The crucial remaining fixtures for Premier League leaders Chelsea
There are some that believe that everyone might as well give up and hand Chelsea the league now. The Blues have looked in commanding form all season (bar a slip in the cup against Bradford) and have seemingly had their name on the trophy from way before Christmas. There were early challenges from unfamiliar adversaries, such as Southampton, but now it seems as if the only real fight will be with Manchester City. And even that looks like a walkover at this stage with the Blues red hot favourites for another title.
The possible distraction of a Champions League run may get in the way of a stroll to the championship, but Chelsea look as if they will be celebrating their fourth title in eleven years come May. So where will the title be won? And is there any way that Chelsea won’t be victorious?
Easy spring ride.
Looking at the fixture list it is not until the end of April that Chelsea play anyone that should trouble them. March sees them host Southampton and travel to West Ham and Hull. Even with Southampton and the Hammers having their best seasons for years it would be surprising if Chelsea slipped up here. There’s still a trip to Leicester to be rearranged due to the League Cup final, but that should pose no problem either.
April starts with hosting Stoke and a short trip to QPR before two big games at the end of the month – Manchester United at home and Arsenal away. QPR actually don’t have that bad a record against Chelsea recently – especially at home – but even with a new arrival in the Loftus Road hot seat it would take a brave man (or a Rangers fan) to suggest that Chelsea will come away with anything apart from three points.
So it will be the third week of April before Chelsea face one of their fellow big boys. And it is arguable that if they have not already sewn up the title race by then, that it will be all but over. Manchester City can’t afford to slip up at all and Chelsea know, even if the gap remains the same as it is now, that they can afford to take a hit against United or Arsenal and still be successful. Even a defeat at the Emirates at the end of April against an Arsenal side who would be wanting to consolidate a Champions League place, would be tempered by a home fixture against Crystal Palace the week after. Liverpool at home is next, followed by likely wins against West Brom and Sunderland to close out the season.
Apart from Arsenal and possibly West Ham, Chelsea’s bigger games are all at home from now on and history tells us that Jose Mourinho doesn’t lose at Stamford Bridge. They have dominated all season and have brought in players that have excelled - including Diego Costa who has taken to the Premier league amazingly well and made a mockery of suggestions that he would find the move tough after a very average performance in last summer’s World Cup.
With the hard work already done it is hard to see anything other than a Chelsea open bus parade come the end of May.