It’s usually from March onwards where the title race gets all the more interesting – and this season the race to be crowned Champions seems to be between four teams, and there are some tasty looking fixtures this month.
The pressure is on – but it isn’t just the fixtures that are a big factor – as many competitions are heading for the business end of the season and could have a substantial effect on the sides involved.
Manchester City start the month missing out on two league fixtures because of their involvement in the Capital One Cup final against Sunderland to start the month, and the quarter-finals of the FA Cup against Wigan Athletic.
It’s a busy end to the month for Manchester City when they face a trip to Hull City after they attempt to overhaul their first leg deficit in the Champions League against Barcelona at the Nou Camp.
They have to fit in trips to Manchester United and Arsenal to conclude the month after they have faced bottom club Fulham at the Etihad Stadium.
Top of the table Chelsea will have the opportunity to put the pressure on Manchester City for when they return to Premier League action with London derbies away to Fulham and at home to Tottenham. Though City will have three games in hand, the pressure will be on them to win all three if Chelsea started the month by winning their first two games.
The interesting title clash for that month for the current league leaders is when they welcome Arsenal to Stamford Bridge on the 22nd March – they also have tricky looking away fixtures to Aston Villa and Crystal Palace, though the former of the two sides has a dismal home record so far this season. There is also the opportunity to qualify for the quarter finals of the Champions League when they come up against Galatasaray.
Arsenal face arguably the toughest set of fixtures out of the lot – though they have to contend with an FA Cup game against Everton, following that they have to visit White Hart Lane and Stamford Bridge before hosting Manchester City in what is sure to be a crunch match. Before their North London derby with Spurs, they also have the difficult task of trying to turn around a 2-0 deficit when they face Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena.
And for the outsiders of the four, Liverpool face three away trips to start March. A trip to Southampton where they were undone last season, and undone by them at Anfield as well, with a trip to Old Trafford two weeks later. They then face struggling Cardiff City soon after that before home comforts treat them at the end of the month with their game against Sunderland rearranged before they host Tottenham Hotspur. The thing they perhaps have in their favour is that their only competition for the remainder of the season in the Premier League.
It’s the kind of month where it can all go well for a couple of teams and yet unravel. Arsenal’s difficult run of fixtures could end up being too much to handle, Liverpool being away from Anfield for the best part of a month could be tricky, especially with sides trying to get at their vulnerable defence.
Manchester City and Chelsea also have some very difficult fixtures – though Chelsea have the opportunity to put the pressure on the rest by winning their first two games of the month, and City still fighting on all fronts have the difficult task of starting to manage the fixture congestion that is coming their way.
There is also the point that all four sides are going to have players away for a midweek international break early on in the month. This is a month that threatens to throw a spanner in the works with the top sides starting to meet each other during the run in, and the team that comes out on top with the title in their hands is going to be incredibly hard to stop.
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