Four points separate 1st place Liverpool (74 points) from 3rd place Manchester City (70 points), with Chelsea (72 points) sandwiched in middle, two points adrift.
How it will all turn out by May 11th, is anyone’s guess.
Assuming Liverpool and City win out their remaining matches, it’s City’s title by a two point gap. But in this, the most competitive Premier League season in recent memory, that’s easier said than done.
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 five matchweeks to play.
1. LIVERPOOL 74 PTS (33 PLD)
Remaining Matches (5): Manchester City (H); Norwich City (A); Chelsea (H); Crystal Palace (A); Newcastle United (H)
League Form: WWWWWW
Other Competitions: None
Injuries (return date): Daniel Agger, knee (April 13th); Jose Enrique, knee (out for season)
Vegas odds to win: 13/8
Verdict: To win the title a club needs to weather a variety of storms. On Sunday, Liverpool weathered the Route 1, bus-parking, goalkeeper-crashing storm of West Ham United. Call them what you will but the Hammers know how to put up a fight and, but for a fortuitous penalty call on Jon Flanagan, could’ve seriously hampered the Reds’ title chances. In the end it was tit-for-tat given Andy Carroll’s smack on Simon Mignolet’s head and now Brendan Rodgers side marches on with nine wins on the bounce.
With two games in hand and just four points back, Liverpool’s main competition for the title is Manchester City. So how appropriate it is that those two sides face off next weekend at Anfield? Juicy. It will have the feel of a cup final and if Liverpool gets a result, so too will the Reds’ match against Chelsea two weeks later. Pace yourselves. The permutations are numerous but one thing remains indisputable – on current form, momentum and health, Liverpool is the strongest club in the Premier League.
2. CHELSEA 72 PTS (33 PLD)
Remaining Matches (5): Swansea City (A); Sunderland (H); Liverpool (A); Norwich City (H); Cardiff City (A)
League Form: WWLWLW
Other Competitions: Champions League (v. PSG on April 8th)
Injuries (return date): Andre Schurrle, ankle (no return date); Jon Obi Mike, knock (no return date); Samuel Eto’o, hamstring (April 13th); Marco van Ginkle, knee (out for season)
Vegas odds to win: 13/2
Verdict: The comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Stoke City on Saturday was a nice way to comeback from the prior week’s 0-1 loss to Crystal Palace but ultimately, given the victories of Liverpool and City, the result was just treading water. And that’s all Chelsea can really do over the next five weeks – take full points and hope that City drop points.
3. MANCHESTER CITY 70 PTS (31 PLD)
Remaining Matches (7): Liverpool (A); Sunderland (H); West Bromwich Albion (H); Crystal Palace (A); Everton (A); Aston Villa (H); West Ham United (H)
League Form: WWWWDW
Other Competitions: None
Vegas odds to win: 8/11
Verdict: Pretty convincing stuff from Manchester City last weekend, punishing a quality Southampton side 4-1. It’s form, combined with two key games in hand that has Vegas believing Manuel Pellegrini’s side are title bound. How long the bookies stay on City could change drastically this weekend if Liverpool manage to win.
If City take it, the highest point total Liverpool can finish with will be 86, meaning the Citizens will go on to hoist the title barring an epic collapse where they take 13 or fewer points from their last six matches. And with Sunderland, West Brom, Palace, Everton, Villa and West Ham left on the fixture list, that’s a nearly unthinkable scenario.