Arsenal against Chelsea for the Premier League title?

Two London rivals gather momentum as rivals continue to falter.

While it may be premature to declare the fight for the Premier League title a two-horse race, there is little doubt that Arsenal and Chelsea are emerging as two of the strongest contenders.

A glance at the weekend’s top-flight results epitomises the season so far.

Manchester City’s rampant home form continued with a 3-0 defeat of Swansea City. Manuel Pellegrini’s side have now won six straight games at the Etihad Stadium. But away from home they continue to falter, having picked up only four points from a possible 18.

Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United fought out a 2-2 draw which highlighted the weaknesses of both sides: United still are not winning the type of games they did under Sir Alex Ferguson, while Spurs are a long way from gelling after significant summer changes by Andre Villas-Boas. Both sides face a fight for the top four, let along the Premier League title.

Meanwhile, Liverpool’s title credentials faced a serious question against a dogged and determined HullCity at the KC Stadium. Without the injured Daniel Sturridge, the SAS were firing blanks as the Reds fell to a defeat which suggest that talk of the title may be fanciful at this stage.

That left Arsenal and Chelsea, two sides who picked up mightily impressive results. The Gunners made light work of a tricky-looking visit to Cardiff City, thanks mainly to Aaron Ramsey, while Chelsea responded well to beat Southampton 3-1 after going a goal down inside 15 seconds.

So what did this weekend tell us about the race for the title? It told us that four of the expected top six – Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Spurs – still have significant issues to overcome if they are to finish top of the pile.

It taught us that Arsenal must finally be taken seriously, given that their 3-0 win in Wales was their fifth victory in six games, and achieved with a now familiar air of nonchalance.

And it taught us that Chelsea, after a slow start, are coming up fast on the outside, emerging as, if not the strongest side, then the team with the fewest weaknesses. Under Jose Mourinho, Stamford Bridge is again becoming a fortress which few visiting teams will breach.

It would be foolish to write off either of the Manchester clubs at this stage, but as Christmas approaches it is the two London rivals who are emerging as the front-runners.

image: © bensutherland

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