|Aston Villa (a)||Hull City (a)|
|Arsenal (h)||Fulham (h)|
|Crystal Palace (a)||Manchester United (a)|
|Stoke City (h)||Arsenal (a)|
|Swansea (a)||Southampton (h)|
|Sunderland (h)||Liverpool (a)|
|Liverpool (a)||West Brom (h)|
|Norwich (h)||Crystal Palace (a)|
|Cardiff (a)||Everton (a)|
|West Ham (h)|
|Aston Villa (h)—TBD|
It's Chelsea's title to lose now. Jose Mourinho is duplicating what he did the first time around, and remarkably, he has an incomplete team leading the table by seven points. Blues fans must surely be satisfied in the extreme. It might not always be pretty, but it's nearly always effective.
Mourinho's Chelsea simply don't lose at home. They also don't lose that often against teams from London. Moreover, Chelsea have precisely the balance and leadership required for this sort of scrap.
As for City, winning their games in hand might be doable, but Manuel Pellegrini's team also have to negotiate back-to-back trips to Manchester United and Arsenal and must go to Anfield and Goodison Park. Those games, in my opinion, will undo City's challenge.
Aside from form, statistics or history of playing against some of these opponents, City's position of being behind in the schedule may purely be enough to see them beaten. Simple games that otherwise would be won become much harder because now they are must-wins. That's what can happen when teams don't play games concurrently.
There's not much between City and Chelsea. I would argue City are a more talented team, and they were my favorites to win it, but it comes down to dynamics.
Chelsea's 4-0 win against Spurs was a catalyst that makes me think they're going to do it. It was a game in which Chelsea were average, and things looked to be going against them, but Samuel Eto'o came in and had a wonderful game, and even Demba Ba contributed (I had forgotten he even played for Chelsea).
Chelsea won comfortably without being special; rather, they played the way they have over the years. This, by the way, is a skill. In recent years, they've won a lot of trophies while at times playing ordinary. They are always well organized. In Mourinho, they have a manager who knows what it takes to win.
As for Spurs, it was a spirited performance, and for long periods of time they were the better team. Tim Sherwood understood they needed to have a go at Chelsea—to press them and attack them. I think they did that until they came undone by simple mistakes and provided gifts to Chelsea.
I wouldn't totally rule out Spurs from the running for the top four. Looking at their schedule, it's manageable, and if they win two or three games on the trot, you can see how at the end of the season, with momentum, and others tripping up, it could be a possibility.
I would have to imagine, in order for that to happen, beating Arsenal at home is a must. That would give Spurs a platform from which to work. Then they can look at the rest of the fixture list and say it's possible.
Sherwood got it wrong
As for the Sherwood's harsh comments after the match, as per the Telegraph, it was admirable for him to speak honestly, but I can't imagine the players will have appreciated his words. No matter how disappointing the result, there's no way a manager should be doing that.
While some will find it refreshing, I find it unacceptable. Sherwood just got there, without experience, and he's trying to get the players to perform for him. But that's not the way to get the best out of people.
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