If I had a penny for every time someone asked who I thought would win the Premier League this season, I’d have enough money to buy Portsmouth. Such is the case I don’t have the few odd millions lying around to purchase the cash-strapped club. Although for what it’s worth, I can give an insight as to who could win the Premiership.
A mere point separates each of the top three contenders vying to lift the Premier League trophy in May. Manchester United currently lead the elite three on 69 points, Chelsea on 68, and Arsenal on 67. The irony of this title race is that every week, one team has the “title to lose,” whereas another is “out of the race” entirely.
Take Chelsea for example, after being knocked out of the Champions League by Inter Milan and their former manager Jose Mourinho, they drew 1-1 to Blackburn courtesy of a late El Hadji Diouf equaliser. Immediately, fans and pundits alike were writing off Chelsea’s chances, but a game in hand later and victory over West Ham has put them right back in the frame.
Each of the clubs have played 31 league games, and with only 7 games left, remaining points gained and lost are precious and priceless. Unlike past seasons, defeats for the title contenders have not been a rarity. This is not to suggest that the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, or Arsenal have gotten weaker, on the contrary.
Other sides are now bolstering their squads, which has allowed the likes of Manchester City (albeit with their money power), Aston Vila, Tottenham, and Everton to seriously contend for that converted fourth place that has no longer been “guaranteed” to Liverpool.
Manchester United, 69 points
If Manchester United can triumph in the Premier League, they will surpass arch rivals Liverpool’s record of 18 league titles won. Never has Ferguson needed any more incentive to win a Premier League than this season.
Following Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure, many questioned whether United would maintain a title challenge. But Wayne Rooney has perhaps single-handedly taken the club and ensured the Premier League is well within their grasp. United, too, play their final game of the season at home against Stoke.
The “title decider” against Chelsea may be at home for United, but it comes in between the two-legged Champions League affair against Bayern Munich. Like Chelsea, they must face Manchester City and Tottenham at home.
Rest assured Alex Ferguson knows his team and has the players with experience, specifically Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, and Ryan Giggs, who have the winning mentality and know how to win titles.
Chelsea, 68 Points
After being dumped out of the Champions League by their two-time title winning manager Mourinho, winning the Premiership is a must for Chelsea and Carlo Ancelotti, who was said to have been “tactically beaten” by Mourinho.
Despite taking Chelsea to a Champions League final, Avram Grant failed to deliver the Premier League when he took over following Mourinho’s shocking exit. Phil Scholari was soon shown the door after failing to impress, which didn’t give Gus Hiddink much to contend with when he was brought in to finish the season.
Hence, the onus is on Ancelotti to deliver the Premier League title after a three-year hiatus. Chelsea, like Arsenal, finish the season at home against Roberto Martinez’s Wigan. Although, of the three sides, they perhaps have the trickiest run in.
The final seven games commence with a home match against Aston Villa, followed by a potential six-pointer against Man United at Old Trafford. In addition, they face tough away trips to Tottenham and Liverpool as the race for fourth place comes to a dramatic conclusion.
Of the three sides, Chelsea are no longer in the Champions League which gives them incentive to focus solely on the Premier League, although they face a semifinal clash with Aston Villa in the FA Cup at Wembley.
Arsenal, 67 Points
Arsenal are yet to win a trophy since their scarcely-deserved penalty shootout victory over Man United in the FA Cup. Over those years, manager Arsene Wenger’s management and transfer policy have been under scrutiny. Yet, his youngsters have come to age this season, and if a Premier League title is won, it could be the platform of greater things to come.
Of their final games, Arsenal play three at home, most notably against fourth-place-chasing Man City, and the final game of the season against Fulham, who could well be preparing for a Europa League final judging on their recent European exploits.
An away match that could prove difficult for Arsenal is their North London derby at White Hart Lane against the Spurs who—like a cluster of clubs—are determined to take the final Champions League place.
To say that the title will go down to the wire is not only a cliché, but also a major understatement.
Nonetheless, it is the first time in recent years where it has not been a two-horse race. All three sides have a great chance in winning the Premier League, but for every supporter of each club, there is an opinion as to the destination of the trophy. A penny for your thoughts...?
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