With the bulk of the hectic Christmas schedule of the Premier League now full, the rivalry will take a back seat next week as the FA Cup’s third round takes place. Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the winners and losers of the holiday.
Winners: Manchester United Manchester United had a fantastic string of results (Martin Rickett/PA) There is no denying that Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, their coach, had a good Christmas. When United were knocked out of the Champions League in early December, Solskjaer was on the edge of being sacked, but the Norwegian reversed the tables with some positive results at home. United climbed level on points with Liverpool at the top of the table after reaching the semifinals of the Carabao Cup and beating old rivals Leeds, extending their unbeaten streak in the Premier League to 10 games. They are on track for 2021 with a victory against Aston Villa on New Year’s Day, following a draw against Leicester and a deflected winner in injury time against Wolves. The pressure on Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was much greater than that on Solskjaer as the Gunners went into the Christmas program on the back of a loss to Everton and a strong defeat to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup quarterfinals. ArsenalArsenal eased the pressure on Mikel Arteta (center) with three straight wins (Julian Finney/PA) After slipping to 15th position, some also feared that the Londoners would be involved in the relegation fight. But with three straight victories, led by a brilliant – and surprising – 3-1 victory over Chelsea, they turned things around. They then won at Brighton and beat West Brom 4-0. If he gets the investment in his Burnley side he has long wished for, BurnleySean Dyche will see an upturn in fortunes (Dave Thompson/PA) The Clarets had a very poor Christmas, losing 1-0 at Leeds before beating Sheffield United at the bottom of the table narrowly. The game against Fulham on Sunday was then postponed due to an outbreak of Covid 19 at the West London club. But the Lancashire club, off the pitch, benefited from a takeover by the American company ALK Money. The near future may be more optimistic after a tough start to the season, with manager Sean Dyche making no secret of his anger at a lack of investment last summer. Losers: Chelsea The pressure on Chelsea boss Frank Lampard (Andy Rain/PA) At the beginning of the season, Chelsea could not have been considered title challengers, but after some heavy spending and with Liverpool and Manchester Cii The Blues did not take the opportunity, however. Frank Lampard’s team have lost ground with defeats to Arsenal and Manchester City and a draw against Aston Villa. After losses to Everton and Wolves in early December, Lampard is now under investigation. The results of Sheffield UnitedSheffield United were abysmal (Alex Livesey/PA)Christmas did not bring a turnaround for the struggling Blades, who are at the bottom of the table with only two points from 17 games. In a variety of games, they have displayed fighting spirit, but losses to Everton, Burnley, and Crystal Palace mean they are now 12 safety points away. The future looks grim for Chris Wilder’s side with matches against Tottenham and both Manchester clubs in January, who impressed in their return to last season’s League One. West BromSam Allardyce has a huge job on his hands at The Hawthorns (Michael Regan/PA) The Baggies may have felt things were looking up after getting Sam Allardyce in and securing an encouraging draw against champions Liverpool But the gloom was soon shattered. They are now struggling for survival in the Premier League following two home losses to Leeds (0-5) and Arsenal (0-4). With just over half of the season left, the difference is six points to 17th position and there is still a lot to do.