Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has stated on many occasions his team aren't ready to be champions, but the Blues' current position atop the Premier League table might challenge the Portuguese's statements.
The "mind games" are in full swing, it seems.
Every season has multiple contenders, so the notion only one team is favoured to be champions—or lose the championship—is nonsensical.
Chelsea have been in and among the table's top three positions for an overwhelming portion of the season. In a league rife with parity, this bodes well for the Blues.
The west London side have seven fixtures left to parse and being within reasonable striking distance of silverware is all managers, players and supporters want at this stage.
Mourinho's men face Crystal Palace (A), Stoke City (H), Swansea City (A), Sunderland (H), Liverpool (A), Norwich City (H) and Cardiff City (A) to round out their 2013-14 Premier League campaign. Currently resting on 69 points, the Blues will be favourites to collect at least 18 (of 21) more—making 87 points.
Other than Manchester United in 1994-95 and 2011-12, no team has ever lost the title with more than 86 points in the Premier League era. Meaning Chelsea would have an historical advantage should they reach the 87-point threshold.
One problem though: Chelsea aren't playing in a vacuum.
Manchester City are certainly primed to catch the Blues, with a maximum total of 93 points available.
After City's comfortable 3-0 victory at Old Trafford on Tuesday, the lead Chelsea possess has shrunk to three points—with the Citizens holding two games in hand and a superior goal difference.
Manchester City play Arsenal (A), Southampton (H), Liverpool (A), Sunderland (H), West Bromwich Albion (H), Crystal Palace (A), Everton (A), Aston Villa (H) and West Ham United (H) to finish their season. Not exactly a simple fixture list to navigate—at least when compared to Chelsea's remaining fixtures.
If Chelsea's form holds—more in the vain of Arsenal (6-0) than Aston Villa (0-1)—the four games which will decide the title are: Chelsea at Liverpool and Manchester City at Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton.
Who is the common factor in those lists?
Answer: Liverpool Football Club.
The Reds are absolutely flying. Scoring 24 goals during the course of six consecutive Premier League victories, Brendan Rodgers' side is battering their opponents with devastating attacking prowess.
Their comeuppance will be defensive shortcomings. Liverpool's victory in Wales on Saturday was vital, but conceding three goals to Cardiff City isn't a positive omen. Against Chelsea, or even Manchester City, allowing just one goal could mean losing all three points.
Liverpool's transformation has been astounding, and you might even back the Reds to win a trophy in the near future, but they remain a dark horse to lift the Premier League trophy this season—nothing more.
Chelsea must win every remaining match and have the Citizens drop at least four points from nine games. While not impossible to conceive, it's hard to foresee a team like Manchester City imploding with a trophy on the line.
That said, stranger things have happened; a Mourinho side, with John Terry, Petr Cech and Frank Lampard leading the pack, will definitely be in contention come the 38th game of the season—the only question left to answer is: Will 38 matches be enough?
If you're a Blue, cross your fingers.
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