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Manchester City Back in Control of Title Destiny, Chelsea Remain Third Favourites

Chelsea may have defeated Liverpool to keep their slim hopes alive, but nobody gained more yesterday than Manchester City, again favourites and in control of their own title destiny.

Alex Livesey

Liverpool headed into Sunday knowing seven points in their final three matches would guarantee them their first title in 24 years and their first ever Premier League title. Having lost to Chelsea, the most they can earn now is six. After the whistle blew in Liverpool, Manuel Pellegrini's Manchester City handily dispatched Crystal Palace. With the two results, Liverpool no longer control their own title destiny and City are left the only side in England that do.

City, if they win out, can earn 86 points, equal to the 86 that Liverpool can earn. Thanks to an eight better goal differential, though, as well as a game in hand that would improve theirs by at least one relative to Liverpool's should both sides win out, the Reds would need to win their final two matches by at least nine goals to have a chance of evening City on the Premier League's first tie breaking metric. If City were to win their remaining matches by two goals apiece, Liverpool would need 12.

That means that, realistically, for Liverpool to win the title they now need City to drop points at some point in their remaining three matches. Chelsea, meanwhile, only capable of earning 84 points even if they win out and with a massively inferior goal differential to both Liverpool and City, remain a distant third for the title. They aren't completely out of the running, but for Chelsea to win they would need to win out as well as have both City and Liverpool drop three points.

Some advanced statistical models continue to insist that Liverpool remain narrow favourites for the title. After all, Liverpool are still, rather self-evidently, top of the table on 80 points compared to City's 77, and that three-point edge has meant they have earned an average of 2.22 points per game over the entirety of the season to date. Having played a game less, City have earned their 77 points by averaging 2.2 points per game. It's a narrow gap, but so far City have earned slightly less with each outing.

They also play the hardest of the five matches left to the two clubs, facing off against fifth-place Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday. City's other remaining matches are against Aston Villa and West Ham, while Liverpool's are against Crystal Palace and Newcastle. Still, the reality is that even if City's road to 86 points is slightly more difficult and slightly less certain than Liverpool's is, they're still the only side controlling their own destiny.

Context here also seems important. Everton may be the toughest opponent remaining for either side, but with a loss to Southampton over the weekend, Everton's season is now effectively over. They remain only a point behind Arsenal, but Arsenal have a game in hand and the easier remaining schedule. Should the Gunners get any kind of a result against floundering Newcastle tonight, it would all but end Everton's top four hopes and remove a great deal of their motivation for the City match.

In the end, too, it always comes back to one thing: City are the one side left that control their own destiny now. Liverpool's title hopes aren't entirely done, but following Sunday's loss the club once again need help. And with the Premier League season down to mere weeks, there are desperately few chances left for them to get it.

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