Whisper it: the title race is on.
Last week I wrote that although Tottenham had come a long way, Chelsea would still win the Premier League.
Now I’m not so sure.
I’ve just finished watching Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United put in a very Jose Mourinho-style performance, beating Chelsea by two goals to nil.
— SPORF (@Sporf) April 16, 2017
There’s absolutely no doubt that Mourinho will have been extremely satisfied by that result, regardless of what he says – the way he left his former employers will have stung, but that’s not the most powerful thing to have come from the resounding win.
All of a sudden, the title race looks alive again.
With six games to go, Chelsea are now just FOUR points clear of chasers Tottenham, and fresh off a psychologically damaging defeat.
The truth of the matter is that Man United are no great shakes, and Antonio Conte will have been devastated to lose to them; not just because of who their manager is, but because it has made the title race far closer than many thought possible.
Do we have a title race on our hands?
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) April 16, 2017
Under normal circumstances, you’d look at Chelsea’s last six games and back them not to drop four points. But now that a chink in their armour has developed, there is the distinct possibility that mindset may have a negative role in their run-in.
Next week they play Tottenham in the FA Cup, and a loss there could be even more damaging, whilst they must still visit Everton – their bogey team of the last few years.
On paper, the rest of their fixtures look eminently winnable, but when you consider them in context, it’s difficult not to think that Middlesborough, Watford and Sunderland will give them a real game – their survival might depend on it (although Sunderland are likely to have been relegated by the time they visit Stamford Bridge).
Chelsea also host Southampton in their next league fixtures, and stranger things have happened than a Southampton win against Chelsea.
Is it likely that Chelsea will drop enough points for Spurs to swoop in? No.
Is it possible? Absolutely.
The Premier League title race: IT’s starting to get scary for Chelsea pic.twitter.com/zFN2QJros7
— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) April 16, 2017
Spurs have a tougher run in, with the North London derby to contend with as well as a visit from Manchester United. But when you look at the scintillating form that Mauricio Pochettino’s men are in, you’d back them to overcome both of those obstacles.
So, are Tottenham now favourites? No. But they’re a lot closer than they were before this weekend, and hopefully we’ll see a title chase that goes down to the wire.