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Manchester City leading the way in Match of the Day stakes

Manchester City leading the way in Match of the Day stakes
© Reuters
The defending Premier League champions have been first on the highlights show eight times.

Match of the Day's enforced shift from weekly highlights leaves Manchester City with top billing for the season so far.

After Mrs Brown's Boys filled the void last week, the flagship show returns to the BBC One schedule this Saturday evening – but in the form of a "Top 10 Premier League captains" podcast.

An inspection of this season's running orders suggests football fans could instead have expected to be watching highlights of City's clash with Chelsea at 10.20pm, as Pep Guardiola's men edge out Liverpool for the most headline appearances.

City still the main draw

Match of the Day running order 2019-20
Manchester City edge Liverpool into second in terms of the Match of the Day running order (PA graphic)

Despite Liverpool's 25-point lead in the table, City have opened the show on eight occasions to their rivals' seven.

Their first six Saturday fixtures all led the show, though Liverpool have assumed top billing more recently as their seven lead games include the two most recent shows on February 29 and March 7.

City also have more appearances in the second game, five to Liverpool's three, with the Reds relegated to the third slot on four occasions with two appearances later in the show. City have appeared outside the top two only three times, and never later than fifth.

As in the Premier League table, Leicester are third in the MOTD standings with six lead appearances – though there is a surprise "Champions League place" for Brighton, who rank fourth.

The Seagulls have faced both City and Liverpool in lead games, with their games against Aston Villa and Everton also topping the bill in back-to-back weeks in October.

Big names drop down the order

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, left, and Pep Guardiola
December's Manchester derby was United's only lead game this season (Nick Potts/PA)

Tottenham are one of three teams with three lead appearances but Brighton's four remarkably matches Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal combined.

United and Arsenal's Europa League commitments play a part in that – at one stage this season, City had featured in the lead game more often than United had appeared in total due to the latter's Sunday fixtures. December's derby win remains the only time United have enjoyed top billing.

West Ham and Southampton, with three lead games each, rank ahead of any of the trio with the likes of Norwich, Villa and Watford alongside Chelsea on two.

Only four teams have yet to lead the show. They are Newcastle, Burnley, Crystal Palace and Sheffield United – with Blades fans having the right to feel especially aggrieved.

The surprise European challengers have not even appeared second in the running order, with four third places but their other 13 games appearing fifth or later. Palace have just one appearance in the second game, with three apiece for Newcastle and Burnley.

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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool29271166214582
2Manchester CityMan City28183768313757
3Leicester CityLeicester29165858283053
4Chelsea29146951391248
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd29129844301445
6Wolverhampton WanderersWolves29101364134743
7Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd28111073025543
8Tottenham HotspurSpurs29118104740741
9Arsenal2891364036440
10Burnley29116123440-639
11Crystal Palace29109102632-639
12Everton29107123746-937
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2998122541-1635
14Southampton29104153552-1734
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton29611123240-829
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham2976163550-1527
17Watford2969142744-1727
18Bournemouth2976162947-1827
19Aston Villa2874173456-2225
20Norwich CityNorwich2956182552-2721

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