KARACHI: Cesc Fabregas’ late equaliser against Queens Park Rangers on Sunday practically confirmed that Chelsea would be lifting their first Premier League title since 2010 and their third under Jose Mourinho.
The title race was simply Chelsea’s from the start when the Blues bulldozed all opposition in the opening half of the season to grab a comfortable lead and even though their recent form has dwindled, they have certainly shown title credentials by grinding out results to maintain a seven-point cushion over second-placed Arsenal with a game in hand.
With the title race seemingly decided, we look at the remaining Champions League contenders and how their remaining fixtures would affect their league standings in the final stages of the Premier League.
Arsenal — Predicted league finish — 2nd
Following a run of eight consecutive Premier League wins, Arsene Wenger’s men are in prime position to finish runners-up to Chelsea.
A defeat to Tottenham in early January had left Arsenal languishing in sixth, one place behind their North London rivals and it seemed likely that Wenger’s Champions League qualification streak would finally come to an end. However, the Frenchman once again silenced his critics and guided the Gunners to a respectable second place in the league.
The Gunners have relatively easier remaining fixtures with four home and two away matches however, they face stiff competition from Chelsea and Manchester United, with the result of the latter deciding who cements the second spot in the Premier League. Also, avoiding the Champions League qualifiers by finishing in the top-three would be a lucrative incentive for the Gunners to carry their form into the most intense stage of the league and keep whatever pressure they can impose on Chelsea.
Manchester United — Predicted league finish — 3rd
When Manchester United lost 2-1 to Swansea in February, few would have predicted that the Red Devils would embark on a six-game winning run and haul themselves back into the top-four of the Premier League. Given the fact that United had the most difficult fixtures among the Champions League contenders, it is quite commendable to see Louis van Gaal’s men primed to finish third this season and book their place in Europe’s elite competition, having failed to qualify under David Moyes last season.
With the induction of Juan Mata and Ander Herrera in midfield and Wayne Rooney up front, the 20-time English champions have finally found their rhythm. Keeping in mind that of the teams Red Devils have to face, only Chelsea and Arsenal can provide them with any kind of challenge, they would are almost certain to finish over rivals Liverpool and Manchester City.
Liverpool — Predicted league finish — 4th
With four away and two home games left for the Reds, Brendan Rodgers’ men should not extinguish hopes of a miraculous top-four finish and looking at their away form — one loss in six games — the Reds certainly have the potential to pip defending champions City for the last Champions League spot.
However, having lost substantial ground in the top-four race, Liverpool’s hopes now rest on the performance of others but with Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United practically out of sight, the only solace comes in the form of Manchester City’s poor showing in recent encounters — four losses in the last six games, including the all-important Manchester derby, and that will be the only hope that the Reds will hold on to if they are to bag the riches and the honours that come with Champions League qualification.
Manchester City — Predicted league finish — 5th
Defending champions Manchester City started the season well and kept themselves in the race for the title for most part of the season. However, with recent losses to Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United, the Citizens are clinging onto fourth with manager Manuel Pellegrini’s job coming under scrutiny.
However, the silver lining for the Sky Blues is that they face the easiest of the remaining fixtures and could certainly haul keep their spot in the top four and secure the last remaining spot for the Champions League.
Like Sports on Facebook, follow @ETribuneSports on Twitter to stay informed and join in the conversation.