These three fixtures can trip Chelsea up and give Tottenham title opening
COMMENT By Dominic Toner
Chelsea have been dubbed the champions-elect for most of the season since Antonio Conte’s switch to a 3-4-3 formation, but Tottenham’s recent form has breathed new life into the title race.
Spurs have won their last six consecutive league games and have now been boosted by the return of talisman Harry Kane.
Meanwhile, Chelsea are seven points above them at the top of the table and a recent defeat at home to Crystal Palace suggested they can be beaten.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side are seven points adrift with just seven games remaining and it seems unlikely they will make up the deficit, but stranger things have certainly happened in the Premier League era.
Here, Football Insider looks at there remaining fixtures in Chelsea’s seven-game schedule that could trip them up, opening the door for Spurs if they keep up their winning streak.
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Manchester United (Away) – 16 April
Chelsea travel to Old Trafford in their next match and this is arguably their most difficult game remaining to negotiate. The Blues fans will rightly point towards the 4-0 win in the previous meeting at Stamford Bridge this season, but United are a different animal now. They are unbeaten in their last 22 top flight matches and have found a real defensive solidity recently. Jose Mourinho will be desperate to get one over on his former employees and the Red Devils also have their own top-four ambitions to take care of. Chelsea will be very wary of United’s threat and there are none greater than striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. This could certainly be a fixture that trips Conte’s side up and they are set to be under immense pressure from the Old Trafford crowd.
Everton (Away) – 25 April
Chelsea face a daunting test of travelling to Goodison Park later in April and that takes place just three days after their FA Cup semi-final clash against Spurs at Wembley. The Toffees have proven to be a formidable force at Goodison Park this season and have won their last seven consecutive games at home in the league. They have dispatched the likes of Manchester City, Leicester and Southampton in that time, and are trying to secure a European spot this season. Chelsea’s previous meeting wth Everton, similarly to United, was a comprehensive game they won 5-0 at Stamford Bridge. The Merseyside club will surely be desperate for revenge and have the league’s top goal scorer Romelu Lukaku at their disposal.
West Brom (Away) – 13 May
Forward Diego Costa settled the previous meeting with his goal in a 1-0 victory over West Brom and Conte will be prepared for a resilient test in the reverse fixtures. Chelsea travel to the Hawthorns on the penultimate round of matches and will be wary of the league’s eight-placed side. The Baggies manager Tony Pulis has a very organised team at his disposal and they have had a fantastic season so far. Chelsea have just one victory in their last five trips to West Brom and the pressure could really be on them at this stage if the title is on the line. They will be happy to defend the Blues’ pressure and Conte’s side have proved they like to hit teams on the counter attack, instead.
Chelsea also have games against Southampton, Watford, Middlesbrough and Sunderland during their run in.
The Blues will know there are never any easy games in the Premier League and the teams fighting relegation should be a big test.
Spurs will be praying that their London rivals begin to feel the pressure and suffer a collapse similar to Liverpool’s in the 2013/14 season.
In other Tottenham news, Martin Keown believes Spurs must keep hold of their senior man.