Premier League Title Race: Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City or Chelsea?

With the Big Cup out of the way for a couple of weeks, it’s back to the Premier League, looking to answer the key questions around this year’s title race:

Can Manchester United win their 19th league title despite being crap away from home?
Can Arsenal really last the whole season without breaking down?
Are City any good at all?

We discussed Manchester City in yesterday’s Champions League race article, and suffice to say that unless they are going to attain 25+ points from their remaining 11 games, they’re nowhere near hauling in Arsenal (7 points ahead) or Manchester United (8 points ahead + 1 game in hand). Chelsea are even further adrift, but they can at least cripple United’s title challenge.

So let’s look at both Arsenal and Manchester United, and also some predictions for this weekend’s Premier League games:


Current league position: 2nd
Games played: 27
Points: 56

Arsenal’s achievements this season – Carling Cup final, beating Barcelona in the first leg of the Champions League round, second in the Premier League – are all the more impressive when you consider that they’ve negotiated most of their tough Premier League games already.

Arsenal’s remaining league fixtures:

Saturday, 5 March 2011
Arsenal v Sunderland, 15:00

Saturday, 19 March 2011
West Brom v Arsenal, 15:00

Saturday, 2 April 2011
Arsenal v Blackburn, 15:00

Saturday, 9 April 2011
Blackpool v Arsenal, 15:00

Saturday, 16 April 2011
Arsenal v Liverpool, 15:00

Saturday, 23 April 2011
Bolton v Arsenal, 15:00

Saturday, 30 April 2011
Arsenal v Man Utd, 15:00

Saturday, 7 May 2011
Stoke v Arsenal, 15:00

Saturday, 14 May 2011
Arsenal v Aston Villa, 15:00

Sunday, 22 May 2011
Fulham v Arsenal, 16:00

On paper you would expect Arsenal to be winning all of these games and to get at least a point out of the Liverpool and Manchester United games. Having said that, Arsenal are also likely to be playing more games this season than their rivals, reaching the Carling Cup final, facing a second replay in the FA Cup, and with a decent shout of reaching the Champions League quarter-finals as well. Fatigue, along with Liverpool and Manchester United (fighting for Europe and the Premier League title respectively), will be Arsenal’s biggest challenges to their first league title since 2004.

Arsenal will be looking for a minimum of 8 wins from their remaining 11 games, and if they can avoid defeat in the remaining three, they should go up to 83 points.

Manchester United

Current league position: 1st
Games played: 26
Points: 57

Manchester United have been bloody-minded and consistent enough to stay top of the league for the last few months, but they face a series of tough away games in their last 12 matches and their away record this season has been poor by their high standards. Still, top of the table and a game in hand means that all they need to do is to stay consistent, and most crucially, win the big away games.

Manchester United’s remaining league fixtures:

Saturday, 26 February 2011
Wigan v Man Utd, 15:00

Tuesday, 1 March 2011
Chelsea v Man Utd, 19:45

Sunday, 6 March 2011
Liverpool v Man Utd, 13:30

Saturday, 19 March 2011
Man Utd v Bolton, 15:00

Saturday, 2 April 2011
West Ham v Man Utd, 15:00

Saturday, 9 April 2011
Man Utd v Fulham, 15:00

Saturday, 16 April 2011
Newcastle v Man Utd, 15:00

Saturday, 23 April 2011
Man Utd v Everton, 15:00

Saturday, 30 April 2011
Arsenal v Man Utd, 15:00

Saturday, 7 May 2011
Man Utd v Chelsea, 15:00

Saturday, 14 May 2011
Blackburn v Man Utd, 15:00

Sunday, 22 May 2011
Man Utd v Blackpool, 16:00

United play Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal away and the title could easily be decided after the outcome of those three games. The Chelsea game is the same one postponed from December (which would have been an ideal time to play Chelsea, in hindsight), and then there’s also the home game against Chelsea in May.

To stand any chance of winning the league title, United need to win all the other 8 games, and crucially, beat Chelsea and Arsenal away while avoiding defeat at Anfield. Their one game in hand gives them a one game cushion, but on current form 25 points from 12 games would be a good total. Problem is, it only gets them 82 points.

What about Chelsea and Manchester City?

Manchester City would need to secure 31 points from their remaining 11 games to get to 80 points – and even that might not be enough if Arsenal and Manchester reach their respective 80 point totals. A massive 11 wins from 11 games might just do the trick, provided both Arsenal and United slip-up. Fact is, all teams are going to drop points in the run-in, so Manchester City’s chances for the title look very unlikely.

Chelsea’s prospects are just as bleak – they need 35 points from their remaining 12 games to reach 80 – and while they might be able to reel United in by winning both their games against them, they’re unlikely to go unbeaten, and therefore the best they can hope for is a complete cockup by Arsenal.

Premier League Champions

Arsenal, with a much easier run-in, should be able to pip Manchester United to the finishing line if they can stay fit and critically, beat United at the Emirates. United can’t be concerned with that though – they have their game in hand to be played out on Tuesday (after they play Wigan away on Saturday, which comes after they’ve played Marseille away on Wednesday). A third away game in 6 days would be tough on any side, but considering that the opponents are Chelsea, it’ll be a tough, tough battle for the Red Devils.

Premier League Predictions with Scoreboard

Scoreboard is an interactive, Facebook-based Premier League predictions show that launches next Friday (4th March). In a new twist to your typical prediction games, Scoreboard mixes the typical football prediction game model with a live TV show which will be available to watch – both in full and in match-by-match preview clips – at on Facebook.

Scoreboard will be hosted by Douglas Anderson (of BBC Radio 5 Live fame) along with co-hosts Scott Minto and Jason Cundy. Fans from all over the world can participate directly in the show via Facebook, by pitting their wits against the pundits and playing the accompanying online Scoreboard game.

Scoreboard pundits Scott Minto and Jason Cundy will be familiar to football fans: Scott played 350+ league games in a career that included West Ham, Chelsea and Benfica before becoming a regular face on Sky Sports News – while Jason spent over 10 years in the English game playing for the likes of Spurs, Chelsea and Ipswich before retiring in 2000 to become a presenter on talkSPORT.

Have a look at our Scoreboard Review, and then try your hand at predicting this weekend’s Premier League results.

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  1. sholan 25 February, 2011
  2. Cameron 25 February, 2011
  3. (Not So) Super Sub 26 February, 2011
  4. Sid 27 February, 2011
  5. Jon 1 March, 2011
  6. Juan 2 March, 2011