The Race for the Premier League Title

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As it always does, the Premier League title race has been narrowed down to just a few teams. This season, it’s Chelsea and Manchester City who are only the realistic teams in with a shout of lifting the trophy come May. The Blues are currently first with 60 points, with the current champions in second on 55. This is seven points ahead of the nearest chasers Arsenal, so it’s fair to say it will either be John Terry or Vincent Kompany holding the crown aloft in 2014-15.

The two sides have already met twice this season, with both games ending in 1-1 draws. So how much is there between the two sides? Who will be victorious after 38 games? I look at how they match up in several factors, with stats correct up until the 27th of February 2014.

Goalkeepers

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Funnily enough, no goalkeeper from either Chelsea or Manchester City is in the top four for clean sheets this season (Fraser Forster has the most with 12 if you were wondering) .

Jose Mourinho has been switching between Thibaut Courtois (22 appearances, 7 clean sheets) and Petr Cech (5 appearances, 5 clean sheets) throughout the season, so it would be obvious to assume that the Blues are better in the goalkeeping department.

But Joe Hart has more clean sheets than the pair of them with eight, but he has played 24 games.

Overall, the Blues have conceded 22 goals, whilst City have had 25 go past them (although four of those were when Willy Caballero was in goal).

  • Chelsea = 9/10
  • Manchester City = 8/10

Defenders

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Obviously the same statistics as above apply, so from the off we know Chelsea’s defenders have conceded less goals and kept more clean sheets.

Branislav Ivanovic is the Blues defender who has made the most appearances, featuring in all 26 games for the club this season. As for City, Pablo Zabaleta and Gael Clichy share the honour of most picked defender.

Jose Mourinho has only used six different defenders this season, but Manuel Pellegrini has picked eight different players at the back, showing he has more players to pick from – more of that later on.

As for goals from defence, eight Chelsea goals have come from the back, although half of those are credited to the free scoring Ivanovic. Defenders at the Etihad Stadium have only hit the back of the net on three occasions so far this season. However that’s fine as long as your forwards are doing their job.

  • Chelsea = 8/10
  • Manchester City = 7/10

Midfielders

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This is the position in which both teams excel. When Sergio Aguero was injured earlier in the season, Manchester City even fielded a team a few times that contained no strikers, with players from the middle of the park providing the fire-power.

Yaya Toure, David Silva and Frank Lampard have all scored at least five times this season, whilst players such as Fernandinho, James Milner and Samir Nasri have got in on the act as well. In total, Manuel Pellegrini has started nine different midfielders in 2014-15.

This is one less than Jose Mourinho can boast, with only Jon Obi Mikel, Juan Cuadrado and the now departed Mohamed Salah not getting on the scoresheet from the middle of the park.

Eden Hazard has the most with nine, with Oscar on eight. For Cesc Fabregas, it’s all about the assists, as he has 15, nearly double that of second placed Leighton Baines.

  • Chelsea = 9/10
  • Manchester City = 9/10

Strikers

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These two clubs boast the top two scorers in the Premier League: Diego Costa and Sergio Aguero, who both have hit the back of the net 17 times this season.

Their battle for the golden boot will be as close as the battle for the title, although Harry Kane may join in as well.

Other than those two, Chelsea have called upon either Didier Drogba or Loic Remy when Costa has been injured or suspended, and they have six goals between them.

Manuel Pellegrini has slightly more choice when it comes to who to play alongside or instead of Aguero, with Edin Dzeko, Stevan Jovetic or the newly signed Wilfried Bony to pick from. Between them, they have eight goals in the league this season, but this excludes Bony’s nine goals for Swansea.

As a team effort, both Chelsea and Manchester City have scored 56 goals this season.

  • Chelsea = 8/10
  • Manchester City = 9/10

Experience

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Both of these clubs are relatively new to fighting for the title thanks to large cash injections in the last few years.

Chelsea have been involved in one way or another since winning the title in 2005, finishing in the top two on five occasions in the subsequent nine years (winning it two more times). They have not finished above third since 2010-11 though.

When the Blues were winning the league 10 years ago, Manchester City were in 15th. It was only in 2010-11 that they finished in the top three for the first time. Since then though, they have won two Premier League titles and come second in between, meaning they have been the best team in the last few seasons.

  • Chelsea = 8/10
  • Manchester City = 6/10

Fixture List

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With 12 games to go, both sides will be aiming to win every single game. But is this realistic?

Out of the current Premier League top seven, Chelsea have to play Southampton (home), Manchester United (home), Arsenal (away) and Liverpool (home). Bearing in mind that they have only dropped four league points at Stamford Bridge this season.

For Manchester City, the tough games in their remaining fixtures are Liverpool (away), Manchester United (away), Tottenham (away) and Southampton (home). The game against the Saints is on the last day of the season, a considerably harder encounter than Chelsea’s home match against Sunderland on May 24th.

  • Chelsea = 7/10
  • Manchester City = 6/10

Other Commitments

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We saw last season that being involved in no other competitions helped Liverpool considerably in the title race, and this could be Manchester City’s advantage this time around.

Both teams were knocked out of the FA Cup by lower league opposition, whilst Chelsea face Tottenham in the Capital One Cup final on Sunday.

This means that they will need to catch up on their league game with Leicester in midweek, just after they have visited Arsenal at the end of April. This is a midweek that Manuel Pellegrini’s side will have off.

Both teams are still in the Champions League, but Chelsea have more chance of going through than City. The Blues drew 1-1 at PSG in their away first leg, putting them in a good position to win the tie at Stamford Bridge.

Aguero and co have a tough job on their hands though after losing 2-1 at the Etihad against Barcelona in their first leg, meaning they must score at least twice in Spain.

If Chelsea go through and City don’t, that’s at least two extra games for Jose Mourinho’s side.

  • Chelsea = 7/10
  • Manchester City = 9/10

Managers

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They came head to head when both were managing in Spain, so Jose Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini know each other well.

The Chilean obviously came out on top last season, winning his fourth league title in his managerial career. He also picked up the Premier League Manager of the Month for December this season.

Despite his team being top of the table, Jose Mourinho has not actually won the award this season, or last season for that matter. As a manager, the 52 year old (10 years younger than Pellegrini) has won seven league titles, in more prestigious countries than his City counterpart.

But after not winning any silverware last season, Mourinho is more keen than ever to get his hands on the Premier League trophy.

  • Chelsea = 9/10
  • Manchester City = 7/10

Squad Depth

I briefly touched on this earlier by commenting on the number of players used in each position, but now it’s time to look at the squad as a whole.

Getting straight into it, Chelsea have used 22 different players this season (two no longer at the club).

Including players who have departed, Manuel Pellegrini has used 23 individual players this season, so in that respect it’s very close.

But looking at different aspects of each squad, you would query who could play at right-back for Chelsea if Ivanovic got injured, or City’s lack of wingers. Overall, it’s actually very even and in reality, both teams have enough quality to field two strong teams.

  • Chelsea = 8/10
  • Manchester City = 8/10

A combined Chelsea and Manchester City XI

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Conclusion

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After tallying up all the scores, Chelsea finish with 73/90 and Manchester City with 69/90. It’s a close result as expected, and I do predict that it will be the Blues who will be lifting the Premier League trophy in May. Expect many twists and turns on the way though!

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