Does anybody really want to finish second in this season's Premier League?

Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City are all lining up behind Chelsea, but it's hard to say their respective campaigns have represented a title challenge from each of them.

How many sides have really challenged for the Premier League title this season? Chelsea have been there from day one and now hold a commanding lead going into the home stretch - but that's about it.

Manchester City may have been level with Jose Mourinho's side at the halfway point, but their title challenged has not only wilted - but has declined at an alarming rate. If they're not careful and Liverpool bounce back from back-to-back defeats strongly, they could end up outside the top four, and not competing in the Champions League next season - which would likely put the future of Manuel Pellegrini at the Etihad Stadium beyond all doubt.

Arsenal and Manchester United have had their own periods of struggle this season for different reasons. While it may have taken the Gunners a little while to get going, they are finishing the season with significant momentum. United have been trying to rebuild in their first campaign under Louis van Gaal.

If you finish second in the Premier League, no matter how far behind the eventual champions you finish, there is an expectancy from fans, media commentators and pundits to mount some sort of challenge for the title next term.

In Arsenal's case, it will be because they've put together a good run of results, but there is still that flaw of being unable to ensure their form is strong for 38 games. For Manchester United, while the side may be aiming to get into the top four, it's natural that consolidation for them next term would represent another big step on the road to rebuilding the side - though one would reckon Louis van Gaal will relish the opportunity of aiming for the title in his second season in charge.

No-one really knows how Manchester City will look next season, or even who will be managing them. But a lot of pedigree is likely to remain within the squad even if there are changes in personnel there, so in that aspect there will be the expectation of mounting a title challenge, once again.

You can take a look at Liverpool as an example of this. Having run so close to the title this season, they had the expectation they should challenge again this term, even with the loss of their star player. That hasn't materialised for one reason or the other. The pressure on a side to challenge the next season when they're not necessarily equipped to do it, and can set a club back a little bit. The runners-up spot may offer encouragement one season, but the next term could be so different.

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