Red Letter: Heavy festive fixtures can give Liverpool a title edge

Liverpool: Tipped for Boxing Day delight

We look at how the Premier League table could shape up and could continue to favour Liverpool as the busy festive fixture list draws ever closer.

Decorations. Lights being turned on. Shelves stacked with seasonal chocolate. The new John Lewis advert.

If you want to start getting into the Christmas spirit, there are certainly enough prompts.

I’m staying clear of it for now. Too soon.

And yet, there is one context in which I want to discuss Christmas.

A popular conversation amongst Liverpool fans at the moment is that, thanks to a relatively straightforward fixture list, we have a great chance to extend our lead at the top of the table.

I’ve heard things like “we could be five points clear at Christmas” although the lad that said that had absolutely no idea who are rivals were playing during the six-game run that takes us to December 25.

So I decided to investigate.

It’s an inexact science obviously but listing current Premier League positions of the opposition helps. There are 18 points to be played for although the teams involved in Europe who have made it through to the last eight of the League Cup have nine games between now and Santa coming down the chimney.

Their heavier fixture load has to benefit Liverpool – and, of course, our nearest rivals Chelsea.

Jurgen Klopp may not be happy after failing to see the load eased – but actually, it could yet benefit Liverpool.

So, here goes. Let the unbiased (honest) guessing games begin.



10th Southampton (a)

20th Sunderland (h)

13th Bournemouth (a)

17th West Ham (h)

15th Middlesbrough (a)

7th Everton (a)

Average position of opposition: 13.67

Assessment: Liverpool have lots of winnable game here with a home tie against Leeds in the League Cup our only distraction from trying to pile on the points in the League. There are four away games in this half-dozen so there may be a couple of draws in there.

Total points: 14



Chelsea: Reveling in new 3-4-3 formation

15th Middlesbrough (a)

5th Spurs (h)

3rd Man City (a)

11th West Brom (h)

20th Sunderland (a)

16th Crystal Palace (a)

Average position of opposition: 11.67

Assessment: Like Liverpool, Chelsea benefit from no European football and, like us, they have four games on the road. Spurs are unbeaten and Man City will be very tough so points could go there.

Total points: 13


Man City

Sergio Aguero: Congratulated on Man City opener

16th Crystal Palace (a)

9th Burnley (a)

2nd Chelsea (h)

14th Leicester (a)

8th Watford (h)

4th Arsenal (h)

Average position of opposition: 8.83

Assessment: This could be a tough stretch for Pep and co. At least the games against Chelsea and Arsenal are at The Etihad but trips to Burnley and Leicester won’t be easy, especially as they come on the back of Champions League games.

Total points: 12



Theo Walcott: In fine form for Arsenal

6th Man Utd (a)

13th Bournemouth (h)

17th West Ham (a)

12th Stoke (h)

7th Everton (a)

3rd Man City (a)

Average position of opposition: 9.67

Assessment: Arsenal travel to three of the current top seven and also have two Champions League games (home to PSG and away to Basel) along with a trip to Southampton in the League Cup. Not easy.

Total points: 10



Harry Kane: On the spot for Tottenham

17th West Ham (h)

2nd Chelsea (a)

19th Swansea (h)

6th Man Utd (a)

18th Hull (h)

9th Burnley (h)


Average position of opposition: 11.83

Assessment: Spurs have four home games and they’ll want to cash in at White Hart Lane given that they also travel to Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford. They’ll hope two further Champions League games won’t sap confidence.

Total points: 11


Man Utd

4th Arsenal (h)

17th West Ham (h)

7th Everton (a)

5th Spurs (h)

16th Crystal Palace (a)

11th West Brom (a)

Average position of opposition: 10.00

Assessment: Amongst those six games are two of those pesky Europa League fixtures and a League Cup tie with West Ham.

Total points: 12


Now the fun bit – adding these estimated tallies to current points. The Christmas table comes out like this.

Liverpool: Moved on from United draw


1st Liverpool 40pts

2nd Chelsea 38pts

3rd Man City 36pts

4th Arsenal 34pts

5th Spurs 32pts

6th Man Utd 30pts


Would we settle for that? I certainly would. It’s not the big gap that some Reds might hope for but it’s a reasonable expectation given that all our five rivals have at least two games against other members of the top six and are therefore guaranteed to take points off each other.

One of the other reasons why I’d shake on that table now is that we would have played 10 of our 17 Premier League games on the road at that stage.

In other words, we’d have more home matches left than any other team.

The tough fixture list we had at the start of the season worked in two ways. It fuelled us with confidence when we did so well in those matches and also left patches in the fixture list where we had the chance to bank big points. In theory, our run until Christmas is one of those.


Southampton clash not to be taken lightly

Jordan Henderson

I could go on about turkeys and stuffing the opposition but, like I said, I’m not ready for the Festive period yet. And you can bet Jurgen Klopp won’t be letting the players’ minds wander too far forward.

So channel your inner Jordan Henderson, imagine him saying “we’ll take each game as it comes” and focus for now on the first of those six matches – Saturday’s trip to Southampton.

This is one of the harder-looking games in our run to Christmas but we did thrash them 6-1 at St Mary’s in last season’s League Cup.

Southampton took revenge in the Premier League when they wiped out our early 2-0 lead to win 3-2 but there was a fella on their side that day called Sadio Mane who scored twice.

He’s wreaking havoc for, rather than against, us now and a goal against his former club would be a predictable and welcome storyline from a Reds point of view.

Philippe Coutinho has also netted in three of his previous four starts at St Mary’s in the Premier League so I think we’ll have too much goal threat.

You can be forgiven for saying that as a Liverpool fan these days. We’ve smashed in 40 goals in our opening 14 games in all competitions.

And, if you like a stat, Opta informs us that it’s our best tally over the opening 14 games since 1895-96!

Maybe it does feel like Christmas already.