This season, the Premier League has completely taken everyone by surprise and even as we enter the 25th round of fixtures, we are no closer to knowing who is the favorites to clinch the title this season.
Is it Arsenal who seem to have lost some form of late? or Manchester City, who are slowly climbing up the table, or even Hotspurs who have been one of the most consistent teams this season. But just maybe, it is the year of the minnows as Claudio Ranieri will be hoping every day when he wakes up.
There are just 5 points separating the top 4 teams with Arsenal and Leicester at the two ends. There are surely a lot of twists and turns to still unfold in the remainder of the season as we take a closer look at all the key factors that determine this season’s title race:
Leicester’s trips to the Etihad and Emirates in two consecutive games will go a long way in deciding the future off all the clubs while the game between City and Arsenal in the penultimate game week will have a huge say on the title race. Manchester United will have to take something from the game against Chelsea this weekend if they are to stay in the hunt for the title this season. City host the Spurs next weekend in another intriguing game that can effect the top of the Premier League table. The Manchester and the London Derby’s that are still to be played will also be important in this season’s title race.
However, Leicester City has the toughest run of fixtures leading to the end of the season. With a home game against Everton sandwiched between trips to Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge, the going gets tough for Ranieri’s side.
This is where Leicester City have a huge advantage in this season’s title race. They have just 14 league games left his season as they are out from all other cups and can devote their concentration to the Premier League. In stark contrast, Manchester City have 26 games remaining this season as they are alive in all the competitions. The Spurs have one more fixture to deal with their potential 9 Europa League ties starting with the round of 32.
Arsenal also have 25 along with Manchester Untied who are also in the Europa League. If fatigue sets in for the last months of the season, Leicester City has the potential to steal the show.
The number of injuries is always a problem for title-chasing sides and Manchester City are worse off here. With as many as 7 first team players injured, the Citizens need all the depth in their squad till the end of the season. Arsenal and Tottenham are recovering from some crucial injuries while Manchester United are also expecting some key players to return to full fitness this February.
The Foxes have an advantage even in this division as Claudio Ranieri has a potentially fully fit squad to choose from for every game. Only Schlupp and Matty James are out of the squad and are expected to return back to action fairly soon.
Everything said, the key word for every club till the end of the season will be ‘consistency’. Every club vying for the title need to find some consistent results and this is where Tottenham Hotspurs come into the picture. The Spurs have been one of the most consistent teams in the Premier League season and can seriously pose a title threat if they can keep the form up for the rest of the season. Leicester City are also finding back their confidence that they lost in the last few games of last year as Ranieri will be hoping to stay at the top of the table.
Manchester City also have grinded results out recently but Arsenal and Untied are two teams who are badly in need of some positive results. Rooney’s form has seen the Red Devils keep their position at the top of the table but the big guns for the Gunners are misfiring at the moment and need to get some confidence back in the squad if they are to win their first title in more than 10 years.
In all fairness, this title race is as hard to predict even this close to the end of the season as it was at the start of the season. With time to prepare for every fixture are Foxes are in pole position to lift the Premier League this season but Manchester City with their experience of clinching tight title races might yet see them prevail and win their 3rd league title in 6 years.
London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham are also not too far away and Louis van Gaal’s Red Devils may yet emerge as surprise contenders. But whatever the final result, this season has been one of the best in a long time in the top flight of English football.