Thursday, April 21, 2011

Title Race Reopened?

A very interesting round of midweek Prem matches has the football world number-crunching: with 5 games left to play, Chelsea have pulled themselves into second place, leapfrogging Arsenal on goal difference. Both London clubs are on 64 points, 6 back of United. What's more: United must play both clubs-- Arsenal away, Chelsea at Old Trafford. If you can't do the math, I'll help: if United lose both of those games, that's six points dropped.

Still, even the most romantic Gunners or Blues fan would have to admit it is United's title to lose, which is something Fergie doesn't do. United very rarely lose in the final months of the season, particularly when they are in pole position. One could make the argument that this United team is considerably weaker than the Red Devils historically have been, particularly on the road. Check out this statistic to demonstrate that point:

HOME: 15 W, 1 D, 0 L: 46/48 Possible points.
AWAY: 5 W, 9 D, 3 L: 24/51 Possible points.

Chelsea have the best form at the moment, with Arsenal pulling a-- well, an Arsenal-- and coughing up the lead THREE TIMES against Spurs yesterday in a fantastic London Derby. With all these factors, will United cough up the lead in the final five games? And if so, to who?

Let's look at their run-ins, in reverse order (for suspense)..

Bolton (A), Sunday 24 April
Man Utd (H), Sunday 1 May
Stoke (A), Sunday 8 May
Aston Villa (H), Sunday 15 May
Fulham (A), Sunday 22 May

The Stoke and Bolton away fixtures are the games that Arsenal ALWAYS struggle with, and I don't see that changing in a squad with a completely deflated mentality. I think they'll draw at home against United, and lose to Stoke away. Draw at struggling Bolton, squeaking out wins against Fulham and Villa. TOTAL: 8 pts.

West Ham (H), Saturday 23 April
Tottenham (H), Saturday 30 April
Man Utd (A), Sunday 8 May
Newcastle (H), Sunday 15 May
Everton (A), Sunday 22 May

Chelsea are hitting form at the pivotal moment, and their run in is the easiest. They'll have a big win against West Ham and crucially win at home against Spurs. I think they'll show up charged for the United game, but it won't be enough, only ending in a draw. A win against Newcastle, and a draw against Everton away to round out a relatively disappointing season. TOTAL: 11 pts.

Manchester United:
Everton (H), Saturday 23 April
Arsenal (A), Sunday 1 May
Chelsea (H), Sunday 8 May
Blackburn (A), Saturday 14 May
Blackpool (H), Sunday 22 May

The Arsenal and Chelsea fixtures will be difficult, but Ferguson will scrape draws in both. Everton will fight hard but lose at Old Trafford. The two relegation threatened teams at the end of the fixture list will be tough, but not tough enough. Two wins. TOTAL: 11 pts. So..

1) Man United: 81 points
2) Chelsea: 75 points
3) Arsenal: 72 points

And just for fun:
4) Man City
5) Tottenham

There you have it: the end of an exciting season, as I see it. We'll see how it all shakes down. Props to Jose Mourinho on the Copa del Rey crown, who one day will rightfully own the title of the best football coach ever. And to Gareth Bale, who took home the PFA Player of the Year despite fading in recent months.

Feel free to share your comments!

No comments:

Post a Comment