Premier League games in February have proved that Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspurs are genuine title contenders. Arsenal fans would have realized that they will only witness glimpses of title conquering spirit from their squad season after the win against Leicester City. Manchester City’s performance would have left Pep Guardiola with intense thought process on how to turn around Citizens’ fortune. Manchester City and Manchester United are now going to fight it out for the Champions League qualification. Liverpool had lost out on FA Cup and League Cup and they would have reprioritized what they want from this season now. Don’t forget Chelsea who have just crept their way into the top of the table. They might even run in for Europa League qualification since they haven’t lost a Premier League game since Mourinho left. Let’s look at the March fixtures of the top Premier League sides.
Leicester City – March to lead the Premier League table
The foxes have to face West Brom, Watford, Newcastle United and Crystal Palace in March. They all from the bottom half of the table. This is a brilliant chance to further the distance with Tottenham. They failed to do that during their game against West Brom, but can’t afford to do that in more games. In February, they won against Liverpool and Manchester City and just lost to Arsenal after having a man sent off. Their brilliant performance in February should be replicated.
Tottenham Hotspur – North London derby is the stage to showcase Spurs’ title dream to the world
Spurs had a fantastic month with 5 wins in February including the win against Manchester City to move to second spot from fourth spot. They missed their chance to lead the table when they lost against West Ham. They have to now play against Arsenal, Aston Villa and Bournemouth. Arsenal being the only tough game is also a perfect opportunity to expand the lead with Gunners and show the football world that they are going to have a charge at the title. They had also progressed to Round of 16 in Europa League. They now face two legs against Dortmund who are currently placed second in German Bundesliga. March is not going to be an easy month for Spurs, but they need to emerge victorious amidst the congested fixtures to prove their worth as title candidates.
Arsenal – Gunners pace again towards the title only to have a brief glimpse at a distance
February fixtures have been quite bad for Arsenal since they won only 2 in 6 games. Despite that, they were about to get closer to Leicester City when they outclassed 10-man Foxes. But then, they lost to Swansea at home and the gap widened. They now have to face Tottenham at White Hart Lane who wants the title as much as Arsenal does, Hull City in a repeat fixture for FA Cup and Barcelona in a game which is almost over already given the form of the Catalans. It’s an uphill task for Arsene Wenger to prove to the fans that he is indeed the right man to lead Arsenal to more than just aspiring for the title.
Manchester City – League Cup might be the only trophy for City this season
Manchester City has lost against Leicester City and Tottenham in Premier League and Chelsea in FA Cup in February. Had they won against the Foxes and the Spurs, they would have led the table by now. City couldn’t do much there and also lost to Chelsea in FA Cup. Their League Cup victory is the consolation prize for the outgoing manager Manuel Pellegrini. Now that they are chased by their cross town rivals closely, it will exciting to see who qualifies for the Champions League. They had already lost against Liverpool. Their next 2 games against Aston Villa and Norwich is definitely easy ones but they are to face Manchester United towards the end of the month. That will be an exciting tie considering the places these teams are in the table. They now have an upperhand to make it to their first quarterfinals appearance in Champions League. Focus on Champions League might begin their first step for European glory right now.
Manchester United – Bumpy ride after a 4 game winning streak
Red Devils are currently enjoying a winning streak which will be put to test against Liverpool in 2 legs of Europa League round of 16, West Ham and Manchester City. Louis van Gaal has already been reeling under pressure. Such tough fixtures doesn’t do him good either. United’s squad will be tested tough and should they emerge victorious they have a good opportunity to kick their cross town rivals out of Champions League spot.
Liverpool – Europa League could be their only hope in this season now
Reds have progressed in Europa League but lost out on both FA Cup and League Cup. Losing out on FA Cup have reduced their fixture load by one game in March. They have to fight out against Manchester United to progress in Europa League which would be their only realistic target by now. Their Champions League qualification is very doubtful because of heavy fight for it already. Focus on Europa League could provide them the expected yield.
Chelsea – climbing up the league table slowly
Chelsea have slowly climbed up the Premier League table as they are now placed at 10th place. They have a tough task to progress in Champions League as they face formidable Paris St. Germain. However, we have witnessed before that this is not an unachievable task for the blues. In Premier League, they are not facing any top 5 side in March. Their toughest games are home games against West Ham and Stoke City. Having their toughest games of the month at home is a good thing for the Pensioners. Mourinho’s departure has definitely did good to the squad in this short term, but on a long term we’ll know in the years that follow.