Chelsea head to the Emirates on Sunday to take on second placed Arsenal, knowing that a win would put them within three points of finally confirming the Premier League title. With a 10 point lead now between the sides, it seems to be more a question of when, not if, Chelsea will be crowned league winners.
The big question mark is, can they win it this month? Wins this weekend and then in their trip to Leicester the following Wednesday would be enough, but are they in good enough form to win at the Emirates? While they are on a 12 game unbeaten run, they’ve been far from their best in recent weeks.
The Manchester United result last week was a big win, but when you look at the stats the league leaders were barely in the game. They got their goal on the counter attack and United couldn’t do enough to get back into it, but there wasn’t that swagger or confidence that we saw in the team early on this season. Of course, this is the time of the year for teams to dig in and get result when things are against them, but how long can Chelsea keep doing that?
At home at Stamford Bridge where the pitch is a little smaller and where their record is so good, you can grind out results. It becomes harder when you go to the side second in the table, who are bang in form, playing some great stuff and desperately trying to prevent you from winning the title. There are ways to play against that, dropping deep and going on the counter, something Mourinho isn’t adverse to. The difficulty with that is having the right striker.
Sadly, Didier Drogba isn’t the right striker anymore. He used to terrorise Arsenal, but he’s lost the power and pace he once had, and he’s looking like a placeholder upfront. With Diego Costa 100% out, the fitness of Loic Remy could be what decides this game. He’s got that pace on the counter, and he was in great form before his injury. Should he make it in time to play, that would be a huge boost for Chelsea’s title push.
Arsenal had their own injury worries early in the season, but with most of their squad fit, they’ve gone on a nine game winning streak that has them into the FA Cup final and to second place in the Premier League. They’re no pushovers, and they know that they can’t afford to drop points if they want to finish the season as runners up.
It’s going to be a tight game, but Mourinho’s record in these kinds of matches should just swing it. His side are unbeaten against their top four rivals from last season and this season so far, not to mention his unbeaten record against Wenger. Having the title on the line adds extra significance, making this the kind of game that suits Mourinho down to the ground.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 1-0