Chelsea asserted themselves in the last 20 minutes of their match against Liverpool at Anfield while Arsenal could not recover from an early two goal deficit against Watford on the same night. The net effect of the resulting draw and loss is that Chelsea are nine points clear of their London rivals ahead of their fixture at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. That could be extended to 12 by full time in the early fixture. The league leaders can manage a game better than anyone in the country.
Spurs are level on points with Arsenal but have a winnable home fixture with Middlesbrough on the same day. The title could be more open if Arsenal can beat Chelsea and Spurs pick up three points. The latter scenario is likely but Arsenal will struggle to beat Chelsea and avoiding defeat looks beyond them. This could be a pivotal weekend in the context of the destination of the title. Chelsea can emerge as even bigger favourites to be the champions for the fifth time in 12 seasons.
The two Manchester clubs must win their matches at the weekend to stay in touch and in the mix to qualify for the Champions League. City look home bankers against Swansea while United should have too much for the current version of Leicester. That side have found their natural level after last season’s remarkable success so everything points to wins for the Manchester superpowers. Leicester are two points above the relegation places and could become the first Premier League champions to drop out of the division the following season.
Chelsea are the best team in the league and would be worthy champions. They struggled under Antonio Conte early in the campaign but he adapted to the demands of English football and Chelsea are looking nailed on for the title. But for a missed Diego Costa penalty against Liverpool the Blues would be 11 points clear with 15 matches remaining. They must lose three while the challengers produce an impeccable record from now to May and that won’t happen. Chelsea could be crowned champions this weekend and nobody would object too strongly.
Arsenal found a new way to disappoint their fans in losing to Watford, a team in poor form and just knocked out of the FA Cup by Millwall. The end really could be nigh for Arsene Wenger after 20 years in charge and only a win at Chelsea will appease the more vocal fans. You wouldn’t put a bean on a team backing up losing at home to Watford with a win at Chelsea though this is Arsenal but not this time. Chelsea can beat Arsenal to virtually tie up the league so they can focus on the Cup. Arsenal face a tricky tie, possibly on the plastic pitch at Sutton which could be Wenger’s last stand.
Boro have won just one of 11 away Premier League fixtures this season and that figure won’t increase after visiting Tottenham. The home side are unbeaten on their own ground after recording nine wins from 11 fixtures, scoring 25 goals and conceding five. In fact no side has let in fewer goals on their own pitch this season and only Chelsea and Liverpool have found the net more often at home. Despite a stumble at Sunderland in midweek Tottenham can beat Middlesbrough by more than one goal and without conceding.
City and United could be battling for the fourth Champions League spot at the end of the season but both are unlikely to qualify and both could miss out. It seems inconceivable that Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho are not involved in Champions League football next season but it could happen. City have a four point advantage and United are rueing another draw after failing to find a winner against Hull at Old Trafford on Wednesday. Two wins will mean as we were and City better placed.
The league is so tight behind Chelsea that City could jump four places with a win pending other outcomes. United will remain in sixth place regardless of results. However, it’s immaterial because Chelsea will be the 2016/17 Premier League champions.