THE COMPETITIVENESS of the Premier League means it is never over until it’s mathematically decided, but I cannot see Jose Mourinho letting it slip from here. The title is Chelsea’s; it’s now about who finishes second, third and fourth.
Chelsea’s win at Hull yesterday was massive. They’d got away with a couple of poor performances recently, but they ground out the win at the KC Stadium as they prepare for the most crucial part of the season. Their run-in isn’t too bad and, what’s more, the form of their closest rivals is a concern.
Manchester City, who currently sit second, look rudderless and uninspiring, despite beating West Brom 3-0 on Saturday. There are question marks about their desire and Yaya Toure does not look able to reproduce the performances of old.
City will still finish in the top four, along with Arsenal and Manchester United, but the order could be anything. The Gunners are firing away but could still throw in weak performances, and I think United are the team to watch.
United, who beat Liverpool yesterday, are suddenly the division’s form team, and that in itself is quite a story. They are too far back to catch Chelsea but they have momentum and will without doubt qualify for the Champions League.
It took time for manager Louis van Gaal and some new players to settle, but now that they have I expect them to go from strength to strength. They always had the quality but now they have the belief and they are reaping the rewards.
Van Gaal has done a terrific job – something you couldn’t say about Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers yesterday. He was let down by Steven Gerrard, sent off less than a minute after his half-time introduction, but it was naive of Rodgers to leave him out instead of Joe Allen or Adam Lallana in the first place.
Gerrard’s actions were born of frustration at being benched and his team losing, and showed signs of the festering nature of his drawn-out departure. Those are the finer details of management, and while Rodgers got it wrong, Van Gaal got it absolutely right.
Trevor Steven is a former England footballer who has played at two World Cups and two European Championships. He now works as a media commentator.