THE rest of the Premier League has a huge mountain to climb if it is going to stop Chelsea from winning the title in 2017.
Almost two thirds of the way through the season, The Pensioners have been the dominant force and are the deserved title favourites, extending their lead to nine points over Tottenham and Arsenal, who are tied in second spot.
That is three games ahead already. It would take something drastically bad for them to lose this, even with 15 games to go.
Of course, a lot can happen when it comes to the Premier League, but Chelsea – at a very short $1.25 with Ladbrokes.com.au – looks the goods at this juncture.
The punters have been piling into the Pensioners and for good reason.
They won 13 games in a row before that streak was snapped by Tottenham Hotspur and have since won two and drawn one to continue their dominance over the competition.
On Wednesday morning, they fought out a 1-1 draw with challenger Liverpool to keep the same 10 point buffer over them.
Defender David Luiz fired Chelsea in front with a clever free kick midway through the first half, but that was cancelled out in the second half by in form striker Georginio Wijnadum, who says his charges must capture a similar fighting spirit if they want to have any hope of pulling off a miracle and toppling Chelsea at the top of the league.
“The last time we performed like this was against Manchester City: We played with aggression and passion and that is a good thing to go forward but we must ensure we do it in every game,” the Netherlands international said.
“That’s the most important thing.
“If you do it one game and then not the next it will cost you points.
“We saw in January that if you are not sharp, if you don’t play how we used to play, it will cost us points.
“It was a good thing we did it against Chelsea but we’ve already done it against the big teams and we must now make sure we do it against the small teams.”
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said his side would focus on what it had to do to win the title and not worry about what was going on below it.
“The best thing is to see ourselves, not the others,” Conte said after the Liverpool game.
“We stay top of the table and that is a great achievement but it is important to focus on ourselves.
“There are 15 games remaining and 45 points.
“It’s important to draw against a really good team (Liverpool) and now we must focus on playing Arsenal.”
At $15, Liverpool has been given little hope, but none of the other teams are really being considered by the bookies, with only Manchester City joining Chelsea in single figures, after a crushing 4-0 win this morning over West Ham.
City absolutely slaughtered the Hammers on their home deck
Kevin De Bruyne started the rot i the 17th minute, talented midfield teammate David Silva added to it and then Gabriel Jesus fired in his first goal in the Premier League to cap a brilliant first half that gave City a 3-0 lead.
A YaYa Toure penalty finished it off after the break in a dominant performance that Chelsea would have at least had one eye on.
City are all the way down in fifth, but there is only one point separating them from Arsenal in second.
Curiously, while the win drew them level with Liverpool on 46 points, they are favoured over the Kop (fourth), Arsenal (third) and Tottenham Hotspur (second). Go figure.
The Gooners’ ($17) loss to bottom half Watford could be a fatal blow. They had the chance to make up a couple of points on Chelsea, but instead allowed the Pensioners to extend their league by a point after a 2-1 defeat.
The Gunners had a pair of shocking lapses early in the game, conceding twice in three minutes to give Watford the upper hand inside 13 minutes.
And while they controlled all the play after the break – as they so often do – the Arsenal could only peg one of the two goals back, Alex Iwobi slotting in a chipped cross from superstar Alexis Sanchez, as Lucas Perez hit the woodwork lat in the half.
Watford held on and now the Gunners have themselves to blame for the position they are in – which is still pretty good in third, although it won’t appease their fans, who demand better but rarely receive it.
They were not alone, though with Tottenham ($12), too wetting the bed, only able to take a point from its visit to bottom feeder Sunderland.
In all sorts of relegation trouble Sunderland somehow managed to hold Spurs to a 0-0 draw, the point still allowing them to climb to second, thanks to Arsenal’s lacklustre effort.
It was a toothless effort from the Spurs against a side that is rooted to the bottom of the table and really produced more questions than answers about their title designs.
If you’re feeling really confident, Manchester United is way out at $34, but they too were held to a nil all draw by Hull City, while Everton is out at $1001.
Reigning Premier League champions Leicester City are the only other team that can mathematically finish on top of the ladder, but their fall from grace is almost complete, with another loss making it all but impossible.
2017 English Premier League winner market
Manchester City ($9)
Manchester United ($34)
Odds provided by Ladbrokes.com.au
To finish in the top four of the English Premier League in 2017
Man City ($1.3)
Man Utd ($2.5)
Odds provided by Ladbrokes.com.au
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