Arsenal, Tottenham, Leicester & Man City's Big Tests: 5 Games Which Will Define The Premier League Title Race


People keep telling me it must be an awful season to be a Manchester United fan. In the purest sense they're right, but these people are forgetting one uplifting consolation - that I get to watch this humdinger of a title race as an unsubscribed neutral.

It's not often a United fan could say that over the last 20 years, but if you were going to pick a Premier League season to fanboy vicariously at, this would be it.

We have four teams who might win it. Supposed relegation jesters Leicester lead the pack, followed by 1960s throwback Spurs, eternal miss-out merchants Arsenal and an unpredictable Manchester City team who are far too good at their core to be ruled out.

It's going to be an outpouring of amorous celebrations, bad refereeing decisions and fire emoticons from here until May. Every game will be meaningful, and every moment a Meme, but these are the five matches I think will matter most.

 

March 5th – TOTTENHAM v ARSENAL

FBL-EUR-C3-TOTTENHAM-MONACO : News Photo

We'll start with an obvious thermostat riser. It's a lunchtime kick-off, so expect North London locals to be drinking with breakfast to get the nerves settled for this one. Both sets of fans will go into the game believing they can win the title but fearing the worst. 

November's derby at the Emirates finished 1-1 thanks to Kieran Gibbs' late equaliser, but Spurs fans will draw hope from the fact they've won four of the last six home Premier League games against their bitter rivals at White Hart Lane.

If Arsenal win, the balance could shift in their favour. If Spurs win, it could propel them to the ultimate prize. With so much on the line, not to mention the prospect of no St. Totteringham's day after 20 successive seasons of Gooner gloating, this one will be worth a watch you'd think.

 

March 20th – MAN CITY vs. MAN UTD

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Assuming City are still in the race by the time the derby comes around you've got to imagine it will be a must-win game for them. United, meanwhile, could have no greater motivation than to douse the fires of hope and set the tone for better things to come when we start all over again in August.

The appeal in this game will be all about City's need to attack for the win. They will have to push bodies forward and we could get one of the most open, madcap Manchester derbies in years. 

In a sense both sides will have nothing and everything to lose. I see red cards and red-faced managers in the future of this one.

 

April 9th – SUNDERLAND vs. LEICESTER CITY

Leicester City v Sunderland - Premier League : News Photo

A strange one to highlight you might think, but Sunderland have got Premier League survival to fight for and will be armed by Big Sam to go heavily into battle here.

Leicester won the home game 4-2, and there's no doubting they are by far the better side, but if Sunderland can bring full intensity backed by a crowd in fine voice this could be a thunderous encounter to test Leicester nerves.

 

April 30th – CHELSEA vs. TOTTENHAM

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Chelsea might be out of the reckoning, but they still have a big part to play in deciding who wins the title. The Blues still have Man City, Tottenham and Leicester to come. Two of those fixtures make my list.

A big London derby is always intense, but this one will be the stuff of sleepless nights for Spurs fans if they come with hopes of winning the title still very much alive - especially as Chelsea start to show signs of recovery.

How Chelsea would love to put Spurs in their place and replicate the 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge last season? At the same time, what sweeter message to send of supremacy than for Spurs to roll them over in their own back yard?

 

May 15th – CHELSEA vs. LEICESTER CITY

Leicester City v Sunderland - Premier League : News Photo

Leicester's run-in looks good on paper. They have none of the top-four sides left to play and it's hard to suggest a trip to Old Trafford counts for a serious test these days. 

The one game that sticks out between here are the end of the season is Chelsea away. And it comes on the very last day.

If we predict a scenario where the defending champions are faced with the prospect of another team celebrating the title in their stadium, you'd have to imagine Chelsea will be strongly motivated to stop them.

Claudio Ranieri could be back at the Bridge with a glorious chance to wrap up his first ever top-flight title. But in his way could be a team that has found its way back to being the winning machine they were 12 months before.

Crunch. Match.

 

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