It’s no secret that December and the holiday season in the Premier League takes a tremendous toll on a club. As other leagues such as La Liga and the Bundesliga take a break right before Christmas, EPL teams push through and brace for at least six fixtures throughout the month. This does not include domestic or continental cup competitions such as the Carabao Cup or the Champions League. If you’re a club like Liverpool, for example, the number jumps to nine matches as Jurgen Klopp’s side is also involved in the Club World Cup – a tournament that kicks off a day after its quarterfinal fixture against Aston Villa in the aforementioned Carabao Cup. The club has already stated it will feature two squads for both tournaments.
From Manchester City’s point of view and its chances of retaining the league title, this is a crucial period as Pep Guardiola needs all the help it can get in order to reduce the 11-point gap between his club and Liverpool. But it won’t be easy as December includes a Manchester derby, a visit to Arsenal and playing host to second-place Leicester City.
This is also a time for experience, something Chelsea’s Frank Lampard doesn’t have so he will need his young side to play with energy and brains in order to stay within sight of a top four spot. Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham has started well but games against Man United, Wolves and Chelsea will expose just how good they can be under the Portuguese head coach.
But it’s not just at the top where this month could determine much of what happens in the new year. Given recent reports that Mauricio Pochettino is interested in Man United, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows that he needs wins in order to calm some nerves at Old Trafford.
This has been the worst start for the Red Devils in the last 31 years and what’s ahead is not exactly a soothing sight. Solskjaer needs results fast.
In the last two weeks, three EPL managers have been fired and the number could climb. Everton’s Marco Silva is on the brink as the club sits only two points above the relegation zone, while Southampton’s Ralph Hasenhuttl – whose next four matches are against teams in the bottom half – hopes for more points and finally escape the bottom three.
But the truth is that this Premier League table, especially the bottom half, is up for grabs and things could look very different when January comes around. Only 10 points separate last-place Watford and 9th place Man United and in a month where there are at least 18 points available, the standings could look very differently. Time, as they say, will tell.