Time for the chasing pack to step up

Ferguson's Mancheter United lead the title race

Ferguson’s Mancheter United lead the title race

The next 12 days are an anti-holiday for Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal as London’s big three attempt to head-off another year of Mancunian domination.

Last May, Manchester looked a lot like the Premier League’s capital and Chelsea and Spurs now trail second-placed City by seven points, with United a further six points up the table.

Unless one club leap from the chasing pack there is every reason to think the English title will not be leaving the North West in the foreseeable future.

Arsenal v Chelsea - Premier League
Conversely those lesser teams who have shone up until now – Everton, West Brom, Norwich – have to avoid falling back into mid-table contentment.

Above them, Spurs have settled under Andre Villas-Boas, winning five of their past six games. Stoke, Aston Villa, Sunderland and Reading offer chances to maintain that momentum and root Tottenham back in the Champions League place they occupied under Harry Redknapp.

Just as City have usurped United, so Spurs would claim to be north London’s No1. But Arsenal are recovering some of their old poise with two consecutive league wins and a parading of their new young British “core” with pens hovering and contracts laid out. Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Carl Jenkinson and Aaron Ramsey all bought the Arsène Wenger promise of jam tomorrow and will now be asked to grow up fast.

Spurs & Liverpool are also in the mix

Spurs & Liverpool are also in the mix

Liverpool are way back in 12th but they too will be frantic to start 2013 in a better place. Their manager, Brendan Rodgers, says: “It is our job to maybe look at the teams in advance of the games as it’s obviously a busy period and the players are human beings.

“You have to prepare the teams and look at the physical recovery in between but that is for the staff and the management to do.”

Is the EPL title race effectively a two-horse race now? Or can any of the other teams realistically challenge for the top prize in England? Read the complete article by Paul Hayward here and share your thoughts with us.

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