Manchester City virtually out of the title race as the league is all but Chelsea's to lose
If there were any doubts about who will hold the Premier League trophy, come May 24, it has been (virtually) clarified after Manchester City’s 1-0 defeat to Burnley at Turf Moor. Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea were the favourites to be the champions at the start of the season, and this defeat might have just stamped it.
Chelsea are already six points clear of the defending champions with one game in hand, and it is all but daunting for the Citizens to close the gap with a confident Chelsea side.
The remaining fixtures for the top two clubs are:
Chelsea: Hull (A), Stoke (H), QPR (A), Man United (H), Arsenal (A), Leicester (A), Crystal Palace (H), Liverpool (H), West Brom (A), Sunderland (H)
City: West Brom (H), Palace (A), Man United (A), West Ham (H), Aston Villa (H), Spurs (A), QPR (H), Swansea (A), Southampton (H)
Any football fan can say with conjecture that the fixtures are more or less comparable which is definitely not great news for the Citizens. Even if Chelsea drop points against United, Arsenal or Liverpool; and City go on to win most, if not all of their matches (which is highly optimistic given their dodgy form), even then the Citizens can’t give Chelsea a run for their money.
To throw numbers into the argument, simply put, Chelsea can be vetted to win seven of their remaining ten fixtures (even if it drops points against Liverpool, Arsenal and United for City’s sake), which takes their point tally to a minimum of 85; which may well be atleast 88, given Mourinho’s record against Top 4 clubs (he may not win all of them, but he sure doesn’t lose). While City, even if they win all of their remaining nine, counting three points against United and Spurs away, they can notch up a total of 85. No matter how favourable it is for City, they need nothing less than a miracle to topple Chelsea from pole position. The lead isn’t unassailable, but the victory looks virtually certain.
The Barclays Premier League table (as of now) reads:
It is highly unlikely for a Mourinho side to drop points against sides in the bottom half of the table; in fact, it is City who look vulnerable at this moment and the gap may very well widen further. The blue side of Manchester have even more to fear now as Chelsea are out of the Champions League. One can only expect the Blues to be more intimidating, focused, and clinical – echoed quite clearly by Jose Mourinho’s self-assured statement that Chelsea will “win the league”.
Well, they might already have.
There weren’t many hiccups either. Chelsea have been on top of the table since the first game week, and haven’t been displaced since. The movement has been happening below their position, and the Londoners rivals from (blue) Manchester came at par (literally) to the league leaders on 1st January.
The New Year celebrations haven’t been carried on though. Manchester City have drifted, dropping points against Burnley, Everton, and Hull, besides losing to Arsenal and Liverpool. Result – they are relinquishing six points adrift of league leaders (a lead which may widen to as much as nine if Chelsea win its one left game).
Out of sorts City
It hasn’t gone as planned from the start for City. Despite spending a whooping €96.65 million, City haven’t been able to replicate either their goal scoring form from last season or their defensive grit. Inflexible tactics, fading individual performances and non-firing signings have made the team look out of sorts more often than not this season.
This is déjà vu for Manchester City, who yet again are set to falter in the season when they were defending champions.
Improbable task ahead
As Manuel Pellegrini’s side sorts their multiple woes, Arsenal have closed the gap to City to a single point. If current form is to go by, the title contenders may well end up second runner ups at the end of the season.
As for Chelsea, it is all about being professional and pragmatic now, which, fortunately for them, is a forte of their manager. The cliché may very well go by as, “football is a funny game”, but it isn’t funny enough to see Chelsea drop a comfortable lead at the top with only ten more game weeks left.