For the last few weeks and even months, we’ve been bored senseless by various pundits proclaiming that we should “just hand the title to Chelsea now.” Today’s results may cause them to reconsider those opinions, as the Blues lost at home to Crystal Palace. At the same time, Spurs won at Burnley to trim the gap to just 7 points.
Yes, it’s still a sizeable advantage. But bigger leads than that have been overturned in the Premier League in past seasons. Just ask the Man Utd side from 2011/12, who contrived to blow an 8 point lead with 5 games remaining. And of course, in 1997/98 United were 12 points clear going into March, only to see Arsenal end up the season as champions.
It’s not only United who have lost leads though. Most famous of all is Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle side losing their 12 point lead over United in 1995/96. He’d have loved it if that hadn’t happened, but it did.
Pundits these days are all to keen to make wild declarations. It’s nonsense of course, simply an attempt to grab headlines. Nobody’s denying that Chelsea have been on a great run, but Sam Allardyce knows how to win at Stamford Bridge, and he showed it again today. Better teams than Chelsea have bottled it in the run in, and while they remain favourites with all the leading bookies, I certainly wouldn’t be betting on them at short odds. It’s way too early to be saying that the race is over just yet.
Man City will also have something to say about it. Chelsea play them next, and if City can win, the gap closes further and both Spurs and City will start to believe. From a Chelsea perspective, a couple of defeats can really knock a team’s confidence, so it really will a crucial game next up at the Bridge.