At a time when most footballers across Europe take a well-earned break from the beautiful game, Premier League players endure a tough two weeks that see them play four matches in fewer than two weeks.
This heavy programme often goes a long way towards determining which club will win the Premier League and who will be relegated.
All but three clubs that were leading the Premier League on Christmas Day in the 11 seasons since 2008/09 have gone on to win.
And in three cases it was Liverpool that lost out on the big prize at the end of the season as they gave away a Christmas Day lead in the 2008/09 season to Manchester United, then to Manchester City in 2013/14 and 2018/19.
However, this time around, Jürgen Klopp and his men owned the festive season hands down.
After Roberto Firmino’s extra-time goal gave the Reds a 1-0 victory against Flamengo to win the Fifa Club World Cup in mid-December, the team moved straight back into Premier League mode, gaining maximum points from their three games, with the match against West Ham being postponed due to Club World Cup commitments.
Liverpool’s last league defeat dates back to January 3 last year, when Manchester City beat them 2-1.
Since then, they have played 37 matches, winning all but five. Not surprisingly, there has been talk of The Reds being invincible this season.
Klopp has said he is not scared of losing: “You don’t fear losing in the situation we are in, but you still know it is possible. It is one of three possible results – you win, you draw or you lose. I constantly try to make sure of increasing the probability to win a football game, [but] there’s always the other team.
“I am not sure what [former Arsenal head coach] Arsène Wenger thought back in the days when they were ‘The Invincibles’ [Arsenal went without defeat in 2003/04] – if he knew before the game that they would win anyway.
“It’s not like that for me, unfortunately. It would be really cool if I knew before the game. But I can only say we don’t fear losing – I never did, it is a possibility, but I don’t fear it. I try to create as many solutions as possible to win the game. Sometimes it works out, sometimes not.”
To give Liverpool even more festive cheer, their closest rivals all dropped points. Unlikely challengers Leicester City lost 3-1 to Manchester City and were given a 4-0 hiding by Liverpool at home, while defending champions Manchester City were stunned 3-2 by Wolverhampton Wanderers.
That defeat, coming 24 hours after Boxing Day, all but delivered a knock-out blow to Pep Guardiola’s championship hopes as it left Liverpool with 14 points and a game in hand ahead of the Citizens.
The Spaniard admitted after the defeat at Wolves that the title was probably out of reach.
“The advantage is too big. It’s unrealistic to think about Liverpool; we think about Leicester. We have the chance to recover second place. I know the quality of my team, but that’s the situation.”
City and Leicester were not the only clubs that dropped points and were looking for a top-four position. Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur each lost and drew one of their four matches over the festive season, while Manchester United lost twice.
In fact, the only two clubs that could compete with Liverpool during this time were struggling Watford and Southampton, which both won three games and drew the other to keep their hopes of Premier League survival alive.
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