The last few weeks of the Premier League season look set for a thrilling battle, with just eleven points separating the top four teams with nine games remaining.
Chelsea may still be the bookies’ favourites to win title, but their odds lengthened over the weekend as a wobble at home against Crystal Palace allowed Tottenham to close the gap to just to seven points.
Liverpool also moved three points closer to the long-time leaders, while Manchester City’s draw at Arsenal improved their balance by a point. One thing is for sure: if Chelsea were sitting comfortably on their ten point lead, they will be finding seven points decidedly less relaxing.
This Wednesday will see Manchester City visit Stamford Bridge for a game that will provide Antonio Conte’s side with an almost immediate opportunity to show their fans that Saturday’s loss was no more than a blip. As well as giving Chelsea a huge fillip, a home win would seriously dent Manchester City’s hopes, but another Chelsea loss would blow the title race wide open.
With so many ‘must win’ games remaining for the top teams, it’s impossible to see how the final weeks might play out. A Chelsea procession, however, is looking less and less likely.
Liverpool could prove to be the dark horses, as they will avoid all the top teams in the remaining weeks, while, aside from Wednesday’s match, Manchester City’s only top-of-the-table clash will be their home derby against Manchester United. Tottenham, currently best placed amongst Chelsea’s rivals, have Arsenal and Manchester United yet to deal with.
Should Chelsea manage to maintain their current gap, then a home win against Middlesbrough on Monday 8th May will see them home. However, with a tough away game at Everton and both Manchester City and Manchester United due to visit Stamford Bridge before that fixture, it’s anyone’s guess as to what the league will look like at that point.
Chelsea may take some solace in the fact they are due to play at home against bottom-ranked Sunderland in the season finale, but they will be desperate to ensure they don’t leave it that late.
Having to win on the final day would come about only as a result of some very patchy late-season form, meaning their confidence would be low and their nerves frayed. With momentum firmly behind their rivals, a final-day shoot-out is not a lottery for which Chelsea want to buy a ticket.
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