Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal heading into pivotal stretch, let’s look at the fixtures

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Following Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Monday, the Premier League title race has once again been blown wide open.

Copy and paste that last part, I have a feeling we will be using that term ‘wide open’ for the rest of the season, just like we’ve used it for the opening 24 rounds of the 2013-14 PL campaign.

That’s why this season is so awesome.

With Arsenal top of the tree on 55 points, then Manchester City and Chelsea locked on 53 points in second and third respectively, it really is anyone’s league this year. Even Liverpool in fourth spot are only six points behind Chelsea and City, while Everton are eight points back. For argument’s sake, let’s focus on the top three.

(MORE: Premier League Playback – Chelsea no ‘little horse’ in title race)

In the next six games Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea all have very different schedules and you have to say that the Gunners could soon be slipping off of top spot with a tough set of fixtures heading their way. And don’t forget, all three of these squads will be pushed to their limit with the FA Cup fifth round ties (where Chelsea head to City and Arsenal host Liverpool) and the UEFA Champions League knockout stages starting back up in two weeks time sees Arsenal face Bayern Munich, City take on Barcelona and Chelsea against Galatasaray.

(MORE: Latest Premier League Standings)

Here’s a look at the next six league games for each team, and by the look of things I think Chelsea will be top of the tree when their March 22 showdown with Arsenal rolls around at Stamford Bridge. The Blues from West London have the easiest schedule, with Arsenal up against it in the next few months. Especially with their smaller squad battling in the FA Cup and Europe.

Who do you think has an easier time of it? And who will be top after this pivotal stretch?

ARSENAL

February 8 – Liverpool (Away)
February 12 – Manchester United (Home)
February 22 – Sunderland (Home)
March 1 – Stoke City (Away)
March 8 – Swansea (Home)
March 16 – Tottenham (Away)

MANCHESTER CITY

February 8 – Norwich (Away)
February 12 – Sunderland (Home)
February 22 – Stoke (Home)
March 2 – NO PL GAME (League Cup final)
March 8 – Aston Villa (Home)
March 15 – Hull (Away)

CHELSEA

February 8 – Newcastle (Home)
February 11 – West Brom (Away)
February 22 – Everton (Home)
March 1 – Fulham (Away)
March 8 – Tottenham (Home)
March 15 – Aston Villa (Away)

Soccer world reacts to the Manchester attacks

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NBC News is reporting that at least 19 people have been killed and another 50 are injured following a possible suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

Multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials who are monitoring British authorities told NBC News that preliminary reports indicate that a single explosion took place outside the arena on the southwest side opposite the train station. The explosion occurred as the concert ended, catching people as they exited.

Soccer clubs, players and personalities around the world are reacting to the horrible event.

Juventus purchases Cuadrado from Chelsea

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If you didn’t realize Juan Cuadrado still belonged to Chelsea, you’re forgiven.

The Colombian attacker will complete his second season at Juventus after the UEFA Champions League Final against Real Madrid, and won’t be headed back to Chelsea afterwards.

Juve has purchased Cuadrado, and the fee is $22 million, and Juve will pay it over three seasons. Cuadrado, 28, is now signed through 2020 with The Old Lady.

Cuadrado first went on loan to Juve in Aug. 2015, and has eight goals and 18 assists in 83 career appearances with the club.

Chelsea bought Cuadrado from Fiorentina for around $32 million in the January 2015 transfer window, but made just 14 appearances with the club.

Report: Jermain Defoe meeting with Bournemouth

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Sky Sports is reporting that Jermain Defoe may head back to the south of England following Sunderland’s relegation.

Defoe, 34, spent two seasons with Portsmouth between 2008-09, scoring 15 goals in 31 appearances.

[ MORE: ‘The Moment’ of each PL club’s season ]

The 56-times capped England striker had a clause in his Sunderland contract allowing him to leave the Stadium of Light were the Black Cats to be relegated, as they were this season. He’d have little interest in dropping into the Championship given his desire to stay a part of the England squad ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

Bournemouth’s strike corps includes Joshua King, who scored the most goals of any player not on a Top Seven side this season. King’s 16 goals were one more than Defoe’s 15, though the latter scored just one goal following a brace against Crystal Palace on Feb. 4.

Chelsea’s Conte wins pair of top managerial honors

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Antonio Conte took league and national honors from the League Managers Association on Monday night.

The Chelsea boss was named Premier League Manager of the Year and Manager of the Year after leading the Blues to the PL title and an FA Cup Final in his first year on the job.

Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton nabbed another Championship boss of the year award after leading the Gulls to the Premier League. He also won the honor with Newcastle United in 2010.

The League One winner is Chris Wilder of Sheffield United. Wilder won the honor with Northampton Town last season.

In League Two, Paul Cook of Portsmouth was named the winner.