A Third Of The Season To Go: Who’s The True Favourite?
This weekend’s 25th round of matches will mark the transition into the final third of the Premier League campaign. In the eyes of most supporters and analysts alike, there are essentially three clubs vying for the title: preseason favourites Manchester City, Chelsea, and, in a bit of a surprise to some who forecasted a grim season, Arsenal. Liverpool is still in the equation to an extent, and Everton and Tottenham Hotspur have put in very respectable efforts, but the three at the top are the true contenders, barring a miraculous turn of events.
But which club is the true favourite, if there is one? Heading into the final third, here are a few thoughts on key factors relating to this crucial debate.
The Official Odds
Perhaps the most accurate place to look as far as determining a favourite from here on out would be the BetFair sports betting platform, where odds are updated constantly based on the latest results and events. This site, like others of its ilk, has had the “Big Three” out in front all year. Currently, Man City is listed as the overall favourite, with even odds to capture the league title. Chelsea and Arsenal are just behind at 2/1 and 4/1 odds, respectively.
The Current Standings
No need to dwell here, but one peek at the league tables will show you that Arsenal maintains the slimmest of advantages, with 55 points to 53 for both Man City and Chelsea. Arsenal has had a slim lead for the majority of the season thus far.
The Fixtures To Come
A third of the season amounts to a lot of matches remaining, really, and there will certainly be some surprising results. But here’s how the three contenders stack up in terms of difficult challenges remaining (here we’ll define that as any match against a top-five team) according to the fixtures listed at Fox Sports.
- Manchester City have only two matches remaining against top-five teams, both away from home: against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium, and against Liverpool at Anfield.
- Chelsea has three such matches: against Everton and Arsenal at home at Stamford Bridge, and against Liverpool at Anfield.
- Arsenal has four such matches: away against Chelsea, Liverpool, and Everton, and at Emirates Stadium against Man City.
The Current Trends
Just as Man City was beginning to look like a rather unstoppable goal scoring machine, Chelsea stopped them in their tracks on their own field this past week. Jose Mourinho is claiming his Chelsea team are not frontrunners, but at this point they have a claim as the hottest team in the league, the January 29 draw with West Ham notwithstanding. Meanwhile, Arsenal have an argument as the steadiest team thus far, but have largely been beating up on lesser opponents since December, when they drew with Chelsea at home and lost badly to Man City.
So… who does all this leave as the true favourite? Really, even with a detailed look like this it’s tough to say. And frankly, it may be foolish to count Liverpool out when they still play each of the top three at home! Adding it all up, however, Chelsea looks like the team to bet on because they have the strongest recent play and probably the easiest remaining schedule. But only time will tell, and as of now Arsenal is out in front with a strong chance to win the league!