The Premier League title race has been pretty straightforward so far, with Chelsea leading the way comfortably for a few months. The Blues have looked as steady as can be, with 13 straight wins on the bounce between October and December. Antonio Conte’s side are currently 8 points clear at the top with 16 games left to play. The rest of the chasing pack will have to make the most of every opportunity they get to close the gap, or else we could be looking at a foregone conclusion.
The upcoming week could be a very significant one, in the larger scheme of things.
A massive week – can Liverpool and Arsenal stop Chelsea?
Chelsea travel to Anfield on Tuesday night, looking to subject Liverpool to their fourth straight home defeat in all competitions. The Reds are hurting badly at the moment, but will have to keep their calm. Jurgen Klopp’s men are currently 10 points behind the table-toppers. They have seen their title hopes slip away in the New Year, and need to make amends quickly to stand a chance.
This assignment for Chelsea is followed by a home clash against Arsenal. It was the reverse fixture against the Gunners that really turned the Blues’ season around. They were beaten 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium at the end of September, a result that prompted Conte to wring the changes to his formation. The tactical switch to 3-4-3 has worked wonders.
Arsenal are currently in second, 8 points behind their opponents on Saturday. It is an absolute must-win for Arsene Wenger’s men if they are to have any chance of winning their first Premier League title since 2004.
A huge opportunity for Spurs to cash in
Spurs are the dark horses in this season’s title race. They are in third place, 9 points behind Chelsea. Their two games in the week are against relegation strugglers Sunderland and Middlesbrough. There is little doubt that if the teams above them slip up, they will be there to take advantage.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men will feel this is a very important week for them. While they are dependent on Liverpool and Arsenal doing them a favour, it will be a big signal of intent if they are able to pick up convincing wins themselves. Spurs are in scintillating form at the moment, but will have to be careful that they don’t fall away in the business end of the campaign.
Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs and the two Manchester clubs are also engaged in a dogfight for Champions League places. Chelsea look to be a cert to finish in the top 4, but the remaining three places are well and truly up for grabs. A dip in Liverpool’s form, along with a Manchester United resurgence recently, has made things really interesting.
So, while looking up and trying to catch Chelsea, these teams also have to be wary of those in and around them.
Conte and Co. are sitting pretty at the moment. It will remains to be seen though, where they are at the end of this week. If they are able to come out of the games against Liverpool and Arsenal with their sizeable lead intact, it is difficult to see anyone stopping them from winning a 5th Premier League title.