Chelsea’s 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace still keeps them seven points above Tottenham, who sit in the second place, but considering they play Manchester City in less than four days, the end of the season may have some surprises for us in store.
This week will be massive for Chelsea as well as Tottenham, who sit in the second place. If Mauricio Pochettino’s men win against Swansea (Wednesday) and Watford (Saturday) and Chelsea lose against Manchester City on Wednesday, there would be only one point between the two teams when the Blues take on Bournemouth on Saturday. It doesn’t mean much considering Chelsea can restore the four-point lead with a win over the Cherries, but for those few hours, Spurs will have an incredible psychological advantage, and Antonio Conte and his team would be under sizeable pressure.
Teams have crumbled under pressure, and we don’t have to look too far back to give an example. Liverpool ensured their title run in 2013/14 became a massive joke as they capitulated right at the end.
Manchester United were also eight points clear with six games to play in 2011-12. They ended up losing the title on goal difference to Manchester City on the final day when Sergio Aguero forever etched his dramatic injury-time winner against QPR in our minds.
It’s not as though teams haven’t stumbled in the business end of the season. Chelsea so far have shown no signs of doing the same, but anything can happen and Crystal Palace’s resolved 2-1 victory last Saturday could prove to be detrimental when we look back at this season.
Their closest competitors currently are Tottenham, who are unbeaten in the league since Feb. 11. Their performance against Burnley on Saturday exuded class and efficiency. Last season, Tottenham were the closest competition for Leicester City but stumbled right at the end. They finished third, behind Arsenal in the second place. That has certainly taught them a lesson, and Mauricio Pochettino remains cautious but hopeful this time.
The Spurs’ manager recently said about his team and title chances, “We need to learn: never give up, always fight, always concentrate, fight to the end, and what happens happens. Football is about mentality”.
26 – Tottenham (26) have won more points in 2017 than any other Premier League team (W8 D2 L1). Challengers.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 3, 2017
After facing Manchester City this Wednesday, Chelsea will still have matches against Manchester United and Everton in the league. Spurs, on the other hand, have games against Arsenal and Manchester United remaining, with the latter coming in the second last week of the season.
On paper, Liverpool have the easiest run-in in the Premier League. The Reds face opponents currently outside the top 8 till the end of the season. Liverpool are undefeated against the top 6, and anyone who has followed them this season knows these “lesser” matches are the ones they usually lose points in. In 1997, Arsenal won the title under Arsene Wenger after a 14-game run of 13 wins and a draw. A similar winning run right till the end could potentially ensure a first domestic title since 1990 for Liverpool.
This entire proposition works based on many conditions, and all may not be fulfilled. Chelsea may win against Manchester City and further ascertain their dominance. However, we cannot ignore the fact that after almost walking the league, a time has finally come when things have become slightly tricky.