Title now Chelsea’s to lose after Schurrle’s second-half show

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A second-half hat-trick from Germany international Andre Schurrle at Fulham saw Chelsea extend their lead at the top of the Premier League from one to four points over the weekend, and Jose Mourinho’s side’s title challenge looks well-placed for success at highly backable 1/1 odds.

Manchester City, who are 11/8 second-favourites in this market, may be only six points behind the Blues with two games in hand, but the 2011/12 champions’ quadruple quest could make life very difficult at the Etihad over the next couple of months.

Manuel Pellegrini’s men face Wigan at home in the quarter-final of the FA Cup next time out, while Chelsea take on Spurs at home in the top-flight – a fixture they haven’t lost since February 1990.

It’s entirely possible Man City will be nine points off the pace by the time they travel to Hull for their next Premier League outing, which takes place less than 72 hours after they take on Barcelona away in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

The blue half of Manchester have a job on their hands to overturn a 2-0 deficit from the first match and are rank outsiders at 11/1 to go through at Barca’s expense, but their likely progression in the FA Cup would make squeezing in the three games they’ll have in hand on the west Londoners extremely tough.

Furthermore, Chelsea have a far easier set of league fixtures between now and the end of the season, with their trip to Anfield at the end of April sure to be the only game they’ll go into as slight outsiders.

Trips to Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Swansea and Cardiff should yield plenty of success for Mourinho’s slick outfit, while their record of 38 points gained from 42 available at Stamford Bridge this term will be cold comfort to impending visitors Spurs, Arsenal, Stoke, Sunderland and Norwich.

City, on the other hand, must travel to Old Trafford, the Emirates, Anfield and Goodison Park before season’s end and, considering the expected lack of rest time between their plethora of fixtures, a domestic trophy double may be the best the Etihad faithful can hope for from Pellegrini’s first campaign in charge.

Following their fifth defeat to Stoke at the Britannia in six seasons, Arsenal’s title race appears run and they are priced up accordingly at 20/1, with road trips to Spurs, Chelsea and Everton – plus City at the Emirates – to come in the league between now and the start of next month.

Liverpool look a live danger at 5/1 for the title after they extended their unbeaten run in the division to nine games, of which they have won seven, with a 3-0 thumping of Southampton that took them back up to second place.

However, Brendan Rodgers’ side are four points behind Chelsea and have a much trickier set of fixtures still to play, with trips to Old Trafford and Upton Park on the horizon, plus home clashes with Spurs, City, Chelsea and Newcastle as the campaign draws to a close.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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