For the first time in recent years, the Premier League is a three horse race, yet such has been the competition in the league this season that there have been more falls at hurdles than expected. This has resulted in a three horse race turning into a two horse race and vice versa.
Competition for places has been at an all time high as three clubs battle for the title, four clubs fight for the fourth and final Champions League place and a handful of clubs attempt to avoid the financial downfall of relegation.
As the whistle blew at Ewood Park, and Chelsea disappointingly walked off the pitch following a 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers, their title challenge was supposedly all but over.
Prior to this draw Chelsea were tactically dumped out of the Champions League by former manager Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan, losing 1-0 at home in the second leg; 3-1 on aggregate.
Cause for concern as Chelsea are unable to win the coveted Champions League, for another year at least, and a draw away to Blackburn. Coincide that with victories for Manchester United and Arsenal, Carlo Ancelloti’s men “dropped out” the title race.
Yet two games and 12 goals scored later, Chelsea remain well and truly in the title race. Instead, it seems Arsenal at the latest side to “drop out” of the title race following Birmingham’s last gasp equaliser. It is the Gunners now who trail leaders United by 4 points.
Such has been Chelsea’s two match resurgence, that this Saturday’s lunchtime kickoff against United at Old Trafford will be pivotal. I’ve never quite understood the suggestion that a match is a “six pointer” as it is virtually and mathematically impossible, but it’s safe to say that this game can be put into that category.
For it may well be a title decider as each team will have only 5 games remaining to gain precious points towards their title aspirations.
If United can gain victory, they will distant themselves from Chelsea to four points and see the finishing line of their 19th league title; surpassing 18 league titles, currently shared with arch rivals Liverpool.
Nothing will give Alex Ferguson greater pleasure than beating Chelsea to the Premier League title and beating Liverpool in league titles won.
Nonetheless, 12 goals scored in two games will undoubtedly provide Chelsea with the ammunition and confidence to go to Old Trafford and defeat United. This will take Chelsea to two points clear of United with only 5 games remaining.
While it would be wrong to rule Arsenal out of the title race, if the four point gap does end up being too much ground to make up, Arsene Wenger can be pleased his side was in the title race up until the 32nd match.
Never say never though, Arsenal supposedly has the “easier run in” after all. Granted six games left may not be many, but in terms of points there will be eighteen available to be won or lost for all three sides.
While the top two do battle, Arsenal will host Wolverhampton and will consider that a more mathematically possible three pointer. If a draw is played out at Old Trafford then Arsenal are once again involved in the title race.
Three teams but one title. Eight games left but eighteen points up for grabs in 720 minutes of football. Perhaps best to take one game at a time.