The battle for the league title is at its climax stage with 14 games to go. Chelsea’s win over Arsenal at the weekend did well to enforce the belief that we are title favourites. With winnable games over the next few weeks, the inevitable might just happen sooner than expected. It’s certainly Chelsea’s title to lose with our nine points advantage, and we are bookmakers’ favourites to win it.
History can even be a witness to the collapse of title charges by teams who were tagged favourites to win the crown only to drop points and lose out completely.
Here are five famous title charge collapses that could spur us on to the title:
THE NEWCASTE SURRENDER:
In January 1996, Newcastle led Manchester United by a stunning 12 points and everything pointed towards their first Premier League title. How wrong we were that after three months their lead had been whittled down to 1 point after the Red devils triumphed in the meeting between the two sides. With the race getting ever tighter, the pressure told on Kevin Keegan, his famous rant of “I would just love it if we beat them” only spurred United on, who won the title by 4 points.
THE FALL OF MANCHESTER UNITED
In Arsene Wenger’s first full season in charge of Arsenal in 1997/98 season, they trailed Manchester United by 11 points at the beginning of March. United look to be sailing only to fall by the way side. The Gunners gained some grounds on the league leaders, winning their 3 games in hand and beating United in mid-March. Arsenal won 10 games on the trot, including five 1-0 wins and won the title by 1 point. They also completed the double by winning the FA cup.
ARSENAL GUNNED DOWN:
In March of 2002/03 season, Arsenal sat top of the league, 8 points clear. They then proceeded to win only 4 of their remaining 9 games including back to back draws at Bolton and defeat to Leeds. Manchester United, however, won 9 of their last 10 matches, the draw being 2-2 to Arsenal. They won the title by 5 points. Arsenal were unceremoniously gunned down.
LIVERPOOL WALK ALONE:
In 2008, it was Rafa Benitez vs Sir Alex Ferguson. Sitting 8 points clear in January, Liverpool then saw their lead capitulate and by the time they visited Old Trafford on the 14th March, they were 7 points behind. The slide was blamed for Rafa Benitez five-minutes infamous ‘facts rant’ blaming Fergie for fixing the fixture list and benefiting from generous refereeing decisions. United won the title by 4 points with the Reds finishing in second place.
MANCHESTER UNITED SHACKLED AND SILENCED BY THEIR NOISY NEIGHBOURS:
City fans didn’t get as excited as you might expect at their comeback in 2013-14, it’s because they had pulled off the most dramatic title win in Premier League history just a couple of seasons before.
With 32 games played, Manchester United held an eight point lead over City, but self-destructed as a defeat to Wigan, a draw with Everton and a loss to City themselves, saw that lead crumble like a pack of cards.
On the final day of the season Manchester City needed a win to seal league triumph. Just to rub it in against their local rivals, they left it as late as possible to score the winner with Aguero strike silencing United’s theatre of dreams.
Chelsea have to borrow a leaf from these clubs and ensure we don’t self-destruct.