Manchester City could be on course to hold the biggest mid-season lead in Premier League history.
Pep Guardiola’s men beat Manchester United 2-1 on Sunday to move 11 points clear at the summit with three games to go until the season’s half-way point.
If they preserve that advantage until Christmas, they will equal the record midway margin for a 20-team Premier League – and they could easily beat the record of 12 set in a 22-team season.
Let’s look at the three previous teams who held double-figure leads at halfway and how they fared…
Leaders: Chelsea, 52pts
Nearest challengers: Manchester United, 41
Seventeen wins from their first 19 games had Chelsea (managed of course by Jose Mourinho) 11 points clear and they could afford to ease off in the second half, eventually winning the league by eight points. Liverpool, who had been four points further back with two games in hand at halfway and would go on to match United’s 41 points from 19 games, finished a point behind the Red Devils in third. Frank Lampard led Chelsea’s march with 16 league goals from midfield and 20 in all competitions.
Leaders: Newcastle, 45 pts
Nearest challengers: Manchester United, 35
Kevin Keegan’s Magpies were playing with style as they stormed ten points clear at Christmas, but they became the only team on this list not to win the title. The pressure told on Keegan, who memorably bellowed “I will love it if we beat them” in response to Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson’s mind games. Ferguson’s side not only made up the deficit but finished four points clear as Newcastle won just five of their last 13 games.
Leaders: Manchester United, 52 pts
Nearest challengers: Leeds, 40
After their 21st fixture of 42 in a larger top flight brought United’s 16th win, they were a dozen points clear with a game in hand on second-placed Leeds. Eventual runners-up Blackburn were 14 behind with a game in hand on Ferguson’s men but could only close to within eight by the season’s end, with United adding the FA Cup after thumping Chelsea 4-0 in the final.