As we enter the final stretch of the Premier League title race, things are really hotting up with 3 teams realistically challenging for the crown and a handful of clubs still in danger of falling through the trapdoor to the Championship.
When we first looked at the title race way back in November, Arsenal were leading the way and looked like the real deal, Manchester City were struggling to win away from home and Chelsea were quietly picking up points without setting the world on fire. Meanwhile, Liverpool were starting to look like genuine top four contenders and just down the M62, Manchester United were having a “blip” under their new boss, David Moyes.
Fast forward to our next review in February and Arsenal were still just a point off the pace – despite a recent battering at Anfield, Manchester City had sorted out their away form to become most people’s title favourites and Chelsea were continuing to progress at a steady pace under Mourinho.
Over at Anfield, Brendan Rodgers team were still defying all the odds by remaining in touch with the leaders while things were going from bad to worse for David Moyes, as Man United’s form continued to slide.
Now, with just 6 games left, it is the team from Merseyside who lead the way and they can claim a first league title in 24 years if they manage to win all of their remaining games. Man City can also guarantee a second title in three years by winning all their games, making their clash with Liverpool at Anfield one of the most mouth-watering fixtures of the run-in.
Chelsea can finish above the Reds if they win all of their games (they also have to visit Anfield) but they would need a couple of slip ups from Pellegrini’s men to secure a title for Mourinho in his first season back at Stamford Bridge. It turned out to be yet another false dawn for Arsenal, who have fallen out of the title race and are now looking over their shoulder as Everton gain ground on the fourth place spot. And remarkably, last year’s Champions Man United will miss out on a Champions League place for the first time since 1995 – unless they can somehow win the competition this year.
With Liverpool and City both having control over their own destiny, it is no surprise that these two teams are now favourites. If Liverpool win every game it would complete a run of 14 straight wins – a feat that was last achieved by Arsenal over a decade ago. The jump from seventh place to league champions in one year would be a remarkable achievement for the Reds and Brendan Rodgers may be worth backing now at 5/4 (BetVictor) for manager of the season. With 2 games in hand, Manchester City remain the clear title favourites with best odds of 5/6 currently available but if you believe that Liverpool can pull off a 19th league title, you can back them now at a generous 15/8 with Bet365. Chelsea are still not out of the race and are also good value at 15/2 with Bet365.
At the other end of the table, Fulham look doomed already and will need a miraculous run of games to stay in the league – hence their 1/7 price. Cardiff also look in big trouble and are also odds-on (3/10) to join the Cottagers in the Championship next season. The remaining relegation spot offers slightly better value with West Brom and Norwich both available at 3/1 to make the descent. The Baggies have a game in hand and a much better goal difference than Chris Hughton’s team, so the Canaries look favourites to take the final spot.
The bookies disagree and have Sunderland as favourites to take the third relegation spot, but Gus Poyet’s men still have the luxury of 2 or 3 games in hand on their rivals. So let’s make one last bold prediction for the 2013/14 Premier League season. Top fiur positions; Liverpool Man City Chelsea Arsenal
Relegated; Fulham Cardiff Norwich Manager of the season: Brendan Rodgers Player of the season; Luis Suarez