Analysis of the Title Hopefuls and Relegation Threatened.
Recent results seem to be firming Liverpool’s grip on their first ever Premier League title. Main challengers Chelsea and Manchester City have dropped points and Liverpool are now 5 points clear of Chelsea and 6 points clear of City, although City have a game in hand.
Arsenal are a point in front of Everton in the race for the final Champions League spot for next season, after Everton’s home loss to the much improved Crystal Palace.
Arsenal came back from a recent poor run of results with wins over West Ham and Hull, scoring three goals in each of those matches, both included a brace from Lukas Podolski. More good news included a return to the starting line up of Mesut Özil and Aaron Ramsey, with Ramsey picking up a goal and two assists against Hull.
Liverpool have been on an eleven game winning run and if they continue that they can not be overtaken at the top of the table. They face the test of second placed Chelsea at Anfield on Sunday, followed by Crystal Palace away, which is no easy game on their current form and finishing at home to Newcastle, where the opposite is probably true.
Chelsea’s best chance of securing another Premiership title is to beat Liverpool, in what could be considered a six point game, then beat relegation threatened Norwich and Cardiff City. Having been beaten by bottom placed Sunderland on Saturday, none of those look like easy options. If they can achieve a 100% record in their remaining games they would still require either Palace or Newcastle to do them a favour against Liverpool.
Chelsea also have the little matter of two matches against Atlético Madrid in the European Champions League to deal with, tonight and next Wednesday.
Manchester City recovered last night with a 3-1 win over West Bromwich Albion, after their loss to Liverpool and draw with Sunderland. City have one extra Premier League game than their rivals in the run in, facing Crystal Palace and Everton away before finishing with two home games against Aston Villa and West Ham. The first two fixtures could easily prove stumbling blocks and even if City win all four, they still need Liverpool to drop six points in three games.
At the other end of the table the relegation strugglers have turned on the desperation and picked up valuable points. None more so than Sunderland, having beaten Chelsea and drew 2-2 with Man City.
Fulham picked up three points against Aston Villa and Norwich, but then lost 3-1 to Tottenham at the weekend. Fulham’s final games are against Hull, Stoke and Crystal Palace, none of which are going to be easy.
Cardiff improved their chances of staying up with a win against Southampton and a draw against Stoke. They face fellow strugglers Sunderland next, followed by Newcastle and Chelsea. I would say things are not looking good.
Norwich and West Brom are far from safe. Norwich put in a great second half performance against Liverpool at the weekend, but still lost 3-2 Their fourth loss on the trot. They need a massive turnaround against Man Utd. Chelsea and Arsenal, which looks unlikely.
West Brom picked up points in their previous four matches before losing to Man City. They face West Ham, Arsenal, Sunderland and Stoke in their final matches, all of which could go either way.
So it really does look like Liverpool to claim the title this year, with any three of the bottom five going down to the Championship.
By Max Power