been beaten by some surprising foes over the years and this Christmas could provide occasions such as this.
Ending with a somewhat more difficult game against Arsenal, which is managed by Guardiola's former assistant Mikel Arteta, it’s not unreasonable to expect City to go undefeated throughout December.
With new interim manager Ralf Rangnick at the helm, it will be interesting to see how United fare over Christmas. They have a decent run of games, perhaps the easiest if it wasn’t for their lack of quality in recent weeks.
But this lack of quality may be about to change with the boost of a new manager. After Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Chelsea, it looks as though their luck may be about to change, as Michael Carrick gives over managerial duties to Rangnick.
He will be in the dugout for Thursday's game against Arsenal. They then come up against Crystal Palace, Norwich, Brentford, Brighton, Newcastle, Burnley, and Wolves.
All of the games following Arsenal should be fairly straightforward, except perhaps Graham Potter’s Brighton, whose good run of games may be coming to an end.
Despite this, it seems as though some of these games will prove challenging. The team simply hasn’t found its feet yet, and will likely need time.
West Ham’s Christmas run couldn’t get off to a more difficult start as they face Chelsea on 4th December. However, Chelsea just drew to Manchester United, who have not looked great lately.
West Ham has arguably performed much better than Man U this season, and with this fixture being a London derby anything could happen.
Following that, they go against Burnley. This shouldn’t be too difficult, and they have the quality to beat them.
They also have the quality to beat their next opponent, Arsenal. After that things get a little bit easier as the team faces Norwich, Southampton, and Watford. Overall we could see West Ham retain their top four challenging forms and come out of the Christmas period smelling of roses.
Christmas is often cited as one of the most difficult periods in the Premier League season. It is undoubtedly a dramatic period in which injuries and congested fixtures can cause serious issues for teams that have been performing well.