We have now moved just beyond the halfway point in the title race, with three teams starting to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
It would be a major surprise if one of the trio of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City were not crowned champions come May, but who will it be?
The fact that all three have lost at least once to a side currently in the bottom half of the table shows that nothing can be taken for granted, but who do the fixtures favour on paper?
The Gunners have been ruthlessly efficient against the Premier League strugglers, winning all six of their matches against current bottom-five teams:
Six of their remaining nine home games are against sides no higher than 13th, so there is plenty of scope for picking up points here.
Unfortunately for Arsene Wenger’s men, however, they must still travel to Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea and Everton before the season is over.
Furthermore, in addition to a tricky February that sees them take on Liverpool, Manchester United and Bayern Munich in the space of 12 days, they are then faced with this horror show in March/April:
It is difficult to see this sequence yielding anything but misery, leading me to believe that Arsenal will ultimately have to settle for third.
Jose Mourinho’s charges are a force to be reckoned with on their own patch, dropping just two points at Stamford Bridge so far this season.
Five of their remaining seven fixtures against current top-eight clubs come on home soil, so they have every reason to feel confident going forward:
Where the Blues really seem to gain an advantage, however, is in terms of their schedule. Seldom are they faced with back-to-back clashes against top-quality opposition, with these three double-headers being about as tough as it gets:
Add to this the experience of their manager and I see no reason to change my pre-season prediction that Chelsea would finish the campaign as champions.
The Citizens have been simply sensational on their own patch this season, winning all ten of their Premier League matches.
It is difficult to see any visiting team avoiding defeat at the Etihad Stadium, though Chelsea would appear to stand the best chance of doing so.
Where Manuel Pellegrini’s men could run into significant problems, however, is on their travels, with trips to six of the current top-eight clubs still to be negotiated:
Unlike their main title-rivals, they are competing on four fronts. Furthermore, playing a team as comfortable in possession as Barcelona over two legs is sure to take it out of them in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Like Chelsea, their tougher fixtures tend to be kept apart, though they do face the Blues shortly after a trip to Tottenham:
If anyone has a squad capable of coping with such a gruelling schedule, then it is Manchester City. I cannot help feeling, however, that their remaining away fixtures will be their undoing and that they will ultimately have to settle for second place.
That is my verdict, but who do you think will finish first, second and third?
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