There were three rounds of Premier league games congested into seven days around New Year. No wonder Christmas and New Year fixtures have always been notorious for surprise results. Last season, Manchester United had two consecutive defeats at the hands of Blackburn and Newcastle United at New Year, while Manchester City was no better with a draw against West Bromwich on Boxing Day, and a defeat at Sunderland in the first game of 2012. But this year the big clubs were more consistent.
Manchester United have gained momentum with a perfect run in their last three games. The game with Newcastle United on Boxing Day was nothing short of high drama, with the Red Devils fighting from behind three times before grabbing the winning goal. That game was followed by easy wins against West Bromwich and Wigan. Manchester City’s Christmas was less pleasant. They were beaten by Sunderland, then secured a difficult win against Norwich City in which Samir Nasri’s red card almost caused devastating consequences. An easy win against Stoke restored a little confidence to the Blue Moon.
Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea each had three consecutive wins, showing that Champions League qualification teams are also gaining momentum in this crucial phase of the season. Only Arsenal disappointed, as they keep showing inconsistent form this season. A crazy 7-3 slaughter on Newcastle United was followed by a draw at Southampton against a team sitting at the wrong end of the league table.
Old Harry should now realize how tough the task is to keep Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League after this season. After three consecutive defeats, they now have only 10 points from 20 games, and sit at the bottom of the league. It looks like they have to prepare for life in the Championship again. Newcastle United, who more or less punched above their weight last season, have managed only two wins since November. They are now only three points clear of the relegation zone. Apart from the task of keeping the top goal-scorer Demba Ba, manager Alan Pardew has more things to worry about.