By Ian Palmer
The countdown to the English Premier League crown is in its final stages and unless they self destruct Chelsea will be the kings come May. All the London club needs to do is match the results of their nearest rivals each game day. With 67 points under their belt, the Stamford Bridge outfit currently sits six points ahead of second-place Manchester City, seven in front of Arsenal and eight up on Manchester United. To give the leaders an even greater cushion, they also have a game in hand on each of those clubs. Chelsea has a further 27 points to play for while their challengers have just 24.
bet365 lists their odds of winning the Premier League at 1/16 and at 2/7 to beat Stoke on April 4 with Stoke 10/1 and a draw at 9/2.
Chelsea will guarantee themselves the title for the first time in five years with another 19 points earned. This means they can afford to drop six points over their final nine contests and still take first place. But with just two losses on the season it’s not likely they’ll lose two more in down the stretch. But with the Blues playing inconsistent football and their remaining fixture lists, it’s still certainly possible. Manager Jose Mourinho and his men still have games remaining against Liverpool, Arsenal and Man United and with Mourinho often utilizing defensive tactics against the league’s best teams it wouldn’t be a shock if Chelsea dropped points in these outings.
In addition, each of these three rivals are fighting to finish in the top four and a spot in the European Champions League next term, but none of them have managed to beat Chelsea this campaign. Chelsea also has some weaker squads to face such as Sunderland, Leicester, and Queens Park Rangers. However, all three of these teams are fighting for their Premier League lives as there’s a good chance they could be relegated at the end of 2014/15. Other Chelsea opponents are middle-table teams West Bromwich Albion, Crystal Palace and Stoke City.
The games against the mid-table squads can’t afford to be squandered since the top and bottom teams are the ones that pose the biggest threat to Chelsea. But even if Chelsea doesn’t win all their remaining games, it’s doubtful that Arsenal, Man City and Man United will either. City has lost two of their past four outings and they face stiff tests in Man United, Tottenham and Southampton. If Chelsea has anybody to worry about it may be Arsenal since their London neighbors have won their last six league clashes.
Arsenal has been known to choke in the past though and Chelsea more or less controls their own destiny since they still have to face the Gunners. In addition, Arsenal has games remaining against Liverpool and Man United to make life tougher. This makes the Arsenal vs Chelsea showdown at the Emirates on April 26th a crucial home match for Arsenal. Even a draw would suffice for the Blues though.
Chelsea is far from being a perfect team as we saw with their Champions League exit at the hands of Paris Saint Germain. But they still haven’t lost a Premier League game since New Year’s. If they can remain focused and play to their potential there’s a great chance Chelsea will take the title in a couple month’s time.