What happened to the Premier League teams who led the table on Christmas Day?


It’s a good omen in English football. If you’re team’s top of the pile while you tuck into your Christmas turkey, you stand a pretty good chance of winning the Premier League the following summer. 

In fact, it’s happened in 15 of the last 30 seasons since the new version of the top flight kicked off in 1992 – but of course not every team is able to maintain their stranglehold on the league crown after surging to the top at the half way point.

As it stands, Manchester City lead the standings on 44 points as we go into Christmas Day, the first time they’ve done so since 2018 after three years of Liverpool topping the charts. 

But what happened to the rest of the teams who led the table on Christmas Day? Did they hold on for glory or capitulate towards the end of the season? Sportsmail dives into the archives to take a look. 

Manchester City lead the Premier League table on Christmas Day, but what happened to previous teams who led the pack on the half way point?

1992-93 – NORWICH CITY

FINAL POSITION: 3RD 

Back in the 1992-93 season – the Premier League’s inaugural campaign – the Canaries were leading contenders for relegation but sprang a shock by going eight points clear at the top of the table on Christmas. 

Norwich were leading the pack with 39 points from 20 games – inlcuding 12 wins and five defeats – but the problems were put on display after letting in as many as they had scored and going into Christmas Day with a goal difference of zero. They were eventually caught by Aston Villa, who finished second, and Manchester United – who won their first title under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Their season was surprise for many who had tipped them for the drop but they still qualified for Europe – even though their efforts were only enough for a UEFA Cup spot back in the day. 

1993-94 – MANCHESTER UNITED

FINAL POSITION: 1ST

It was back to back Premier League titles for the Red Devils and Sir Alex as Andy Cole’s 34 goals fired them to the top flight crown once again.

They went into Christmas Day in a much better position than the Canaries a year prior – with 52 points from 21, having amassed 16 wins and tasting defeat just once.

An unlike Norwich there was to be no collapse as they finished on 92 points – comfortably clear of 2nd placed Blackburn on 84.  

Manchester United - led by the heroics of Eric Cantona - eased to the title in the 93-94 season

Manchester United – led by the heroics of Eric Cantona – eased to the title in the 93-94 season

1994-95 – BLACKBURN ROVERS

FINAL POSITION: 1ST 

The famous tale of the Rovers that stood the test of time. Many expected Blackburn to collapse after finishing as runners up the previous season, despite soaring to the top of the standings on Christmas Day with 43 points and Manchester United breathing down their necks. 

An impressive squad spearheaded by Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton had scored 41 times and had only lost twice, and it took until the final day to confirm that had gazumped the threat of United. 

Kenny Dalglish’s men had surged to eight points clear before three losses in five threatened to derail their dreams. Even though they lost 2-1 to Liverpool, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men could only draw 1-1 with West Ham, and the title went to Ewood Park as Rovers finished with 89 points – one ahead of United.

1995-96 – NEWCASTLE UNITED 

FINAL POSITION: 2ND 

Another underdog hoping to fight off the challenge of Manchester United but ultimately Kevin Keegan’s ambitious side just ran out of steam.

Newcastle were on 45 points come Christmas with 40 goals scored and just two losses as the goals of Shearer boosted the Magpies – but the legendary Premier League sharpshooter could not do all the heavy lifting on his own.

A rocky patch in March hurt the Tyneside outfit after losses to United, Arsenal and Liverpool – and while they recovered in the following months – they ultimate fell away after firing a blank in the final two matches, drawing 1-1 against Forest and Spurs and ending up with 78 points, with United pipping them to the title with 82. 

Kevin Keegan's Newcastle led the table on Christmas Day but a rough patch saw Manchester United overtake them to win the crown

Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle led the table on Christmas Day but a rough patch saw Manchester United overtake them to win the crown

1996-97 – LIVERPOOL 

FINAL POSITION: 4TH 

The Reds have the joint-highest record for most times top of the league on Christmas – six times along with Manchester United – and the first time was to end in bitter disappointment. 

Then managed by Roy Evans, Liverpool had racked up 38 points at the mid stage of the season with 11 wins, five draws and three defeats, but they would be nowhere near the top come the final day. 

It was Manchester United who scooped the crown, finishing with 75 points – the lowest total to win the league –  while Liverpool plummetted down to fourth place, only qualifying for the UEFA Cup on goal difference after finishing level on points with Newcastle and Arsenal on 68.

1997-98 – MANCHESTER UNITED

FINAL POSITION: 2ND

The hunters became the prey in the 1997-1998 season as United – so often the ones chasing teams for the title – were caught themselves.

Ending with 43 on Christmas Day – the were unable to secure a fifth Premier League title as Arsenal won the prize for the first time after a fierce battle. 

The fight went all the way to the last day as the Gunners pipped United to the title by a point, as the Red Devils finished with 77 points. 

1998-99 – ASTON VILLA 

FINAL POSITION: 6TH

The biggest collapse in Premier League title race history. 

It wasn’t to be for the Villans, who had shocked English football by going ahead with 36 points on Christmas with ten wins from 18, but they would pick up just 19 more as they finished on 55. 

Dion Dublin and Julian Joachim chipped in with 28 goals between them but Villa ended up failing to even qualify for Europe as they finished 14 points off eventual winners Man United – a shocking decline. 

Dion Dublin's heroics carried Aston Villa to the top on Christmas before they fell away

Dion Dublin’s heroics carried Aston Villa to the top on Christmas before they fell away

1999-00 – LEEDS UNITED

FINAL POSITION: 3RD

It was their best chance of reclaiming their first title since 1992, but ultimately Leeds blew it. 

Top of the charts on Christmas with 41 points after storming to 13 wins, the Whites looked in a strong position to take the crown of Man United.

But Sir Alex Ferguson’s men had too much for them as they ran away with the title after racking up 91 points, with Leeds fading away into third on just 69 points, as Arsenal leapfrogged them into second. 

2000-01 – MANCHESTER UNITED

FINAL POSITION: 1ST 

Another enthralling title shootout with Arsenal saw the Red Devils edge ahead of them on Christmas Day with 43 points.

But the Gunners weren’t able to follow up on their 1997-98 crown as their bitter rivals stormed to a fairly straightforward title. 

United finished with 80 points – ten clear of Arsenal on 70 to claim their 7th Premier League title and 14th top division trophy. 

2001-02 – NEWCASTLE UNITED 

FINAL POSITION: 4TH

The Magpies were flying high under Sir Bobby Robson in the 2001-02 season despite racking up one of the lowest points totals for a Christmas leader – 36.

But despite the efforts of Alan Shearer and Co, they had no answer to Arsenal as they stormed to the Premier League title with 87 points.

The brilliance of Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Denis Bergkamp helped the Gunners on their way, while Newcastle fell away to fourth place and ended up with 71 points.

Sir Bobby Robson's Newcastle suffered more title heartbreak as they fell to a brilliant Arsenal

Sir Bobby Robson’s Newcastle suffered more title heartbreak as they fell to a brilliant Arsenal

2002-03 – ARSENAL

FINAL POSITION: 2ND 

Into the heat of the Arsenal/United conflict, and it was the Red Devils who would again haunt Arsene Wenger’s men.

The Gunners were enjoying themselves on Christmas Day with 39 points and while the defending champions put up an almighty fight, nothing could stop United edging towards title number 15.

Ruud van Nistelrooy finished as top scorer as he led the way for a team that had become a powerhouse of English football. 

2003-04 – MANCHESTER UNITED 

FINAL POSITION: 3RD

How the tables turned.

United felt the wrath of Arsenal as they ran into the famed Invincibles side of 03-04. No side had an answer to the Gunners, even though they trailed United at Christmas.

United had 40 points at the half way stage but there was nothing they could do to dent their rivals’ hopes as they simply would not lose.

Arsenal finished top with 90 points after 26 wins, 12 draws and zero defeats, while Chelsea pipped United to second as Sir Alex’s side ended up in third with 75 points.  

Manchester United were top on Christmas in 03-04 but had no answer to Arsenal's Invincibles

Manchester United were top on Christmas in 03-04 but had no answer to Arsenal’s Invincibles

2004-05 – CHELSEA

FINAL POSITION: 1ST

Enter Jose Mourinho. 

There was no letting up from the Blues when the Special One arrived on the scene in 2004, as they raced into a lead at the top of the Premier League with 43 points on Christmas Day – having lost just once. 

And Mourinho’s side led by Frank Lampard and Co blew the rest of the contenders out of the water as they broke the record for most wins (29) and most points (95). 

2005-06 – CHELSEA

FINAL POSITION: 1ST

It was an even better Christmas for Mourinho’s Chelsea the following year as they found themselves three points better off after another near-flawless start to their Premier League campaign.

With 15 wins and another 37 goals scored at the half way stage, they were on course to break even more records under their talented new Portuguese boss.

But while they didn’t manage to better their overall points total come May, they equalled their number of wins and ended with 91 points – safe from the threat of second-placed United, who could only muster 83. 

Chelsea saw off Manchester United for the second year in a row to cruise to yet another title

Chelsea saw off Manchester United for the second year in a row to cruise to yet another title 

2006-07 – MANCHESTER UNITED

FINAL POSITION: 1ST 

The re-emergence of United. 

Sir Alex’s men were back on top as they romped to 47 points at Christmas, with brilliant seasons from Cristiano Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs helping them see off the threat of Chelsea.

And it stayed that way until the finish as they ended up on 89 points after a grandstand finish to the season, as Chelsea pushed them all the way but finished six points behind on 83. 

2007-08 – ARSENAL 

FINAL POSITION: 3RD 

Arsene Wenger knew as well as any manager how to be a success in the Premier League but towards the end of this decade he started to lose his midas touch during a tough transitional time for the Gunners.

The team had just made their move to the Emirates from Highbury and were no longer able to mount regular bids for the title, with Thierry Henry’s departure to Barcelona hitting them hard in this campaign. 

That didn’t stop them from making a solid start, however, winning eight of their first nine games as they led the way on 43 points for Christmas. But a host of draws towards the end of the campaign cost them as they ended up falling to third place on 83 points, with Manchester United reigning supreme again and Chelsea moving above them too.  

Arsenal were in a transition period in 07-08 and while they made a good start it all fell apart

Arsenal were in a transition period in 07-08 and while they made a good start it all fell apart 

2008-09 – LIVERPOOL

FINAL POSITION: 2ND

The second time the Reds have led the pack on Christmas, and they came mighty close to rocking the apple cart on this occasion. 

But they didn’t have enough to stop United winning a third successive league crown despite leading the way with 39 points on Christmas Day, having lost just once.

It was a time when Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres were oozing class under Rafa Benitez and it really looked like they might beat United to the prize when they thrashed them 4-1 at Old Trafford. But Liverpool simply drew too many games throughout the season (11) and the Red Devils simply didn’t drop enough points – finishing four points ahead of Liverpool on 90. 

Manchester United held off a valiant challenge from Liverpool to win another title in 2008-09

Manchester United held off a valiant challenge from Liverpool to win another title in 2008-09

2009-10 – CHELSEA

FINAL POSITION: 1ST 

Carlo Ancelotti arrived at Stamford Bridge to stop another spell of dominance for United as the likes of Didier Drogba and Nicholas Anelka delivered to bring the title back to west London.

Chelsea had 41 points on Christmas Day, rifling in 43 goals at the half way point. It was tight in the end, as they finished just a point ahead of United in May – earning 86 points overall courtesy of an 8-0 mauling of Wigan on the final day.

It was a memorable season for the Blues as they also won the FA Cup to complete a league and cup double. 

2010-11 – MANCHESTER UNITED

FINAL POSITION: 1ST 

The brilliance of Dimitar Berbatov was key to ensuring United won their 12th Premier League crown. He netted 20 goals for the season to finish as joint-top scorer, with his side enjoying a Christmas Day top of the pops with 34 points.

It might not have been the most stylish and talented Man United side in recent years, but it may have been one of the most resilient as they went into December 25 having yet to lose a game.

Chelsea kept pace for most of the season but were ultimately not a match as United finished with a relatively low 80 points, but that was still enough to be nine clear. 

2011-12 – MANCHESTER CITY

FINAL POSITION: 1ST

You could say it was destiny that the ‘noisy neighbours’ would win their first Premier League trophy after that famous ‘Aguerooooo’ goal clinched it from United on the final day with a 3-2 win over QPR, despite United beating Sunderland. 

Manager Roberto Mancini had repeatedly given up hope of winning the title, even though his dominant side had looked favourites to take the crown home having led the table on Christmas with 44 points.

Even more impressive was that his side had scored the most goals at that stage at the time (53), and the exciting Sky Blues team went on to snatch the crown off their bitter rivals right at the last with an iconic Premier League moment.

Manchester City went top in Christmas in 2011 and stayed on course for a historic title win

Manchester City went top in Christmas in 2011 and stayed on course for a historic title win 

2012-13 – MANCHESTER UNITED

FINAL POSITION: 1ST

It was only fitting that Sir Alex Ferguson’s swansong at United ended with yet another Premier League trophy in his hands, going out with a 13th title. 

The veteran boss had plenty of goalscoring heroes during his time and Robin van Persie proved to be another one as his 26 goals fired United to glory. 

The Red Devils were challenged for the crown by rivals Man City again but there was to be no final day shock this time as they held out to win by a comfortable 11 points, rounding things off with 89. 

2013-14 – LIVERPOOL

FINAL POSITION: 2ND 

An agonising season for the Merseyside as they came crushingly close again to picking up their first Premier League title. 

The campaign will be remembered, from a Reds points of view, for Steven Gerrard’s horror slip that was crucial in allowing Chelsea to seal a 2-0 win that went on to seal their collapse to allow Man City to win the title. 

It had all looked so promising for Liverpool, who were ahead on Christmas with 36 points, and while it was a close run-in, City edged them to the title by two points. 

Steven Gerrard suffered a crucial slip against Chelsea as Liverpool surrendered their lead and capitulated in 2014, handing the title to Man City

Steven Gerrard suffered a crucial slip against Chelsea as Liverpool surrendered their lead and capitulated in 2014, handing the title to Man City

2014-15 – CHELSEA

FINAL POSITION: 1ST  

It didn’t take Jose Mourinho long to get accustomed to the Premier League again as he won the title at the second time of asking. 

Ten years on from his first Premier League title, Mourinho signed Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa, who netted him 20 goals and was critical to his side’s surge up the division. 

Manchester City were their main challengers for the trophy, but the Sky Blues didn’t pose much of a threat as they ended up eight points behind the Blues. 

2015-16 – LEICESTER CITY 

FINAL POSITION: 1ST 

The fairytale showed no signs of coming to a premature end despite the gloomy predictions of many fans and pundits that the Foxes would falter. 

Claudio Ranieri’s iconic ‘Dilly Ding, Dilly Dong’ catchphrase summed up the feel-good factor at the King Power, as they pulled off one of the greatest sporting achievements despite being tipped for relegation. 

Leicester only won four of their first ten games, but they only dropped four points between October and Christmas, earning 38 points by December 25, and their gravy train just kept on going as they beat off pressure from Tottenham and Arsenal to clinch an unthinkable title with 81 points – ten clear of the Gunners.  

Leicester City made a brilliant start to 2015-16 and proved all the doubters wrong by winning the Premier League to cap off a fairytale story

Leicester City made a brilliant start to 2015-16 and proved all the doubters wrong by winning the Premier League to cap off a fairytale story

2016-17 – CHELSEA 

FINAL POSITION: 1ST 

Antonio Conte had picked up a team who had just finished 10th under Jose Mourinho and interim boss Guus Hiddink and helped them realise their true potential, revitalising the likes of Costa and forming a rock solid defence. 

Chelsea were so good by the time December came around that it appeared they had few true title rivals – although Tottenham made a late surge to threaten a challenge – before falling away.

And they would finish with 93 points, seven clear of second placed Tottenham in a supremely confident showing all season long.  

2017-18 – MANCHESTER CITY

FINAL POSITION: 1ST 

A record breaking year for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City, who smashed the biggest points total, winning the title with 100 points.

It should be no surprise, then, that they racked up the most points on Christmas Day (55) and the most goals (60) – with zero defeats and just 12 goals conceded.

No one got close to the Sky Blues that year – with Mourinho’s United finishing 19 points off their rivals. 

Man City stormed to a commanding lead at Christmas 2017 and ended up with 100 points

Man City stormed to a commanding lead at Christmas 2017 and ended up with 100 points 

2018-19 – LIVERPOOL

FINAL POSITION: 2ND

It would have been tough for any team to go toe-to-toe with this City side, who were in full swing under Guardiola – and the truth is Jurgen Klopp’s men could not have done anything more. 

They went into Christmas unbeaten, earning 48 points and winning 15 of their 18 games, but unfortunately for the Reds faithful it simply wasn’t enough. 

Liverpool would agonisingly miss out on the title by just a point – despite picking up a stunning 97 points. It wasn’t all heartbreak for the team as they became the Champions of Europe instead that summer. 

2019-20 – LIVERPOOL 

FINAL POSITION: 1ST 

Nothing was going to stop Klopp’s men this time.

Hot on the heels of their Champions League triumph, Liverpool kept the good feeling going as they picked up one more point than they did the previous year at Christmas (49), and this time winning 16 of their first 17 games, drawing just once against Manchester United. 

Even though the emergence of Covid threatened to derail their stunning season, they picked up where they left off after Project Restart and finished with 99 points, one off the record set by Manchester City – winning their first title since 1990. 

Liverpool put the disappointment of losing the 2018-19 title to City behind them as they cruised to win the 2019-20 crown

Liverpool put the disappointment of losing the 2018-19 title to City behind them as they cruised to win the 2019-20 crown

2020-21 – LIVERPOOL 

FINAL POSITION: 3RD

Liverpool couldn’t maintain the same momentum they had in the previous two years – mainly due to a crippling injury crisis, as well as a disrupted fixture list with teams still struggling with a rammed schedule.

With the season starting later, Liverpool had nine wins before Christmas – with a thumping 7-0 win over Crystal Palace sending them top on December 25. 

But they would go on to pick up just three wins between that point and March, with the depleted squad failing to flourish. They would end up with just 69 points, falling away to allow United and eventual winners Man City above them.



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