Was Sunday the day Chelsea won a Premier League and Cup double?

City wasted a huge chance to close the gap on the title favourites

Tom Sheen@Tom_Sheen
Monday 02 March 2015 13:31

Sunday, 1 March could not have gone any better for Chelsea and their manager Jose Mourinho.

The Blues, thanks to a member of the coaching staff, knew heading into the Capital One Cup final that Premier League title rivals Manchester City had blown their chance to close the gap at the top of the table to two points.

By losing at Anfield, Manuel Pellegrini's team left themselves just 11 matches to close a gap that now stands at five points - Chelsea also have a game in hand and a goal difference that is four better than the North West club.

Chelsea went on to win the Capital One Cup, of course, beating Tottenham 2-0 thanks to a goal from John Terry and a Kyle Walker own goal from Diego Costa's cross.

Heading into the final two months of the season, it is Chelsea who hold a clear advantage, although the run-in is slightly harder on paper.

Jose Mourinho takes his success lying down as Chelsea celebrate the first trophy of his second spell at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea remaining fixtures

West Ham (a), Southampton (h), Hull (a), Stoke (h), QPR (a), Manchester United (h), Arsenal (a), Leicester (h), Crystal Palace (h), Liverpool (h), West Brom (a), Sunderland (h)

Manchester City remaining fixtures

Leicester (h), Burnley (a), West Brom (h), Crystal Palace (a), Manchester United (a), West Ham (h), Aston Villa (h), Tottenham (a), QPR (h), Swansea (a), Southampton (h)

Sergio Aguero and David Silva react to defeat at Anfield

Defeat by City saw bookies dramatically shorten on Chelsea, with some offering as low as just 1/6 for the Blues to win the title, while City can be found at 7/1.

Chelsea still have to play Champions League chasing Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool, but their only away fixture out of those is at the Emirates.

City have to play two of the chasing pack but both of the games are away, at Sunday's beaten finalists Tottenham and against local rivals United.

Both teams play six of the relegation battlers, although Chelsea travel away to those teams three times and City just twice.

Louis van Gaal's team will not only be chasing a top four spot of his own when the teams meet at Old Trafford on 12 April, United will want to produce their best performance of the season to stop their rivals winning another title.

City's 'easier' fixtures are against teams mired in the relegation battle - of their remaining games only, perhaps, Swansea and West Ham will have little to play for with both sides seemingly heading towards a mid-table finish.

Manchester City have to travel to Old Trafford in what will be a key game in the title race

Stoke are the only such team Chelsea play, but there is a sense that this Mourinho side will not drop points when it really matters. The Burnley draw a couple of weeks ago may go against this, but the Blues were unlucky not to have two penalties, while Ashley Barnes, as Mourinho is at pains to point out, should have been sent off.

However, this is some hope for Manchester City. An exit from the Champions League in a couple of weeks, looking likely after defeat to Barcelona at the Etihad, will leave them with much more time to prepare and rest between matches than their rivals.

Chelsea hold the advantage of Paris Saint-Germain after a first-leg draw, and an away goal, in Paris and an extended run in the Europe will put strain on the squad.

Speaking after the defeat, Manuel Pellegrini said the title race was far from over.

Pellegrini says there is still plenty of time left in the title race

"I think we never give up about the title," he said. "We must try to improve our play first and after that try to win our next game. You never know in football what will happen.

"It is more difficult when you have less games and you continue with the same points.

"But I don’t think the team can think about that. The team must think about how we can win the next game."

The Chelsea manager echoed the sentiment, stating the title race was not theirs to lose.

Mourinho lifting the trophy on Sunday

"It's in the hands of everyone," said the Portuguese, who won the first trophy of his second spell. "We have lots of difficult matches to play. City have difficult matches. United are third, right? Nine points (behind)? They are in the title race too."

With two months still to go until the end of the season there is still massive amounts of football to be played.

But Sunday may have been the day the title race truly swung in the favour of Chelsea.

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