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Breaking down the title run-in: do Premier League favourites Leicester have the advantage?

Breaking down the title run-in: do Leicester have the advantage?

09/02/2016 at 14:28Updated 11/02/2016 at 08:16

A 3-1 win at Manchester City made Leicester favourites for the Premier League title for the first time this season, but does the run-in favour their chances?

With Leicester now five points clear at the top of the table as the final third of the season approaches, Claudio Ranieri's men have become the team to beat.

Instead of Jamie Vardy, it was the unlikely figure of Robert Huth who bagged the goals that fired the Foxes to their biggest win of the season yet at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

With momentum now firmly in their favour, can Leicester keep it together for the final 13 games of the most unpredictable Premier League campaign in memory? Or will the pressure of the situation derail what should be a fairly straightforward final straight? Let's take a look at the run-in for each of the top four clubs.

LEICESTER

DATE OPPONENT OPPONENT'S POINTS TALLY OPPONENT'S LEAGUE POSITION
FEB 14 ARSENAL (A) 48 3
FEB 27 NORWICH (H) 23 18
MAR 1 WEST BROM (H) 29 14
MAR 5 WATFORD (A) 33 10
MAR 14 NEWCASTLE (H) 24 17
MAR 19 CRYSTAL PALACE (A) 32 12
APR 2 SOUTHAMPTON (H) 37 7
APR 9 SUNDERLAND (A) 20 19
APR 16 WEST HAM (H) 39 6
APR 23 SWANSEA (H) 27 16
APR 30 MAN UTD (A) 41 5
MAY 7 EVERTON (H) 35 8
MAY 15 CHELSEA (A) 30 13
AVERAGE 32 12

THIRTEEN GAMES LEFT THIS SEASON

After their trip to the Emirates on Sunday, Leicester do not face another title rival this season. The average points total of their opponents is 32 with an average league position of 12th in the table. It's a favourable run-in for Ranieri's men with a trip to Old Trafford at the end of April their most daunting fixture left.

Only three other sides from the top 10 remain - all at home - though the flux of this whacky Premier League season means any side between Southampton in 7th and Chelsea in 13th will trade places frequently over the coming months. Leicester's shot at the title will rely heavily on how many points they can pick up from a kind March fixture list before facing Manchester United, Everton and Chelsea in the final three games of the season. That they can only possibly play another 13 games this season, while Manchester City have at least another 17 fixtures to contend with, lies heavily in their favour.

Tottenham's Harry Kane applauds fans after the game

Tottenham's Harry Kane applauds fans after the gameReuters

TOTTENHAM

DATE OPPONENT OPPONENT'S POINTS TALLY OPPONENT'S LEAGUE POSITION
FEB 14 MAN CITY (A) 47 4
FEB 28 SWANSEA (H) 27 16
MAR 2 WEST HAM (A) 39 6
MAR 5 ARSENAL (H) 48 3
MAR 12 ASTON VILLA (A) 16 20
MAR 19 BOURNEMOUTH (H) 28 15
APR 2 LIVERPOOL (A) 35 9
APR 9 MAN UTD (H) 41 5
APR 16 STOKE (A) 33 11
APR 23 WEST BROM (H) 29 14
APR 30 CHELSEA (A) 30 13
MAY 7 SOUTHAMPTON (H) 37 7
MAY 15 NEWCASTLE (A) 24 17
AVERAGE 33 11

MINIMUM 16 GAMES LEFT THIS SEASON

With trips to the Etihad, Anfield and Stamford Bridge to come, Spurs' run-in is a good deal trickier than Leicester's. A North London derby at White Hart Lane in early March will be critical, with Tottenham tasting only one home defeat to their fierce rivals in the past nine years. Where Maurcio Pochettino's men may have some joy is in their games against mid-table opponents with little to play for. Of relegation candidates they face Swansea before the end of the month and trips to Villa Park and finally St James' Park on the final day of the season.

Against opponents with an average league position of 11th, Spurs have a run-in far more trickier than Leicester, with a minimum of 16 games to come and potentially more should their FA Cup and Europa League commitments go further.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates scoring for Arsenal against Bournemouth

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates scoring for Arsenal against BournemouthReuters

ARSENAL

DATE OPPONENT OPPONENT'S POINTS TALLY OPPONENT'S LEAGUE POSITION
FEB 14 LEICESTER (H) 53 1
FEB 28 MAN UTD (A) 41 5
MAR 2 SWANSEA (H) 27 16
MAR 5 TOTTENHAM (A) 48 2
MAR 12 WEST BROM (H) 29 14
MAR 19 EVERTON (A) 35 8
APR 2 WATFORD (H) 33 10
APR 9 WEST HAM (A) 39 6
APR 16 CRYSTAL PALACE (H) 32 12
APR 23 SUNDERLAND (A) 20 19
APR 30 NORWICH (H) 23 18
MAY 7 MAN CITY (A) 47 4
MAY 15 ASTON VILLA (H) 16 20
AVERAGE 34 10

MINIMUM 16 GAMES LEFT THIS SEASON

In facing each of their three title opponents before the end of the season Arsenal have been dealt with the toughest hand of all. Ever the optimist, though, Arsene Wenger will be acutely aware that the potential nine-point swing represents a real opportunity for the Gunners, but daunting trips to White Hart Lane, the Etihad Stadium and even Old Trafford later this month will be critical.

Arsenal's final four fixtures this season come against the current bottom three and Manchester City. Wenger will be looking for a relatively calm April to help his side build a head of steam before the showdown in Manchester on the penultimate weekend of the season.

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero celebrates scoring their first goal

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero celebrates scoring their first goalReuters

MANCHESTER CITY

DATE OPPONENT OPPONENT'S POINTS TALLY OPPONENT'S LEAGUE POSITION
FEB 14 TOTTENHAM (H) 48 2
FEB 28 (P) NEWCASTLE (A) 24 17
MAR 2 LIVERPOOL (A) 35 9
MAR 5 ASTON VILLA (H) 16 20
MAR 12 NORWICH (A) 23 18
MAR 20 MAN UTD (H) 41 5
APR 2 BOURNEMOUTH (A) 28 15
APR 9 WEST BROM (H) 29 14
APR 16 CHELSEA (A) 30 13
APR 23 STOKE (H) 33 11
APR 30 SOUTHAMPTON (A) 37 7
MAY 7 ARSENAL (H) 48 3
MAY 15 SWANSEA (A) 27 16
AVERAGE 32 12

MINIMUM 17 GAMES LEFT THIS SEASON

Only fixture burnout and the unstoppable rise of Leicester City stands between Manchester City and a third Premier League crown. With a fixture list as favourable as Leicester's, despite the May meeting with Arsenal, Manuel Pellegrini's men should be clear second favourites to take the title. After a crucial clash with Spurs this Sunday, they face a run of games that looks kind on the surface - though Anfield has been far from a happy hunting ground for City in recent seasons - before a Manchester derby at home in March.

A trip to a resurgent Chelsea in April is their toughest away game in the final two months of the season - other competitions notwithstanding. City's pursuit of glory across four competitions could prove their undoing and encourage the kind of off-days that they suffered at the hands of Leicester on Saturday.

LEICESTER'S BEST HOPE OF VICTORY...

If Leicester have a two- or three-point advantage heading into the final few games, it probably won’t be enough. How many points can they expect to gain from their concluding trio of matches – United (a), Everton (h), Chelsea (a) – when the pressure is firmly on? Their best bet: maintaining a sizable lead while their rivals navigate European competition.

Having said all of that, Leicester have surprised us all season. It's silly to suggest they couldn't finish the job at Stamford Bridge.

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