For pretty much the whole season, fans and pundits alike have agreed – Chelsea are going to win the League.
Having invested extremely sensibly in the summer, Jose Mourinho’s side were favourites from the word go, and a series of powerful performances in the early part of the season confirmed their status as champions elect.
As the season has worn on, the Blues’ quest for domestic silverware has looked ever more tangible – helped along by the stutters of Man City – and the bookies have been slowly shortening the odds on John Terry holding the Premier League trophy aloft.
But all of a sudden, there are different whispers afoot. All of a sudden, there are people in the world of football who are touting the possibility of two teams genuinely challenging Chelsea for the title.
The resurgent contenders are not the two teams that joined Chelsea in last season’s race. Instead, it is the two teams who underperformed last year – Man Utd and Arsenal – that are being touted as genuine title hopefuls.
Currently, the Gunners and the Red Devils sit seven and eight points shy of the Blues respectively with seven games to go. The question now is, can they genuinely do it?
In order to evaluate the chances of an upset of this magnitude taking place, it is necessary for us to consider the remaining fixtures that each side must fulfil.
First up, Chelsea. The Blues continue their quest for League glory away at a struggling QPR, and between now and the end of the season, Mourinho’s side also face relegation candidates Leicester and Sunderland. Along with the games against the basement teams, Chelsea also take on Man Utd and Arsenal themselves, as well as welcoming Liverpool to Stamford Bridge.
Arsenal’s run in seems rather tame in comparison, with trips to Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford the only two fixtures which look like genuine challenges. But the Gunners will have to be wary of a visit to Burnley and a game at home to Sunderland, as well as their ongoing involvement in the FA Cup.
United appear to have a harder run home than Arsene Wenger’s side, with a visit from their noisy neighbours to look forward to next week before a trip to Stamford Bridge the following week. The rest of their games look relatively straightforward, save what could be a crunch game with Arsenal on May 17.
So, could either United or Arsenal gazump the Blues and lift the Premier League? Yes. Will they? No.
The reality is that Chelsea are far too strong, and their seven-point cushion is likely to be added to when their game in hand has been played. United and Arsenal’s late-season form is very encouraging for fans of both sides but the fact of the matter is that their late surges are too little, too late.
Should Mourinho’s side drop the ball now, it would be one of the biggest boilovers in Premier League history. But as exciting as it would be, I just can’t see it happening.