6 Pivotal Games Remaining in the Premier League Title Race

Michael Cummings@MikeCummings37World Football Lead WriterJanuary 18, 2016

6 Pivotal Games Remaining in the Premier League Title Race

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    Sixteen rounds remain in the 2015-16 Barclays Premier League season, and if there's one thing we know about the current title race, it's that we have no idea who will win it.

    Arsenal currently top the table with 44 points through 22 matches, leading surprise challengers Leicester City on goal differential. Manchester City sit one point behind, with Tottenham Hotspur (39 points) and Manchester United (37 points) also within reasonable closing distance.

    So, who will win? Well, we still have no idea. But we do think that the following six matches will prove pivotal in the title race.

Manchester City vs. Leicester City

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    When: Feb. 6

    Where: Etihad Stadium


    The end of the season will still be too far away to call this one a title decider, but Manchester City's home match against Leicester City on Feb. 6 could turn out to be a turning point in the race for the trophy.

    Both teams will play twice more before this match, so the distance between them should not be much more than the current gap of one point. City could use a victory to put themselves ahead of Leicester permanently, while the Foxes will hope to prove their title credentials once again.

    The return fixture, which fell right in the middle of the busy holiday period, finished in a scoreless draw. With the stakes so high and time starting to run short, we foresee the rematch producing a bit more excitement at both ends of the pitch.

Arsenal vs. Leicester City

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    When: Feb. 13

    Where: Emirates Stadium


    The match at the Etihad is the first of two crucial away trips for Leicester City. Just a week later, the Foxes will have to make the trek south to London to play current leaders Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

    To say the two-game run is huge for Leicester would be an understatement. Winning both would serve as the biggest sign yet that Claudio Ranieri's men are up to the task. Losing both might not end their challenge but would certainly represent a damaging blow.

    All season the naysayers have waited for Leicester to fall away. They haven't yet, and results suggest we shouldn't necessarily expect their downfall any time soon. Although Arsenal won the return fixture 5-2 at the King Power Stadium, that defeat remains one half of Leicester's total in the loss column all season.

    Ranieri's men have been tough to beat all season. But this will be their toughest challenge yet.

Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur

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    When: Feb. 14

    Where: Etihad Stadium


    Like Leicester, Manchester City will have an important two-game stretch in February. One week after hosting the Foxes, City will welcome Tottenham Hotspur to the Etihad for another showdown of title hopefuls.

    The difference is that, unlike Leicester, Manchester City will play both games in the comfort of their own stadium. Winning both games could give Manuel Pellegrini's men the perfect platform to launch a sustained run in the league.

    It won't be easy, though. In the return fixture, Tottenham routed City 4-1 back in September.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal

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    When: March 5

    Where: White Hart Lane


    Are Tottenham Hotspur in the title race? Mauricio Pochettino's men sit just five points behind Arsenal, the current leaders, but haven't generated nearly as much chatter as their north London rivals.

    That could change on March 5, when Arsenal pay a visit to White Hart Lane for the second north London derby of the Premier League season. Tottenham outplayed their neighbors for much of the first but had to settle for a 1-1 draw after Kieran Gibbs equalized 13 minutes from time.

    If the gap between the teams remains somewhere near the current five points, this north London derby could have greater implications than mere bragging rights. It could prove pivotal in the Premier League title race.

Manchester City vs. Manchester United

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    When: March 19

    Where: Etihad Stadium


    Following Manchester United's victory over Liverpool at the weekend, manager Louis van Gaal fielded questions about whether the title was still within reach for his team. He left little doubt as to his feelings on the matter.

    "The gap is seven points," he said, per BBC Sport. "We can overcome that, so that's what I'm thinking about."

    One factor working in United's favor is the fixture list. Between now and the end of the season, Van Gaal's men will have their chance against each of the four teams ahead of them. The most important of those games might be the second Manchester derby of the Premier League season.

    The fixture falls on March 19, four days after Manchester City are scheduled to host Dynamo Kyiv in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League round-of-16 tie. With fatigue possibly working against their rivals, United will be hoping to make a statement on the enemy's turf.

Manchester City vs. Arsenal

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    When: May 7

    Where: Etihad Stadium


    Of all the games on this list, Manchester City's home date against Arsenal on May 7 might be the most pivotal.

    Title decider? It could be.

    Without discounting Leicester's remarkable achievement this season, it's fair to say that Manchester City and Arsenal are the two most likely candidates to lift the Premier League trophy in May. Of all the candidates, they have the biggest and best squads, and both are well-positioned to sustain a challenge.

    Thus this match, on the second-to-last weekend of the season, could be immense. When Arsenal defeated Manchester City 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium in December, the Gunners appeared to be the team to beat. But the gap between the teams currently stands at one point, and the title race figures to go down to the wire.

    Manchester City will have the advantage of playing this game at home, just like those three other key matches, against Leicester, Tottenham and Manchester United. In other words, although Manuel Pellegrini's men haven't fully convinced this season, the fixture list means they'll have their say about who wins the league.