Premier League: Three festive trends support Arsenal title candidacy

Olivier Giroud has scored 12 goals in his last 13 Premier League or Champions League outings for Arsenal
Olivier Giroud has scored 12 goals in his last 13 Premier League or Champions League outings for Arsenal

Arsenal's Christmas lead over Man City and Man United will prove significant come May, judging by these patterns...

Arsenal may not be top of the Premier League at Christmas, but they are Yuletide title favourites after a 2-1 victory over former frontrunners Manchester City left them two points behind leaders Leicester and four clear of the Citizens, with Tottenham and Manchester United three further back.

This writer has been sceptical of their ability to end a 12-year wait to finish first, yet three separate trends surrounding their December 25 position in the table suggest that they are worthy of their 2.186/5 billing...

Arsenal specialise in swooping from second

The Gunners weren't winter champions in any of the three previous campaigns that they won the Premier League, recovering the longest December 25 in the division's existence (13 points) in 1997/98 and springing from second in both 2001/02 (when three points adrift) and 2003/04 (one).

By contrast, there have been two occasions in which they reached this juncture in the ascendancy and neither delivered the desirable conclusion, as the Londoners slipped to second in 2002/03 and third in 2007/08.

The rest of the chasers are too far back

In the past 12 seasons, there have only been four instances of the Christmas pacesetters being overhauled and in three of those years, it was someone within a win's reach of the first-placed team who claimed the title.

Even the anomaly was a similar scenario really as, though Man United were seven points adrift in 2008/09, they had two games in hand and were averaging two points per outing, so they were a lot closer than the table portrayed.

The last time a gap from the summit at the start of the festive season the size that Man City (six), Man United or Tottenham (nine apiece) currently encounter was overturned was way back in 1997/98, so there is no recent precedent to indicate that any of them can.

Man City and co lack the experience

Eleven of the dozen post-Christmas title race transformations in Premier League history were performed by Man United (eight) or Arsenal (three). The other clubs with aspirations of being champions haven't got the same catalogue of past comebacks from which to draw belief.

All four of Chelsea's triumphs involved them leading from the front, as did the first of Man City's, while Manuel Pellegrini's men were a mere point off the peak when they prospered again in 2013/14.

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