Five games that will define the Premier League season
Chelsea’s impressive 1-0 victory over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium secured a Premier League double for the Blues and in doing so has thrown the title race wide open.
Jose Mourinho’s side are now 9/5 shots to land a fourth Premier League title but with so many crucial games remaining in what’s been an incredible season so far there is still plenty more drama ready to unfold.
Our news team pinpoint five of the biggest and potentially significant clashes yet to be played out:
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers will be eager to grab maximum points here and try to reel in the top three but the Pools’ recent league form against Arsenal at Anfield doesn’t bode well for their chances.
Arsenal are unbeaten in their last six Premier League trips to the red half of Merseyside and can claim a third consecutive victory in front of the Kop.
This clash marks the first of many difficult assignments for Arsene Wenger’s Gunners over the next six weeks and they won’t want to give their rivals any advantages following this lunchtime kick-off.
Stoke v Arsenal – Saturday 1st March
Manchester United’s visit to the Emirates doesn’t make the cut on this list which is arguably a damning indictment of David Moyes’ side despite their victory over Arsenal earlier in the season.
Instead, the north London outfit’s trip to face Stoke is highlighted, a fixture that no doubt strikes fear into supporters’ hearts, not least because it provokes memories of Ryan Shawcross’ horror challenge on Aaron Ramsey that broke the midfielder’s leg in 2010.
Thankfully, Ramsey is fully recovered and enjoying his best season to date, but the Wales international won’t be having the last laugh if his side can’t improve upon a record of just one win in five top-flight games at the Britannia Stadium.
Chelsea v Arsenal – Saturday 22nd March
Poor Arsenal. If they’re going to win a first trophy in nine years then they’re going to have to do it the hard way with this trip to Stamford Bridge followed by a home game against Manchester City.
This particular London derby hasn’t been kind to Wenger’s boys in recent years with their Robin van Persie-inspired 5-3 victory in 2011 one of only two victories from their previous nine league meetings in west London.
Add to that the fact that Chelsea haven’t lost to Arsenal in the 10 matches where Mourinho has been in charge and it could be difficult to see the visitors getting much here.
Man United v Man City – Tuesday 25th March
City thumped United 4-1 earlier in the campaign and even though the axis of power in Manchester might be finally changing, the Sky Blues won’t be expecting an easy ride at Old Trafford.
And losing to Chelsea has arguably highlighted a few potential weaknesses in Manuel Pellegrini’s side with Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho sorely missed against the Blues.
Both are likely to return in time for derby day but if they’re lacking in match sharpness and City put in another sub-par performance then expect Rooney and co to take no prisoners.
Arsenal v Man City – Saturday 29th March
If Arsenal have emerged virtually unscathed from the above then they’ll be in a fantastic position to clinch the title.
However, Pellegrini’s Manchester City will have other ideas and will be either buoyant or seething following their trip to face rivals United.
Not that they’ll need any further motivation with both of these teams likely to be still fighting for the Premier League crown as they enter the home straight.
The hosts will be out to avenge their miserable 6-3 defeat to City at the Etihad although they’ll have to be at their scintillating best against a side who left the Emirates with all three points following a comfortable 2-0 win towards the business end of last season.
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