We’re having everyone to ours on Christmas Day, so its been a very busy couple of days in our house.
Get the meat out the freezer. Check the league table. Peel some vegetables. Check the league table. Last minute run to the supermarket for more booze. Check the league table. Clean. Check the league table. Hoover. Check the league table. Have a sit down and lovely long look at the league table!
I don’t know if you have heard, but Liverpool are top of the Premier League table at Christmas.
On Christmas Day we’ll be serving top of the league turkey with top of the league roast potatoes. My brother in law is an Evertonian. It’s a good job he’s alright because he’s going to be sick to death of me asking him to pass me the top of the league stuffing by 4pm tomorrow.
There is a long way to go, of course, and titles aren’t handed out at the end of December. Just top of the league pigs and blankets. But being top of the league on Christmas Day is a good omen.
In fact, the only team to be top of the league on Christmas Day this decade and not to go on to win the league was…Liverpool. Typical.
That year was 2013/14 and a remarkable season that ended, to all extents and purposes, with a cruel Gerrard slip. There was a lot of factors to consider why Liverpool bucked the Christmas Day trend that year though.
Firstly, Liverpool were only top that year on goal difference ahead of Arsenal, and were only one point ahead of Manchester City, who would eventually win it.
They were also just about to have probably the two toughest fixtures of the season, away at Man City and away at Chelsea, before the end of the year.
Liverpool lost both of those games, and because of the tight nature of the league at that time, what then Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho called “a unique situation, an unbelievable championship because we are all there”, Liverpool actually finished 2013 in fifth.
Liverpool also didn’t have a lot of good players that year.
Of course Suarez was on fire, Sturridge was in the form of his life and Phil Coutinho and Raheem Sterling were emerging as the stars they would become. But the team was filled up with lads doing a job and we had absolutely nothing on the bench.
Well actually we had Iago Aspas, which was worse.
When your manager is complaining of the loss of a young and raw Jordan Henderson for the last few games because we had no one to replace him, you see the situation we were in.
Players were injured but having to play. Steven Gerrard needed injections in his back just to get on the pitch. By the end we just had nothing left.
Now it is much different. First of all, we are four points clear at the top now and six clear of Spurs in third. Then it’s a big jump to Arsenal and Chelsea in 4th and 5th and an even bigger jump to the rest.
Liverpool are in a much stronger position.
They also have two home games coming up rather than two tough away ones in 2013. Newcastle and Arsenal won’t be easy for different reasons, but you’d be surprised if Liverpool lost either, never mind both.
Finally, the squad is just so much stronger now. Earlier this month Liverpool went to Burnley without Salah, Mane and Firmino in the starting line up and still won 3-1.
Whatever team Liverpool pick now is formidable and if they can’t do it there are players on the bench who can. Liverpool have won more points from the bench this season than the whole of last already.
Man City are still really good and Spurs don’t look like they are going anywhere either, which is most annoying.
But, Liverpool are top for a reason and they’ll take some catching now.
I’m eyeing up the top of the league Easter eggs already.