Home England Why the EPL race isn’t over yet

Why the EPL race isn’t over yet

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Despite the alarming nature of how the U.K. soccer media declares Manchester United champion one week, then declares the race wide open the next, then United the champion again, there is still a chance that we could see a very unique scenario play out in the final weeks of the English Premier League campaign.

With five games left, Arsenal and Chelsea are each six points behind United. In a normal season, where the big clubs don’t leave that many points on the table, you would agree that the six points would be an unassailable mountain to climb.

Chelsea would rue its winter swoon, the worst period the club has suffered since Roman Abramovich came to power; and Arsenal would rue its penchant for blowing leads and turning what should have been sure wins into draws or losses; twice, the Gunners tossed two-goal leads away against Spurs; they drew with Sunderland and Liverpool because of injury-time goals surrendered; and, of course, there was the famous second-half throwaway of a four-goal cushion at Newcastle.

But United has proven to be anything but invincible this season. It also has black marks on its resume. And, what’s interesting is that it has Arsenal and Chelsea still left on the schedule.

Assuming that there aren’t any more points to be thrown away, and both Arsenal and Chelsea win out — winning their games over United — the season would end in a…

Three-way tie.

Highly improbable, but the scenario is there.

Manchester United still has work to do at Old Trafford

Yes, United exposed Chelsea in the Champions League. But, in domestic competition, Chelsea has had United’s number.

Arsenal has struggled against United in recent seasons, once Sir Alex Ferguson realized that crowding the midfield would frustrate the Gunners to the point where they’d sabotage themselves, which they’ve obliged time and time again. But the road game at the Emirate is smack-dab in the middle of the two Champions League semifinal legs with Schalke. So, Ferguson may need to rotate his lineup. He’ll hope to have enough of a cushion after the first leg so he can start his top choice lineup at Arsenal, then be able to nurse the club through the second leg. (And then Chelsea four days later).

Those Arsenal and Chelsea dates come at a critical time in United’s schedule, so fatigue could be a factor.

 

Could be. There are still other games to play, many of them against desperate teams fighting the relegation battle — late in the season, those become dangerous fixtures.

But, imagine if the EPL did come down to goal difference. Right now, United is at +38, Chelsea at +34, Arsenal at +32. But, remember that even a one-goal win against a rival gives the winning side a +2 bump in goal difference (they lose one, you gain one). So, Arsenal and Chelsea wins would close that gap substantially.

But the London clubs need to win those matches. Even with draws in one of those two, you can’t see United throwing enough points away in the other three remaining games to surrender the lead.

REMAINING SCHEDULES

Manchester United

Everton (H)

Arsenal (A)

Chelsea (H)

Blackburn (A)

Blackpool (H)

Arsenal

Bolton (A)

Manchester United (H)

Stoke City (A)

Aston Villa (H)

Fulham (A)

Chelsea

West Ham (H)

Tottenham (H)

Manchester United (A)

Newcastle (H)

Everton (A)

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