When the winners of the Premier League lift that trophy in May, this weekend may well be looked back on as a defining moment. If Chelsea managed to overcome their rivals, they will certainly look back on a massive victory at the Etihad last night, a game in which Mourinho outclassed Pellegrini with his tactics, both on and off the pitch. With Manchester United dropping more points away to Stoke and Liverpool gifting West Brom an equaliser, this is now set to be a 3 horse race with Arsenal capitalising on their rivals slip-ups to get back to the top of the table. But who is looking the most likely to be lifting that trophy on May 11th?
Manchester City look to be the most complete package when it comes to the three contenders, scoring goals for fun before last night’s setback against Chelsea. Not only was it their first home defeat of the season, but it was also the first time that an opposition goalkeeper left the Etihad with a clean sheet in over 3 years. It doesn’t look to be a huge blow to city, but there are certainly signs from last night that may trouble a few fans as we look forward to the run-in. Their defence was certainly not at its best, and they appeared to be sucked in to Chelsea’s tactics. Their opponents welcomed their attacking style and hit them on the break, something Pellegrini will need to be wary of when visiting the other top sides.
Mourinho insists that Chelsea are not in the hunt for the title race this year, and that they are building for next year, but I hardly think he would be disappointed at lifting the trophy come May. His tactical comments are playing down the pressure on his team as he looks to sneak up on the other two. They may not be the most consistent team, but their efforts last night showed that they have the most astute manager and that could certainly go in their favour as the pressure mounts on their trophy rivals.
Arsenal have no doubt surprised everyone by their sustained efforts in this year’s title race. You wouldn’t have been blamed for assuming that their early lead would slip away as the season went on but they are certainly showing everyone that they are in it for the long haul, calmly dismissing Crystal Palace on Sunday after a tricky first half, without having to play particularly well. The real test for the Gunners will be the depth of their squad as the fixtures now begin to pile up. Will they stick it out at the top of the table or will they succumb to the pressure and will Chelsea or Manchester City steal it from them? Only time will tell.