The biggest day of the English Premier League season is over. This past Sunday, the top four teams played against each other and now that Arsenal beat Leicester City 2-1 and Tottenham beat Manchester City 2-1, we have a bit better glimpse at who is most likely to win the title in May.
With just 12 games left in the season, here are the EPL standings for the top four teams fighting for the title.
1) Leicester City – +19 goal differential – 53 points
2) Tottenham Hotspur – +27 goal differential – 51 points
3) Arsenal – +18 goal differential – 51 points
4) Manchester City – +20 goal differential – 47 points
Leicester City have more points and if they had held on to the win, that would have really changed the complexion of the table. Instead of being up five points, Leicester is now up just two and the top four remain in the hunt.
While many still believe Leicester City will collapse at some point, the surprise leaders have the easiest road out of the four teams to win the title. Leicester do not have to play and of their three rivals and do not have any Cup competitions to worry about. This has given Leicester the distinct advantage of players getting much needed rest entering into the last third of the season.
In fact, while the three teams have European and/or FA Cup competitions over the next two weeks, Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri gave the team the week off. They will be back next Monday to prepare for Norwich. That unorthodox approach of giving players time off in the crucial parts of the season may be the key to outlasting their supposed more talented rivals.
If it wasn’t for the shock of Leicester City being in first place, Tottenham would have been the talk of the league as being a shock second place team, going on a title run. Manager Mauricio Pochettino has put his backing on some great young talent and is going for a title.
Like Leicester, Tottenham only have three losses and despite Harry Kane and Dele Alli being the scoring machine for Spurs, it’s their defense that has kept them in the running. Spurs have only allowed 20 goals and lead the league in fewest goals allowed. Tottenham will face a test in the North London Derby against Arsenal in early March but relatively clear sailing after that. A result against Arsenal and they could be prime for a run.
Many people talk about the patented Arsenal collapse but let’s give Arsenal their due and call them a great team. Yes, they may drop the occasional point or two but their comeback against Leicester City shows that they are in it to win it and are not just settling for 4th place this year.
Arsenal arguably has the toughest schedule out of the four considering they must face Tottenham and Manchester City away but Arsenal also has a formidable defense as well as Peter Cech putting in a goalkeeper of the year type of season.
Arsenal’s key to success is that they are getting over their injury issues and if they can remain healthy, they may have a shot at the title. But given the fact that they had to put up a great comeback against Leicester City to not be completely out of the title hunt, Arsenal knows they are very close to being out of the picture.
Manchester City really should be a favorite but they really have an uphill battle. Not only is Manchester City six points behind, but they are still in all four competitions and have had injury issues all season.
Not to mention, Manchester City has a manager who knows he is going to be replaced and while Manuel Pellegrini is using this time to audition for his next job, the relationship between he and the players as well as the team had to have changed somewhat.
Captain Vincent Kompany came back from injury against Tottenham but Kompany has had multiple injuries throughout the season and really was the catalyst of their success.
Who’s the favorite?
At this point, there seems to be a three team race in terms of favorites for the Premier League title. Leicester City, Tottenham and Arsenal are all three with an equal footing to win the title based on their different factors.
For Manchester City, it’s going to be very tough for them to get in the title hunt. Being six points out and 12 games to go, there is still lots of time for Manchester City to pick up those points. It’s just tough when two of the teams you need to pick up multiple points on have only lost three games all season.
This no doubt makes up for last season when Chelsea walked away with the title. This race may come down with all four teams battling for the title on the final day of the season.