Top of the tree at Christmas – will Liverpool still be there in May?
Liverpool are top of the Premier League at Christmas after another Luis Suarez-inspired home victory last weekend.
Good omen or bad omen? It’s good when you consider that the team leading the pack when Santa comes has gone on to win the Premiership for the past four seasons. But it’s bad when you note that the last club not to go on to claim the title was Liverpool themselves.
Anyway, we shouldn’t be reading too much into this either way in such an incredibly open season. Just two points separate the top five clubs – Liverpool (5/1 with Coral)), Arsenal (5/1), Manchester City (11/10), Chelsea (9/2) and Everton (33/1), while champions Manchester United (16/1), though six to eight points behind this group, are climbing back into serious contention.
There’s a good chance that Liverpool’s lead won’t last beyond Boxing Day with a trip across the M62 to face a Manchester City side in devastating form at home and 4/5 to win again with Coral. This is a huge test for the Reds and though they are likely to give the title favourites a better run for their money than other teams brushed aside this season, chances are they will still go home with nothing.
Now here’s a thing. A Merseyside team may still be top of the pile going into the New Year, but it might well be Everton.
Roberto Martinez’s team continue to impress as they launch a genuine challenge for a Champions League spot (11/4 with Coral). And while Liverpool go to Chelsea straight after their daunting date at the Etihad, Everton now have a run of games (Sunderland and Southampton at home, Stoke away and Norwich at home) that will have their fans believing that they could be top of the pops by mid-January, if not before.
Sunderland, scrapping for every point, will not roll over on Boxing Day, but this looks like another win for Everton (4/11), who hope to have Leighton Baines available again after injury.
Spurs played some great stuff when winning 3-2 at Southampton on Sunday, a victory which clinched the manager’s job on a permanent basis for Tim Sherwood, or as permanent as is gets in the Premier League these days.
Sherwood promises football played on the front foot, which is good news, although a gung-ho approach will inevitably backfire on occasions.
They are 1/2 to beat managerless West Brom and that would appear the logical outcome, but these are still uncertain times at White Hart Lane – one swallow doesn’t make a summer – and the Baggies (5/1 to win, 100/30 the draw) might not leave empty handed.
Southampton (11/8) played their full part in what was a cracking game and after a run of disappointing results, look ready to get back on track at Cardiff, who, despite the Christmas truce, are still in a mess off the pitch and quite understandably struggling on it.