The televised fixture between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad on Sunday is already looking like a second-place decider especially if Chelsea win at Crystal Palace on Saturday. Manchester United can enhance their prospects of finishing in the top four by beating West Brom on the same day while a draw in the Merseyside derby looks the most likely outcome of the match on Monday Night Football.
Liverpool may have something to say about the City and Arsenal meeting being key in deciding who are runners-up in the Premier League this season. However, there is no doubt that Chelsea look almost home and hosed. They have won their last ten matches in the league and have conceded just two goals in that spell. Chelsea are now six points clear at the top of the table and don’t look like slipping up.
A London derby can see some unpredictable results but everything points to Chelsea winning at Palace to go nine points clear, at least until other matches over the weekend have been played. This Chelsea team under Antonio Conte is a different beast to the brooding outfit that virtually got Jose Mourinho the sack about this time last year. The stellar players are now delivering and Diego Costa is concentrating on scoring goals rather than trying to start World War Three.
Palace have conceded 2, 3 and five goals in three of their last four fixtures. Losing at home to Manchester United in a close game is not a disaster but letting Swansea score five goals and Hull three suggests there are serious deficiencies in the defence. Wilfred Zaha has been a revelation but he could move to Tottenham in the January transfer window which would leave Palace without their best player by some distance.
Chelsea look unstoppable on current form and it’s a fine achievement to take maximum points from ten games on the bounce. There truly are no easy games in the Premier League so this perfect run has been telling in the context of who will be the champions this season. Despite the best efforts of the teams in pursuit Chelsea are the best team in the league and could have it won by Easter.
It would be a major shock if Palace prevented the unblemished run extending to 11 games and Chelsea can win to nil and by more than one goal. First goal bettors will be interested in the obvious in Costa but Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas may be worth a look at much bigger prices. Chelsea can pick up three points yet again and leave the scraps for City and Arsenal to fight over when they play the following day.
Their fixture truly is a six pointer as any one of the three match results is feasible. However, on balance a home win is the most likely scenario which would again put a dent in Arsenal’s title aspirations. They had been playing well before losing on the road to Everton this week. Fans are saying that fixture and the trip to City will define Arsenal’s season. It’s one game down and one defeat so another loss in the north west would seriously damage the side and Arsene Wenger.
City were unconvincing against Watford on Wednesday night at home but recorded a much needed victory. Pep Guardiola sounded ridiculous when he said the teams he coaches don’t do tackles which is a fundamental aspect of the game. Leicester didn’t hang around to argue the point last weekend and were two-up against City inside the first two minutes. Guardiola has never experienced a crisis of this nature during his managerial career but City can get back on track by beating Arsenal.
Manchester United are unbeaten in seven matches in all competitions and West Brom are not good enough to break that sequence. Mourinho talks about being happy with the evolution of the side he inherited but now there is some substance to the style. But for conceding late goals in a number of matches they have dominated United could be right in the mix at the top of the table. Another three points is on the cards at West Brom and more movement in the right direction in the table.
West Brom are seventh after a solid start to the season but they have only won six of 16 fixtures, scoring 23 goals and conceding 19. They have failed to win half of their home matches in the league and are unlikely to prevent a United team in form from winning three league matches in a week. West Brom’s season will not be defined by matches against the top six but how they fare against mid-table opposition will determine if this will be their best season in the Premier League to date.
Despite a poor run of results Everton are unbeaten at home in the league this season. They showed more determination than Arsenal in their fixture and were worthy winners. Arsenal supporters are not letting the Wenger issue rest and their could be more protests if City beat Arsenal. Ronald Koeman is still in the honeymoon period at Everton but he needed that home win against Arsenal.
Liverpool capitulated against Bournemouth, losing 4-3 after leading 3-1 with 20 minutes of the match remaining. The home draw with West Ham was another blow to their title ambitions but a three-nil victory at Middlesbrough righted the ship. Even so they are not the team to spoil Everton’s unbeaten run at home and the Merseyside derby looks nailed on for stalemate and a draw.