The most wonderful time of the year may not be quite as magical as years gone by due to restrictions on all of our lives caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Christmas is still a special period, though, and the familiarity of a hectic Premier League schedule is sure to be a comfort to fans across the globe.
We appreciate you may be about to tuck into your dinner or snoozing after over-indulging already, but why not digest some tasty Christmas Premier League facts before cracking on with the next beer?
Wondering where you enjoy such a gem? Well we have you covered below, with the help of the happy little elves at Opta.
SANTA SLEIGHED BY SALAH
We ho ho hope you don’t mind a little Christmas gag to headline this section to get us cracking…
It seemed only fitting to start with a bit of a coincidence that once upon a time a man with a festive theme in his name was responsible for the best minutes-per-goal ratio during the month of December.
That man was ex-Blackburn Rovers striker Roque Santa Cruz, who netted nine times in 846 minutes for a ratio of 94 minutes per goal.
Alas, just like Rudolph and the rest of the gang at the end of a busy Christmas Eve shift, Santa Cruz has been reined in. The honour now goes to Liverpool star Mohamed Salah, who has a goal every 91 minutes in matches played in December (19 goals in 1737 minutes).
Mick Quinn (97 mins per goal), Divock Origi (105 mins per goal) and Demba Ba (106 mins per goal) complete the top five for December.
MAYNOR THE KING OF THE CHRISTMAS CRACKERS?
Paper hats, Christmas jokes and cheaply assembled plastic toys…you all love pulling a cracker at Christmas!
And there have been many crackers scored in the month of December in the Premier League – not least Maynor Figueroa’s 60.5-yard effort for Wigan Athletic against Stoke City back in 2009, which remains the longest of long-range goals in the competition during the final month of the calendar year.
The full-back’s quick thinking with a free-kick from his own half caught Thomas Sorensen off guard and nestled in the back of the goal.
Former Portsmouth man Matt Taylor had a penchant for a long-range goal and his famous audacious volley against Everton in 2006 measured in at 40.6 yards.
Juan Mata (39.9 yards for Man Utd v Stoke), Sebastian Larsson (39.4 yards for Birmingham City versus Wigan) and Kevin De Bruyne (38.3 yards for Manchester City v Crystal Palace) all rank in the top five.
Better than Beckham?
Figueroa’s wonder goal lit up the 2009/10 season
— Premier League (@premierleague) August 3, 2017
LLORIS AND THE KEEPERS GIFTING OUT THE GOODS
Christmas, at least under normal circumstances, is a time for spending time with loved ones and eating copious amounts of foods that aren’t particularly good for us.
It is also, of course, if we’re being honest, a time to exchange tat by the Christmas tree and say a silent prayer the generous buyer has kept the receipts.
Obviously, in football you’re not supposed to be generous with your gifts – but Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has been particularly forthcoming with presents for opposition teams at this time of year.
The France World Cup winner has committed seven errors in the month of December, a Premier League high and one more than Red Devils number one David De Gea.
Unsurprisingly, goalkeepers make up the top five with Petr Cech (6), Robert Green (5) and Simon Mignolet (4) all featuring. Indeed of those to have committed three or more errors leading to goals in December, ex-Newcastle United defender Aaron Hughes is the only outfield player on our list.
SANTA’S NOT THE ONLY LAPLAND VISITOR
Santa makes his annual jolly around the globe to deliver presents to all the good boys and girls but back in 2001 there was another who heralded from Lapland to visit England.
Finland international Hannu Tihinen arrived on loan at West Ham from Norwegian side Viking and fittingly made his Premier League debut on Boxing Day!
In total he made just eight Premier League appearances, winning just once in England’s top flight.
Perhaps the difference in quality was just – ahem – poles apart for Tihinen, who was nonetheless part of the side that memorably defeated Manchester United 1-0 in the FA Cup early in 2002.
RED DEVILS TOP OF THE TREE
The old cliche is that it means nothing to be top at Christmas…but for the sake of the jokes in this piece it’s very important to be top of the tree come December 25!
Manchester United have sat in such a position on seven occasions, more than any other team, but Liverpool – six times – are the only side to hold top spot three seasons running having done so in 2018, 2019 and now 2020.
In total, 11 sides have managed to be top at Christmas – Chelsea (5), Arsenal (2) and Manchester City (2) unsurprisingly doing so. Norwich City, Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United (2), Aston Villa, Leeds United and Leicester City have also achieved the honour.
There have been 15 instances of a team being in first place on December 25 and jingling all the way to the Premier League title, but nothing can be wrapped up this early in the season.
— Premier League (@premierleague) December 25, 2016
SNOW-BODY DOES IT BETTER THAN SHEARER OVER CHRISTMAS
For a man with 260 Premier League goals to his name, it should come as no surprise to hear that the player with the most goals scored in the period from December 26 to January 5 is Alan Shearer.
The Newcastle United great netted 23 times between those dates, five more than the 18 celebrated by former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler.
Dimitar Berbatov and Jermain Defoe each have 17, while Steven Gerrard has 16 – the same amount as Tottenham star Harry Kane, who has Shearer’s record in his sights.
In a league table of win percentages during this period, Manchester United lead the way with 64.6 per cent, while Liverpool (59.5 per cent) have brought plenty of festive cheer too.
At the opposite end, Sheffield United have won just 18.2 per cent of Premier League games for those dates over Christmas, while Crystal Palace 21.2 per cent fare little better.
JESUS RISES TO THE OCCASION
Christmas for many is mainly a secular celebration nowadays but the traditional meaning of the holiday season is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
In the Premier League, there have been six occasions of a player with Jesus in their name scoring a December goal – five of which were from Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus.
The other was netted by former City winger Jesus Navas, who fittingly at this time of year often delivered for others – producing six December assists and amassing 74 crosses from open play.
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