By Highbury Hero
Manchester City’s 1-0 home defeat at the hand of Chelsea could be hugely significant – and could help Arsenal to win the Premier League title.
Indeed, Chelsea could now emerge as the bigger threat to Arsene Wenger as he attempts to steer his side to glory.
Ponder this. City still have to play the following sides away from home: Manchester United (Tues, March 25th); Arsenal (Sat, March 29th), Liverpool (Sat, April 12th) and, in their last trip of the league campaign, Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday, May 3rd.
The fact that City’s incredible home record has come to an end will undoubtedly give hope to others. On paper, City’s remaining games at the Etihad Stadium should bring them a big points haul.
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But the defeat against Chelsea will at least raise some doubts. The fortress is not what it was. But can any of the visitors yet to come garner even a point?
Well, next up at home for Manuel Pellegrini’s men are the resurgent Sunderland on Wednesday, February 12th.
The Black Cats triumphed at Old Trafford last month and with the tremendous 3- 0 derby win over Newcastle freshly under their belts, Sunderland will be no easy game for City. And should City fail to win, then it may even prompt paper talk of a mini-crisis at home. Results that should have been bankers may not be so.
City’s next two home games after that are against Stoke City (Mark Hughes would dearly love to extract something from his return to an old stomping ground) while inconsistent Aston Villa have reserved some of their better performances away from home.
City were without Samir Nasri, Fernandinho and Sergio Aguero – and were below their best against Chelsea. Yes, credit to Jose Mourinho and his tactics, but maybe there are chinks in the City armour.
And despite his constant playing down of Chelsea’s title chances, we all know damn well that it is part of the mind games that the Chelsea boss so enjoys.
Chelsea are surely a bigger threat to the Gunners. Assuming they won’t drop too many points at Stamford Bridge (thanks West Ham, by the way), the Blues have an easy enough run-in on the road.
Aside from Liverpool away, they have nothing to fear on their travels. Their other games are against West Brom, Fulham, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Swansea and Cardiff City. Maybe one of the relegation threatened sides will pull off a shock result, but don’t wager too much on it.
Arsenal appear to have coped with the absence of Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshire and Aaron Ramsey in recent times. And the return of Alex Oxlade Chamberlain is almost like having a new signing – and he can score goals!
Wenger’s side can finish above City, but the question now may be whether they can also end up above Chelsea.
Arsenal have a challenging share of proverbial six-pointers – home to Man Utd, and Man City, and away to Liverpool, Chelsea, and Spurs!
Ultimately the two real crunch games for Arsenal are at home to City and away to Chelsea. Four points must be the minimum, six would edge the north half of north London nearer to a welcome title once again.