With Arsenal’s 6-0 loss to Chelsea on Saturday, the Premier League title is largely a three team race between the Blues, Liverpool and Manchester City.
Chelsea tops the table on 69 points while Liverpool is in 2nd place just four points back and with a game in hand. In 3rd place is Manchester City, six points adrift of the leaders with three games in hand. Arsenal, who many consider to have squandered their title hopes this past weekend, is 4th in the table on seven points behind the Blues but with a game in hand.
Schedule, form, other competitions and injuries will all play a role in determining the champion and below we review what each of the title favorites is looking at with just seven match weeks to play.
1. CHELSEA 69 PTS (31 PLD)
Remaining Matches (7): Crystal Palace (A); Stoke City (H); Swansea City (A); Sunderland (H); Liverpool (A); Norwich City (H); Cardiff City (A)
League Form: DWWWLW
Other Competitions: Champions League (v. PSG on April 2nd and 8th)
Injuries (return date): Samuel Eto’o, hamstring (March 20th), Ashley Cole, knee (April 5th), Marco van Ginkle, knee (out for season)
Vegas odds to win: 3/2
Verdict: Huge statement match by Chelsea this past weekend thrashing Arsenal 6-0. The Blues proved they can be more than a defensive, counter-attacking side when they want to and that they can manage just fine without key players Willian and Ramires, who were both out on suspension.
The key for Jose Mourinho’s side is to stay focused, regardless of the competition. Too often they get lazy against lesser opponents (think: recent losses to Stoke City and Aston Villa and draws to West Brom and West Ham), a trait that can’t return in their final seven matches, six of which come against sides outside the Top 10.
2. LIVERPOOL 65 PTS (30 PLD)
Remaining Matches (8): Sunderland (H); Tottenham (H); West Ham United (A); Manchester City (H); Norwich City (A); Chelsea (H); Crystal Palace (A); Newcastle United (H)
League Form: WWWWWW
Other Competitions: None
Injuries (return date): Jose Enrique, knee (out for season)
Vegas odds to win: 11/4
Verdict: Is there a more dangerous team in the Premier League right now?
With a healthy squad, the most dangerous strike-partnership in the league and last weekend’s 6-3 romp over Cardiff City, Liverpool has proven itself the hottest team in the league with a six match win streak.
If the Reds are to have any shot at the title, however, they’ll need Chelsea and Manchester City to drop points. Conveniently for Brendan Rodgers’ men, they have home matches against both Chelsea and City this April. Emerge victorious in those battles – while remaining focused on putting away side’s of lesser quality – and the Reds are a good bet to sneak in as champions.
3. MANCHESTER CITY 63 PTS (28 PLD)
Remaining Matches (10): Manchester United (A); Arsenal (A); Southampton (H); Liverpool (A); Sunderland (H); West Bromwich Albion (H); Crystal Palace (A); Everton (A); Aston Villa (H); West Ham United (H)
League Form: WLDWWW
Other Competitions: None
Vegas odds to win: 3/2
Verdict: Would you rather have points on the board (like Chelsea) or games in hand (like City)?
Despite what Jose Mourinho says, the answer is points on the board. The Special One’s claim does have some merit, however, because if City wins out the season they’re champions by three points. But given how the Premier League season has gone so far, that’s easier said than done.
Potential road-blocks for City begin Tuesday in the Manchester derby. Yes, the Citizens will be favored but United are at home and seem to have turned a corner after the come-from-behind aggregate victory over Olympiacos last week. Other tough matches for City include Arsenal away, Southampton, Liverpool away and Everton away.
If Manuel Pellegrini’s side emerges unscathed through those games to claim the title, the Chilean deserves a standing ovation.
4. ARSENAL 62 PTS (30 PLD)
Remaining Matches (8): Manchester City (H); Everton (A); West Ham United (H); Hull City (A); Newcastle United (H); West Bromwich Albion (H); Norwich City (A)
League Form: LDWLWL
Other Competitions: FA Cup (v. Wigan on April 12th)
Injuries (return date): Laurent Koscielny, calf (no return date); Mesut Ozil, hamstring (April 13th); Jack Wilshere, ankle (no return date); Aaron Ramsey, thigh (no return date); Theo Walcott, knee (out for season); Abou Diaby, knee (out for season)
Vegas odds to win: 40/1
Verdict: Last week Vegas had Arsenal’s title chances at 12/1. Since the loss to Chelsea those odds have tumbled to 40/1.
As stated above, the Gunners aren’t mathematically out of it. But soon they will be. Best for Arsene Wenger’s side to focus on a Top 4 finish and winning the FA Cup.