The Title Race:The Run In
Posted by Aaron C-Reid | Published on February 29, 2016
After most teams have played 27 league games, the Premier League is still all to play for. Leicester are at the summit, with Tottenham hot on their heels. Arsenal and Manchester City aren’t too far behind either: 5 points and 9 points, respectively. With the league still hanging in the balance, I will evaluate the title challenger’s fixtures.
Leicester – Played 27 – 56 Points
Who would have thought, Leicester City on top after 27 games? Many have been saying for months that the Foxes will drop off and capitulate, but they continue to go from strength to strength. Beating Liverpool, Man City and Tottenham all in quick succession. They have shown fantastic resilience and team spirit throughout the whole of this term and with Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy firing on all cylinders they are favourites in many eyes. While they haven’t been in this position before, it can be argued that they have the easiest fixtures to play. With none of the current top four to play, the Foxes will be quietly confident they can pull off the biggest shock in Premier League history and win the Premier League. Their toughest fixtures all come in the final three weeks and they will hope to have a considerable lead on the other teams by then. They play both Manchester United and Chelsea away. However, both United and Chelsea will have little to play for, so it may be easier than expected.
Toughest Fixtures: 1st May vs Manchester United (a)
7th May vs Everton (h)
15th May vs Chelsea (a)
Tottenham – Played 27 – 54 points
Tottenham have been another surprise package in the title race. They have the youngest squad in the League, with an average age of 24.6. With not much squad experience many assumed that the North London side would have to develop more before challenging for the title. However, they have had the best defence in the league, only conceding 21, which is 5 less than anyone else. Spurs are the most on form team in the league, having won their last six games. Harry Kane has continued to perform at the same level as last season, Dele Alli has emerged as a prosperous talent and their defence has been formidable. Even though they have been superb in recent months, I think they have the most difficult fixtures to come. Their next week is potentially season-defining: as they play both West Ham and Arsenal in massive London derbies.
Toughest Fixtures: 2nd March vs West Ham United (a)
5th March vs Arsenal (h)
2nd April vs Liverpool (a)
10th April vs Manchester United (h)
2nd May vs Chelsea (h)
Arsenal – Played 27 – Points 51
Ths Gunners have possibly been the most inconsistent team in the league. Having only won 2 of their last six games, Arsenal are starting to drift from the herd. Some thought their title bid had been revitalised after a last-gasp win against Leicester. However, their players continue to misfire in front of goal and without Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla their midfield looks empty. Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott all have been finishing poorly in recent weeks and the Gunners continue to falter in games that they are expected to win. They Have the best record against the top four, but have stuttered against out of form teams. After recent losses against Manchester United and Chelsea, the Gunners need to establish some consistency if they want to be crowned champions in May. They seem to rely heavily on Mesut Özil and Petr Cech while other individuals are out of form. They also have a difficult run-in, with tough trips to White Hart Lane and The Etihad still to come.
Toughest Fixtures: 5th March vs Spurs(a)
9th April vs West Ham United (a)
7th May vs Man City (a)
Man City – Played 26 – Points 47
Some may think that City are already dead and buried in the title hunt, however, both the titles they have won have come from clawing back a big deficit. If they can get their star player fit, they have a great chance to overturn the points deficit. But it will be difficult, especially after consecutive defeats to Leicester and Tottenham put them nine points adrift from the leaders. The Blues need an upturn in form, and they need it quick. The advantage they have over the other teams is that their squad has won it before. That will give them a huge psychological boost. Another advantage is that their confidence will be high, after defeating Liverpool to win the Capital One Cup. City may have the easiest run in of the lot, but also lie the furthest behind. They will need Sergio Aguero firing on all cylinders and Vincent Kompany’s fitness will be essential if they want to amount any sort of title push.
Toughest Fixtures: 2nd March vs Liverpool (a)
16th April vs Chelsea (a)
7th May vs Arsenal (h)