As Arsenal and United Weaken, Can Chelsea Retain Their Premier League Title?

Toby FoxContributor IMarch 6, 2011

The champions Chelsea with their crown
The champions Chelsea with their crown

First things first, I have to say that I am a massive Chelsea fan, so if you strongly oppose my bias stop reading now.

Right now, the top of the Premier League table looks more interesting than it has in a long time. Shocking results and erratic form have seen England's elite constantly locked together, yet unable to pull away from their rivals. 

Manchester United currently sit atop the table with 60 points in 29 games. At the beginning of the week nobody would really have foreseen them slipping down the table, but defeats to Chelsea and Liverpool have stunned them and denied them a valuable six points, which prove to be even more precious as they failed to capitalize on Arsenal only managing a draw with Sunderland.

Arsenal are one below them, in second place with 57 points in 28 games. On the surface, they appear to be in a commanding position. They have played one game less than United and have a goal difference of 30 to United's 33, so an emphatic win could see them on top in goal difference.

However, as per usual, their injury list looks to be stacking up again. Key players including Van Persie, Fabregas, Vermalen and Walcott are all out for several matches, which could decide the outcome of the title race seeing how the teams are so close. 

The defending champions, Chelsea, are currently down in fourth place with 48 points in 27 games. Although Manchester City sits between Chelsea and Arsenal, Chelsea have a two-game advantage over them and a superior goal difference

—25 to 20.

Although we have not seen the best of Chelsea for a while now, recent results would suggest that they are getting back on track and a victory over Manchester United would have been a huge confidence booster. They also have fewer injuries than both Arsenal and United—just Alex and Benayoun are currently out, yet both are expected to return within the month. 

So what does the future hold for the Premier League contenders? Will United's dip in form continue and see them fall away, or will they bounce back? Will Arsenal's injury list have a crippling effect on the team and lead to bad results, or will their stand-ins steer them to their first trophy in about six years? Will the champions—Chelsea—stutter again, or will they capitalize on their rivals' weaknesses and pinch their crown from under the current pack leaders' noses? Only time will tell.

Some potentially key fixtures in deciding where the Premier League crown ends up:

1st May—Arsenal v United

7th May—Chelsea v United

17th April—Arsenal v Liverpool

20th April—Arsenal v Tottenham

20th March—Chelsea v Man City

30th April—Tottenham