They hold a five-point lead at the top and have a manager in Jose Mourinho who is vastly experienced, having won the Premier League title on two previous occasions. They have a settled team and any weaknesses they had in their squad, they addressed in the summer with the addition of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas. Chelsea’s record against their closest rivals is also very impressive as Mourinho knows how to set his teams up. The Blues can often win games when they aren’t playing well, which is the hallmark of any title-winning side.
They will run Chelsea very close as they have an incredible array of talent at their disposal but they have not been consistent enough this season. Brilliant performances, such as a 5-0 win against Newcastle, have been intertwined with appalling ones, like a 2-2 draw with Burnley. Motivation seems to have been an issue with this City team, every time they have won the league, they have failed to deliver the following season. So it will be up to Manuel Pellegrini to get his team fired up. With the likes of Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure anything is possible but their ambitions may lie in the Champions League.
Mourinho was correct in his assessment that Arsenal should be challenging for the title, particularly when you consider that they have players like Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla. But a lack of trophies has been down to one aspect in the last few seasons – belief. The Gunners seem to have recaptured that recently, which was highlighted by their 2-0 win over City. However, it appears to have come too late and they are 12 points behind league leaders Chelsea. If Wenger purchases a few top class centre-halves in the summer then Arsenal will be a threat next season, but they have conceded 29 goals already in this campaign, which is far too many for a title challenger.
They will scrape fourth position by the skin of their teeth and not because they were good enough, but more down to the world-class players they possess who are capable of winning games single-handedly. They will also be aided by a lack of European football so their players should theoretically be fresh every week. Louis van Gaal has got them playing in a very methodical and measured way but it is getting results, even though it can be boring to watch. They have only lost twice in 19 games and that sort of form is likely to get them a Champions League place.
They are in exceptional form right now and Brendan Rodgers has got the best of his players through the utilisation of the 3-4-3, but they are still in the FA Cup and have commitments in the Europa League which will cost them a place in the top four. Liverpool have an excellent first eleven but they lack the squad depth of those who this columnist has predicted to finish in the top four – and should Daniel Sturridge get injured again, that will surely be the nail in the coffin.
Similar to Liverpool in that they also have other competitions to contend with which is likely to affect fitness. This wouldn’t be an issue if they had good depth to their squad but it is clear that if either Harry Kane or Christian Eriksen get rested or have an injury – they will struggle to score and create goals. They also have a tricky final month of fixtures which include City, and away trips to Stoke and Everton which could derail any top four ambitions.
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