This year’s Premier league title race is one of the most enthralling since the inception of the Premier league in 1992. Its been played out like a soap opera at times, with twisting a storyline. However this has now been whittled down to four distinct challengers. This article will explore the strengths and weaknesses and characteristics of these clubs and their challenge for the elusive Premier League title.
First up, the shock of the season, Leicester City, were as far as 5000/ 1 with the bookmakers at the start of the season.
Leicester’s fairy tale rise from propping up the Premier league at Christmas 2014, to being at its summit in March 2016, has drawn plaudits from pundits and football fans alike. Jamie Vardy and Riyadh Mahrez heroic displays drawing some special mentions from spectators. Leicester have had many players stepping up to the occasion such as Mark Albrighton, who was released from Premier league basement boys, Aston Villa, and he has had a truly inspired season earning my personal plaudits. I do believe he deserves an England call up prior to Euro 2016 to test him on an international level.
Could Leicester really compete with the Premier league established order and be top of the table come May?
I do feel that they should be considered favourites, if not that at least second favourites now, to bring home the Premier league title to the King power. I feel with their current form and the heroics of Vardy and Marhez, as well as the technical and tactical organisation of manager Claudio Ranieri, it is highly probable that we will see the first Premier league title in Leicester at the end of May. However they’re run into the title race is far from easy, with away trips to Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge, as well as a difficult home encounter with Everton. Potentially this means their final three games of the season may well prove to be a real trip hazard for Leicester’s title ambitions.
Verdict: Leicester City are my second favourites to clinch the title in May.
Although not as much of a surprise as Leicester City, Tottenham are another side punching above their weight. Most people at the start of the season would not have considered Tottenham as title contenders given that they are inexperienced when it comes to title run-ins, as well as having young squad, many thought Spurs would struggle mentally towards the end of the campaign. However, Pochettino’s men have played with a maturity and a lack of fear, which are qualities that true champions are considered to have.
After a slow start Harry Kane has recaptured the scintillating form which saw him light up the Premier league last season, While the emergence of Dele Alli has filled Spurs fans with a renewed belief that maybe they have the quality to get over the line in this title race.
Although being held to a draw at home by their north London rivals, who were reduced to 10 men at the weekend, may have seriously damaged morale in the dressing room. This is an area that Pochettino may need to address if they are to capture the Premier league title away from Leicester.
The final month of Tottenham’s title quest, like Leicester, sees them travel to the home of the current champions Chelsea, they also come up against relegation threatened Newcastle United on the final day which may be a game with extreme consequences for both sides. Also in the mix is the added complication of Europa league football on a Thursday night, which could clog up their fixture list if they are to progress past Borussia Dortmund.
Verdict: My verdict as a journalist, is to name Tottenham as the current favourites for the Premier league title.
Arsenal fans will be hoping to ditch their perennial fourth-place finish for a title win this season. The consensus is the unpredictability of this seasons title race may be Arsenal’s best chance to end their 12 year title drought. However they find themselves currently eight points behind, with just nine games to play Arsenal, so they really cannot afford any more slip ups. Their title challenge could well be decided when they London club face Manchester City in what looks to be a tasty affair, on the penultimate day of the season.
Unlike the likes of Tottenham and Leicester City, Arsene Wenger has been involved in many title races down the years. Despite the inexperience that certain members of Arsene’s squad has when it comes to challenging for the tittle, he can call on the experience of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. Both have had previous experience of title run-ins from their time in Spain.
Arsenal’s defensive weaknesses in my opinion could also lead to their demise from this seasons title challenge.
Verdict: I feel they are the third favourites for the title this season. This sadly means that Arsenal fans will have to wait at least one more season for a shot of Premier league glory.
Many people’s favourite for the Premier league title from the outset were Manchester city. Their inconsistent form an inability to string a collective run of victories together has led some writing them off with only a handful of games left. They are currently languishing in fourth position, 10 points of highflying Leicester. Personally they must now be considered as a dark horse in this title race, however they do have one game in hand due to their capital one cup commitments. This gives them the opportunity to cut the gap to 7 points. Another thing to consider is their immense squad depth, therefore enabling them to call on talent such as Sergio Aguero, David Silva, and Yaya Toure. I feel it would be wrong of any footballing entities to discount Manchester city from this title race just yet, as despite facing challenging run ins with both title rivals Arsenal and Chelsea as well as the Manchester derby, I do feel momentum could drive City forward and will be the key if they do win this years title.
Of the four title contenders, I believe that only Manchester City and Tottenham have a realistic chance of advancing in Europe which is another factor in against Manchester city’s continued pursuit of the Premier league title. This may mean that they will have to choose to focus their efforts elsewhere in order to capture European honours.
Verdict: I feel that Manchester city are the dark horse in this seasons title race, especially being 10 points behind with 10 games to go. They are however the only team with recent experience of winning the Premier league and this may well be a decisive factor.