Manchester City have never been a side to run away with titles. We all remember the title was heading to United with only minutes to play against QPR in 2012. That last gasp winner from Sergio Aguero still sends chills down my spine. It is for this reason, the fact City never take a direct line of travel, that we love and are frustrated by the side, in equal measure. This is nothing new though, our title win in 1968 also went to the final game which, incidentally was away to Newcastle, currently unscheduled for this season and could potentially be one of our last games depending on Champions League progression.
1937 was a slightly different affair, with only two points awarded for a win, our last game was a tied affair away to Birmingham, having us winning the league by three points from runners up Charlton. But even in that season we were as low as seventh with only seven games to go. At that point Arsenal led with 47 points, City were on 42 points (two wins and a draw behind).
As a result I am not going to write City off for the League title just yet, although it does look like a long shot, those are the odds we seem to enjoy as a club. So if City were to pull of, what surely would be, the greatest comebacks to win a title, then how could they do it? The 4-0 win against Villa was a good start and, had Leicester not won then we would be in a much better situation, obviously. That is my point, City need to keep plugging away so when Leicester slip up, and we have to believe they will, we will be able to take advantage.
Before the next game in the League, Arsenal have to travel to Hull in the FA Cup, a replay they could have done without. So, March 12th starts with Manchester City traveling to East Anglia in the early match. A win here will see City leapfrog Arsenal into third place before their late game against West Brom. The fans are already starting to get on the Arsenal sides back, who could have one eye on that Champions League second leg against Barcelona on their minds.
Tottenham go to Villa on Sunday, which should be a Spurs win, while Leicester face a relegation threatened Newcastle. If Steve McLaren is fired this week will a new boss, or caretaker boss give the Toon a lift and beat the Foxes? I can see a tied game here with the cracks, and lack of squad rotation from Ranieri starting to show. That would see the chasing pack gain two points on Leicester, and City only eight points behind with a game in hand.
March 19th sees Arsenal travel to Everton with another manager under pressure, Roberto Martinez. Arsenal will lose this game and so Leicester City's draw later in the day against another relegation threatened side will not seem that bad.
Sunday sees the Manchester derby, and a must win for City, both for local pride and to keep the title challenge alive. After watching two sides drop points the previous day it is important for the blues to secure three points. Spurs will do likewise at Bournemouth to move within a point of Leicester. City, meanwhile, now have third as their own and only six points behind Leicester with a game in hand. April arrives with City in a much improved position.
The table heading into April could look like this:
Team PLD W D L PTS
Leicester 31 17 11 3 62
Tottenham 31 17 10 4 61
CITY 30 17 5 8 56
Arsenal 31 16 7 8 55
So as April arrives all three of the chasing pack play on Saturday before Leicester City host Southampton. Arsenal host Watford, and should get a win while City travel with a tricky game against Bournemouth, I'm going to play devils advocate and go for a tied game for City here. Later in the day Liverpool host Spurs, a game which finishes a draw.
When Leicester host Southampton on Sunday, all top four teams are on seventeen wins. I think the pressure from the other sides, as well as a run against the relegation threatened sides have stalled some of the Leicester momentum and can see a Leicester defeat. Now for those who will question me, the Foxes have only three losses on the season so far, it is likely a few more will come their way in the remaining fixtures. Before their game they lost their top spot for the first time with Tottenham's superior goal difference and so they end the weekend in second.
April 9th again sees Arsenal start the weekend traveling to a high flying West Ham. I can see Arsenal losing this but will go for a draw here. Later, City host West Brom, and hopefully three points sees City go to within two points of the top two. Leicester travel to a relegation threatened and I think they will pull out a win. Later, when Tottenham face Manchester United City will be hoping for a red victory but will have to be satisfied with the draw.
The final three games of April for Leicester are against West Ham and Swansea at home before facing United away. Again City fans will be hoping for the United win, and yet again will have to be contented with the draw.
Tottenham play West Brom at home in between fixtures away to Stoke and Chelsea. Two wins and a defeat later could be the results depending on their progression in the Europa League. Arsenal, now stuttering, do a point better in their remaining three games of April. Palace at home followed by away games against Norwich and Sunderland.
City travel away to Chelsea and Southampton either side of hosting a Mark Hughes Stoke City. Seven points from this would be good, but lets go with a win and two draws for this run. How would the table look as we go into the crunch last two games?
The Southampton game against City, along with the Leicester v United and Spurs v Chelsea game actually take place on May 1st, but I have included them with the last weekend of April fixtures.
Team PLD W D L PTS
Tottenham 36 19 12 5 69
Leicester 36 18 14 4 68
Arsenal 36 19 9 8 66
CITY 35 19 8 8 65
May 7th will be a big game in the Manchester City season. At home to Arsenal, City need to leave everything on the pitch with this one and cannot afford any slip ups. All games for the last two match days of the season take place at the same time with City hosting Arsenal kicking off the same time as Spurs hosting Southampton and Leicester home to Everton. Depending on the rescheduling of the Newcastle game, City could be flirting with the top spot at this stage of the season. Leicester will draw against Everton, Spurs to win against Southampton.
Entering the final day it is entirely possible to have this as the way the table will look:
Team PLD W D L PTS
Tottenham 37 20 12 5 72
CITY 37 21 8 8 71
Leicester 37 18 15 4 69
Arsenal 37 19 9 9 66
Leicester winning, away to a Chelsea side wanting to give their fans a decent end to a poor season will be a tough ask. Arsenal, already out of the title challenge, with possibly an FA Cup Final to look forward too, host an Aston Villa side long since relegated.
Tottenham travel to Newcastle who, hopefully for City, still need a win to secure their Premiership safety. That said, City will not have an easy time in their last game, away to Swansea.
Pellegrini has said that City need nine wins in order to have a chance of lifting the Premier League trophy. In this scenario, to get to the last game with a chance, you will notice they only have six. Yes it does rely on a Leicester crumble to some extent, although only five defeats in the season still seems a low number and I still have them managing nine points in the last nine games.
Arsenal's demise has a little less explanation needed. It's what they do in the final few months of the season. As for Tottenham, I hope they have continued success in the Europa League and travel far and wide. This will benefit City in the longer term as, if the blues progress against Dynamo then the furthest they are likely to have to travel is to Spain, Germany, Italy or France. Spurs, on the other hand, travel to Germany this week, host Dortmund next week and still have teams from Croatia, Ukraine, Turkey and the Czech Republic potentially waiting if they are successful against Dortmund.