With Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City all idle this past week in the Premier League, Chelsea were able to extend their lead at the top of the table.
The Blues hosted Tottenham and took them to school, as Jose Mourinho and company emerged with a 4-0 triumph.
This pushes Chelsea to 66 points in 29 games played. Liverpool and Arsenal are next with 59 points in 28 games played. The margin for error for both of those clubs is rapidly diminishing.
Then there is Manchester City sitting in fourth with 57 points, but with just 26 league matches under their belt.
Have a look at the table following Week 29, then I'll offer up a prediction for all of the upcoming action.
The Blues will be travelling this week, but they are also facing the mediocre Aston Villa. This means the clubs pursuing Chelsea will be best served to pick up three points to avoid sliding even further behind.
|Hull vs. Manchester City||Saturday, March 15||12.45 p.m. GMT/07.45 a.m. ET||0-2|
|Everton vs. Cardiff||Saturday, March 15||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||2-1|
|Fulham vs. Newcastle||Saturday, March 15||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||1-2|
|Southampton vs. Norwich||Saturday, March 15||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||2-1|
|Stoke vs. West Ham||Saturday, March 15||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||1-2|
|Sunderland vs. Crystal Palace||Saturday, March 15||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||1-0|
|Swansea vs. West Bromwich Albion||Saturday, March 15||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||1-1|
|Aston Villa vs. Chelsea||Saturday, March 15||5.30 p.m. GMT/12.30 p.m. ET||0-2|
|Manchester United vs. Liverpool||Sunday, March. 16||1.30 p.m. GMT/8.30 a.m. ET||1-3|
|Tottenham vs. Arsenal||Sunday, March. 16||4 p.m. GMT/11 a.m. ET||1-2|
Manchester United 1-3 Liverpool
Picking against Manchester United at Old Trafford has become shockingly easy, and I expect them to get handled by Liverpool.
The Red Devils' season took yet another downturn with a 2-0 loss at Olympiakos in Champions League play. United did rebound in their next match, which was their last time on the pitch, by pulling out a 3-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion.
Even after wins, however, things are a mess for this proud club, which this tweet from 101 Great Goals helps highlight:
The article in the link cites rumors coming from sources of RVP's unhappiness with his situation at Manchester United, via the Mirror's Simon Mullock. The Dutch striker also creates a little speculation with his own comments.
This quote from van Persie is from Goal.com and it was also featured in the above 101 Great Goals piece:
Certain managers can hit the right nerve with a player. They have that quality. As I have got older and more experienced, I have become more sensitive to what my coaches are doing.
Granted, that is a rather vague comment, but it's transparent enough to leave fingers pointing at manager David Moyes—not that they weren't already pointing in that direction.
At any rate, these are the conditions which the defending league champions must overcome to take down the explosive Liverpool attack.
The Reds have won their past four league matches and have scored a combined 15 goals in that stretch. Manchester United's shallow midfield will be overwhelmed and Liverpool will cruise.
Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Arsenal
Tottenham have had a valiant run this season, and they sit in fifth in the table.
That doesn't mean Spurs have the talent to hang with the teams in front of them, however. That much was on display their last time on the pitch when Chelsea made mincemeat out of them with a 4-0 victory.
Now they must face an Arsenal squad desperate to get back to the top of the table, and one that is recapturing some of the form that helped them get off to such a blazing start.
Arsenal's last time on the pitch came in the FA Cup against a good Everton squad. Mesut Ozil netted a goal and three assists as the Gunners cruised 4-1.
That was exactly what Arsenal and Ozil needed. Gooner Updates passes along a quote from manager Arsene Wenger that helps explain:
Wenger on Ozil: "He was affected by the missed penalty [against Bayern]. He has recovered and had a great display on Saturday."— Gooner Updates (@GoonerUpdates) March 10, 2014
Arsenal will play the second leg of that matchup with Bayern Munich five days prior to their match with Tottenham. That shouldn't slow down the Gunners.
The Gunners may not win on aggregate over Bayern Munich, but they will offer a solid performance. After that, Ozil will continue his personal redemption tour with a great performance against Tottenham.
Hull City 0-2 Manchester City
Manchester City have been busy, and they will get no respite from their hectic schedule heading into this contest.
Just three days prior to taking on Hull City, the Citizens will take on Barcelona in the second leg of their Champions League encounter. City trail 0-2 on aggregate and that contest will come at Camp Nou.
In other words, a comeback is not likely, but it is close enough that Manuel Pellegrini isn't likely to rest his stars. This will leave the Citizens a little drained for this match, but this deep team can overcome that.
With just 30 goals on the league year, Hull don't have the firepower to hang with the Citizens.
Manchester City will make easy work of this one and keep pace with Chelsea in the process.