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EPL Review: The Christmas Period – Really make or Break time in the Premier League?

Another hectic Christmas fixture list has come to an end and once again with the dust having settled we can see the real contenders for the years Barclays Premier League. But does the festive period really make or break a team’s season, asks The Daily Shift’s Cian Roche

Martin O'Neill and Sunderland forced Manchester City's hand again at the stadium of light

Martin O’Neill and Sunderland forced Manchester City’s hand again at the stadium of light

Premier League front runners Manchester United and Manchester City send signals of intent, both claiming 4 wins during the jam packed schedule.

The decisive stumbling block for City again proved to be Sunderland away, similar to last year on New Years day when they conceded a last gasp goal to fall to defeat at the hands of O’Neill’s men.

United on the other hand remained unbeaten, only dropping points to Swansea in the Liberty Stadium, a ground which has become like a fortress in recent weeks.

The cold snap hit Newcastle hard, recording just three points from a possible 15 in the league and conceding a whopping 15 goals.
A promising start to the season  has made the slip to 15th look even more drastic. With the departure of top goal-scorer Demba Ba to Chelsea it’s hard to see where the points will come from now.

Similarly Aston Villa had a miserable New Year with just four points from 15, the shock away win at Liverpool was followed by three straight defeats. The 8-0 thrashing at the hands of Chelsea demoralised the squad who went on to concede 9 more goals in the following three matches.

However it was not all doom and gloom with AVB’s men delivering at the perfect time. Sceptics of Andres Villas-Boas may have been silenced by Spurs shock 2-3 at Old Trafford and further evidence of his class showed with remaining unbeaten and conceding only twice in 5 games.

Fixtures had been kind to Spurs but top class performances from Bale and Defoe have Tottenham sitting pretty in third.

Chelsea look re-energised and ready to challenge third and possibly second. New addition Ba settled in well scoring twice on his debut for the Blues and 12 points over the Christmas period has given Rafa Benitez something to smile about.

However has the festive season in the Premier League run its course? Calls from managers throughout the League has forced the FA to reconsider the fixture list or introduce a Christmas break.

Speaking on  Sky Sports popular Saturday morning football show “Soccer AM”, West Ham manager Sam Allardyce said that the fixtures do not promote excitement but only “fatigue and injury”. Perhaps this is the case and one wonders just how badly it affects a team’s season as a whole.

“Great escapes” from both Wigan and QPR last season illustrate it is not impossible to redeem a plummeting season but the Christmas fixtures do set the tone for the remainder.
Partly due to Manchester United’s inability to retain an eight-point lead, but the final day of the season last year saw possibly the greatest finish to a season in living memory and stemmed from a Manchester City revival.

Although teams eventually go through patches of poor form it is unfair to blame one month of fixtures on a team’s capitulation.Possibly in the future we will see an introduction of a Christmas break, but in the mean let us sit back and enjoy the thrills and spills of the festive period in the company of our favourite teams. Moments of such madness and class are the presents that really don’t need wrapping up.

*Lead image via Wikimedia Commons
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