A brief history of Christmas miracles
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What are some of the biggest shock results during the Christmas period in the Premier League since the year 2000? Today on the blog Andrew looks at some of the Christmas miracles of recent seasons.
As we approach the Christmas period, in which we will see 40 matches in the Premier League played between December 21st and the 5th of January, I thought I would take a look back at ghosts of Christmas past. Full of festive spirit, it's a great opportunity to take a look back at the biggest upsets for the Christmas Day to New Years Day period since the year 2000.
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Chelsea 2 v Southampton 4 - January 1st 2002
Southampton entered this match on New Years Day 2002 in 17th position on the table with just 19pts from 19 games played and goal difference seperating them from the drop zone. As underdogs paying just over odds of 10.00 they squared off against a Chelsea club in 6th position, 6pts off the pace of 1st placed Arsenal. With just 3 losses for the season, having won 3 of their previous 4 matches, they were paying a slim 1.38 for the win.
Down 2-1 at the half, Southampton put 3 second half goals on a Chelsea defense that had allowed just 7 goals at Stamford Bridge previous to the match. In the 73rd minute, James Beattie posted his second goal for the match, bookending his opening goal from the 7th minute, to give Southampton a 4-2 upset win. A great way to start the new year, a year that would see Southampton recover to finish in 11th place while Chelsea finished in 6th.
Liverpool 0 v Wolverhampton 1 - December 29th 2010
Wolves entered this difficult task at Anfield in 20th position, 4pts and 9 goals off safety. Heading into the match as underdogs of a little over 10.00, they took on a Liverpool club with problems of their own. In 11th place and a long way from contention for Champions League qualification, Liverpool had collected just 22pts from their first 17 games of the season. But still they came into the match as 1.33 favourites.
Having won at Anfield just once in the previous 60 seasons, Wolves took the lead in the 56th minute when Stephen Ward made a shakey Liverpool defense appear less than professional, unable to clear a bouncing ball twice before allowing Ward to take an easy pass through to put Wolves up 1-0. 30 minutes later, Anfield would descend into a sea of boos as Liverpool found themselves just 5pts clear of last place suffering yet another loss. Meanwhile for Wolves, the win would ultimately mean the difference between another season in the Premiership and relegation, as they avoid the drop by just 1pt to Birmingham.
Leicester City 1 v Bradford City 2 - January 1st 2001
While Manchester United had a commanding 8pt lead over Arsenal, Leicester found themselves just 4pts behind the 2nd placed Gunners as they hosted what seemed to be an easy 3pts on New Years Day 2001 against last placed Bradford City, themselves 8pts below safety with much work to do in the second half of the season. As 1.45 favourites, Leicester fans would have been expecting to consolodate a place at the top end of the table.
But the underdogs of over 9.00 from Braford got off to a fast start, scoring twice within 5 minutes as Aberdeen loan Eoin Jess scored in the 25th minute before Wayne Jacons followed in the 30th. But Muzzy Izzet would take full advantage of a penalty opportunity in the 38th minute, bringing Leicester a goal back. But that's where it would stay as Bradford went on to record what was at the time, a shock result. Both clubs would struggled through the second half of the season, as Leicester fell to finish in 13th place while Bradford was eventually relegated a full 16pts below safety.
West Ham 2 v Manchester United 1 - December 29th 2007
Man United entered this match top of the table as away favourites of 1.50, a point clear of second placed Arsenal while West Ham were middle of the table in 10th position, 10 pts off a top 4 spot and 12pts from the drop zone. As home underdogs of 7.00, few would have thought the Hammers could cause a post-Christmas upset.
But what followed had to be seen to be believed. Man United took the lead early with a Christiano Rinaldo goal in the 14th minute. And Rinaldo looked set to put the match beyond much doubt with a 68th minute penalty shot. But he would miss and the home club would take full advantage. Anton Ferdinand would score for West Ham in the 77th minute. Not satisfied with a draw, the home club would maintain their attack. In the 82nd minute it paid dividends as a Matthew Upson header gave West Ham a lead they would not surrender.
Man United would go on to claim yet another Premier League crown, taking 1st place by 2pts from Chelsea while West Ham would remain in 10th place, with 49pts for the season.
Sheffield United 1 v Arsenal 0 - December 30th 2006
Sheffield United entered their late December home fixture with Arsenal in 17th place as 6.60 underdogs, 2pts clear of the drop zone while the Gunners came in as 1.50 favourites in 3rd place, but a full 10pts behind 2nd placed Chelsea and 14pts behind 1st placed Manchester United.
As halftime approached, the Blades took the lead thanks to a Christian Nade goal in the 41st minute, his first for Sheffield United. It was a lead Sheffield United would not concede despite suffering a run of injuries that would leave Phil Jagielka the Blade's only goalkeeping option for the final 30 minutes of the match. It was Sheffield United's first league win over Arsenal in 14 attempts, a run that extended for 33 seasons. The Gunners would go on to finish in 4th place behind Liverpool on goal difference. However, the upset win would not be enough to save Sheffield United as they would ultimately end the 2006-2007 season relegated by the margin of just 1 goal to 17th placed Wigan.
Other notable Christmas upsets
Chelsea 2 v Fulham 2 - December 30th 2006, odds of draw 6.70.
Chelsea 2 v Reading 2 - December 26th 2006, odds of draw 6.60.
Sunderland 0 v Blackpool 2 - December 28th 2010, odds of win 6.00.
Newcastle 0 v Blackburn 1 - December 28th 2003, odds of win 5.80.
Charlton 4 v Chelsea 2 - December 26th 2003, odds of win 5.80.
Portsmouth 0 v Middlesbrough 1 - December 29th 2007, odds of win 5.70.
You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewBexpert
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The game that stands out in my memory is the West Ham - Man United game. The last 30 minutes of that match were fantastic viewing.
At the moment I'm thinking Chelsea. That Liverpool vs Wolves brings back bad memories.
It's going to be a great festive season of football. Very much looking forward to it. Surely there will bea a couple of upsets. Hopefully our tipsters can find them.
Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester U and Liverpool are all hosts on December 26th 2011. Don't believe all will win their matches. Who will be added on this list in couple of days? In my opinion Chelsea and Liverpool have bigger chances.