Festive schedule over in Premier League; winners and losers
by Rex Factor Scores & Statson
Three sides picked up 10 points from four fixtures
Many top European leagues have only 18 teams, meaning there are just 34 fixtures through a season that spans from August until May. But England’s top league, the Premiership, has 20 teams for a total of 38 games – a home and home against each other foe.
With most schedules mirroring each other for most of the calendar year throughout Europe (including breaks for international play, the Champions League, and Europa League), that means the Premier League has to find a way to jam in four extra fixtures. While leagues in Spain, Italy, and Germany enjoy relatively tranquil times around Christmas and the New Year, England jams in four games in less than two weeks. Tottenham’s 1-1 draw against West Ham at Wembley on Thursday evening was the last of a stretch of at least one fixture on 10 straight days that started with 16 of the 20 teams playing on Boxing Day. Each team played 3 games in those 10 days, a flurry of activity that could end up proving telling at the end of the year when it comes to relegation and/or spots in Europe for the 2018-19 season.
While Spurs were unable to nab a win despite laying 1.75 goals, they did still pull out three wins over Burnley, Southampton, and Swansea and no one else outpointed them during the Christmas glut.
Liverpool was able to eke out a draw at the Emirates against Arsenal in a 3-3 thriller to kick off the festive schedule on Dec. 22. The Reds then beat Swansea, Leicester City and Burnley to also haul 10 points.
League leaders Manchester City had their record-breaking winning streak halted in a draw against Crystal Palace, but also picked up 10 points to extend their chokehold atop the table by beating Bournemouth, Newcastle United and Watford.
Chelsea scooped up seven points during the period, while the other two ‘Big Six’ sides were able to pick up six points. Arsenal and Manchester United each played to three draws in their four fixtures.
Burnley has been the surprise side of the season under Sean Dyche but their Turf Moor fortress has been penetrated this season far more than last. Defeats against Tottenham and Liverpool at home were sandwiched around road draws against Manchester United and Huddersfield Town. Burnley still sits in seventh on 34 points through 22 games despite coming up with just two points during the festive time. Soton, West Bromwich and Everton each also were only able to come up with two draws and two losses.
Newcastle picked up seven points and were the big winners from the teams fighting the relegation battle. West Ham and Crystal Palace each picked up five points, tying for eighth over the span.
The league takes a break this weekend, as the FA Cup’s round of 64 resumed in earnest Friday and runs through the weekend. Matchday 23 of the Premier League starts with seven fixtures over the weekend beginning Jan. 13. Manchester City is the runaway leader with 62 points. Manchester United sit second on 47, with Chelsea, Liverpool, and Tottenham rounding out the European spots.