West Ham should be able to make some progress on their shaky rehabilitation over the 12 days of Christmas.
They have one of the easier schedules – although the fixtures are plainly in two halves.
On Boxing Day they play at the Liberty Stadium against struggling Swansea City and then on the last day of the year they clash with Leicester, who, like West Ham , are showing signs of a stuttering return to form.
Then in the new year, West Ham are at home for two consecutive Manchester matches – Manchester Utd on January 2 and Manchester City on January 6 (albeit in the FA Cup).
Although it appears a formidable Christmas feast, it is one of the softer schedules among their Premier League rivals, with the average position of their opposition roughly 13th – the third easiest festive fixture list.
Naughty or nice
Stoke City have a tougher set of festive fixtures than any other Premier League side.
The Potters have tricky away trips to top of the table Chelsea and third placed Liverpool, not to mention a potentially tricky home tie against 12th place Watford in the new year.
Stoke’s opponents over the 12 days of Christmas therefore have an average current league position of 5.3. That’s a higher average than the opponents any other Premier League side will be facing over the festive period. Factor in that the toughest of Stoke’s games will be away and you really have to feel that Mark Hughes really has been given a lump of coal this year.
Hull have the next toughest Christmas. The Tigers’ opponents are sat in an average league position of 6.3. Hull are followed by Tottenham with 6.7 and then Southampton with 7.3.
It’s Manchester United who have been handed the best Christmas presents this year.
Not only do Jose Mourinho’s team only have one away game – against13th placed West Ham – but their two home games both look winnable – against 18th placed Sunderland and 14th placed Middlesbrough.
That means Manchester United’s opponents have an average league position of just 15.0, lower than the opponents of any other club over Christmas.
Team: Average position of Christmas opponents
- Stoke: 5.3
- Hull: 6.3
- Tottenham: 6.7
- Southampton: 7.3
- Bournemouth: 8
- Sunderland: 8.3
- Chelsea: 8.7
- Liverpool: 10.3
- West Brom: 10.3
- Watford: 11
- Burnley: 11.3
- Arsenal: 11.7
- Crystal Palace: 11.7
- Leicester: 12
- Middlesbrough: 12.3
- Manchester City: 13
- Swansea: 13.3
- West Ham: 13.3
- Everton: 14
- Manchester United: 15