The festive period produced four of the six biggest Premier League upsets last season and these are the games that could bring about similar this time around.
According to our odds, four of the six biggest Premier League upsets last season happened between December 22-29.
Two of them involved Manchester City – with the champions being beaten by Crystal Palace and Leicester on the 22nd and 26th.
Chelsea had been beaten by Leicester on the 22nd, while Tottenham were overturned by Wolves at Wembley on the 29th.
On that basis, with squads stretched and players tiring, expect a few turn-ups over the next fortnight. Here are five candidates.
Leicester to beat Manchester City (Saturday 21 December)
Manchester City’s squad depth meant that fatigue wasn’t much of an excuse last season. They made five changes for their Boxing Day defeat at Leicester, but a brief dip in form, plus some bad luck, accounted for their back-to-back defeats.
This season, though, tiredness could be an issue.
Injuries to Aymeric Laporte and John Stones leave them exposed in defence, while David Silva and Sergio Aguero are also absent.
As a result, Gabriel Jesus has started six games in 19 days, completing 90 minutes in all of them. Raheem Sterling featured in all of those games, too.
City don’t like this fixture much, either. They have won four of their last eight league meetings with Leicester, requiring a Vincent Kompany wonder strike to beat them at the Etihad last season.
Newcastle to beat Manchester United (Thursday 26 December)
It wasn’t until late January, but Newcastle’s victory over Man City was the second-biggest upset of last season, when the effects of the Christmas period were still being felt.
Steve Bruce’s charges have followed in the footsteps of Rafa Benitez’s side.
They won 1-0 at Tottenham in August, before beating Manchester United in the reverse fixture at St James’ Park in October.
Their attritional, defensive style will be difficult for Manchester United to combat, especially as Marcus Rashford and Dan James have played a lot already this season and will have featured at Watford four days earlier.
Wolves to beat Manchester City (Friday 27 December)
Wolves have made a habit of upsetting the odds.
Nuno Santo’s side took 16 points from 12 games against the top six last season, before producing the upset of this season so far, a 2-0 win in the reverse fixture at the Etihad.
Even more impressively, that victory came just three days after an away win in Besiktas. Their ability to juggle six Europa League group games and still be sixth in the Premier League heading into the final weekend before Christmas suggests that they are immune from fatigue.
City will already have had the Leicester match, so – just like at this time last season – the threat of consecutive defeats is real.
Wolves to beat Liverpool (Sunday 29 December)
Liverpool’s Christmas schedule is hectic, far worse than for any other team, so it would be a surprise if they come through without dropping points.
Jurgen Klopp’s side play twice in Qatar in the week before Christmas, before a trip to second-placed Leicester on Boxing Day precedes this one.
Klopp has shown a willingness to rotate his team recently, but Alisson, Virgil Van Dijk, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah are still likely to feature in every match.
A meeting with giant-killers Wolves looks an obvious candidate for an upset, with with those players sure to be tiring.
Brighton to beat Chelsea (Wednesday 1 January)
This would be the least surprising upset of the five.
Chelsea must go to Tottenham and Arsenal on the 22 and 29 December, with Southampton at home sandwiched in the middle. That is a tiring run for a young squad, particularly considering that they have lost four out of five in the league going into it.
Brighton have already beaten Tottenham and Arsenal this season, and only lost 2-1 at Anfield, so they are certainly capable of getting a result.
This game also kicks off at 12.30 on New Year’s Day, when surely nobody has really woken up.
That was certainly the case at the same time last year, when Leicester won 1-0 at Everton in a dreadful game.
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