With Tottenham closing the gap on leaders Leicester to five points, TEAMtalk’s journalists discuss how they think the Premier League title race will be settled.
The dominant Foxes saw their lead at the summit cut to five points after they were held to a nervy 2-2 draw with West Ham on Sunday, while Tottenham underlined their credentials with a barnstorming 4-0 victory at Stoke on Monday night.
Here, we discuss how the two club’s remaining matches could be settled….
Matchday 35: Leicester v Swansea (April 24); Tottenham v West Brom (April 25)
James: This will be a huge test of Leicester’s nerves and Claudio Ranieri will be spending this week telling his players not to panic and play their usual game. But with the attention very much on them, it’ll be a real test of their mental toughness as much as anything and I’d back them to just about come through it. Prediction: 1-0
Spurs will absolutely make mince meat of a West Brom side, and I can see them romping to another comprehensive win. Prediction: 3-0
Oli: Prior to Jamie Vardy’s red card and subsequent suspension this would have been a formality for a dominant and effective Leicester side. They should still have enough, though it may be a squeeze. Prediction: 2-0
A West Brom team that has lost three in four will be no match for the Tottenham machine. Prediction: 3-0
Matt: Swansea have not quite got their flip-flops on yet, but I don’t expect them to put up too resistance at the King Power this weekend. Jamie Vardy will obviously be a big miss, but they will get the job done – just. Prediction: 1-0
I cannot envisage West Brom, even with Tony Pulis’ customary four centre-backs halting Spurs in the kind of form they are currently in. I expect Harry Kane to help himself. Prediction: 2-0
Rob: Leicester will undoubtedly be feeling the pressure after Spurs cut the gap in such emphatic fashion on Monday night. The absence of Jamie Vardy means Claudio Ranieri will have to change the way his side operate, but Leonardo Ulloa, who scored against Swansea last April, must be licking his lips at the chance to start against a side which shipped three goals against Newcastle on Saturday. Prediction: 2-1
Tottenham struggled at West Brom earlier in the season and were somewhat fortuitous to come away with a 1-1 draw. However, Harry Kane and co are playing with such confidence they should see off the Baggies with ease. Prediction: 2-0
Matchday 36: Manchester United v Leicester (May 1); Chelsea v Tottenham (May 2)
Matt: United have only conceded seven goals at home all season and think they might just have a point to prove against Leicester. They’re obviously far from the free-flowing side every neutral wanted to watch a few years ago, but I fancy them to edge out the Foxes. Prediction: 1-0
Spurs have got a wretched record at Stamford Bridge and have not won there for 30 games – back in 1990 – so it will be as much of a mental hurdle as a playing one for Mauricio Pochettino’s troops. That said, Spurs have a tremendous list of attacking talent and I think they are more than capable of getting a draw against another team with a point to prove. Prediction: 2-2
Rob: While there is a lot to dislike about Manchester United this season, it is difficult to knock is their home record. The Red Devils are difficult to beat at Old Trafford, although goalscoring continues to remain a problem. Leicester’s new-found defensive resolve can help them earn a point. Prediction 0-0
John Terry is targeting the visit of Tottenham to make his return from injury, and the Chelsea captain is going to be crucial if the Blues are going to thwart Spurs’ attackers. If Terry returns, in what could be one of the stalwart’s last games at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea can frustrate their London rivals. Prediction: 1-1
James: I know United aren’t anywhere near the force they once were, but they still remain tough to beat at home and Leicester may have to be at their very best to get anything here. Danny Drinkwater will be eager to impress on his return to Old Trafford, but I have a sneaky suspicion United may do them in an unusually (for Old Trafford) high-scoring game. Prediction: 3-2
A trip to Stamford Bridge will be a horrible match for Spurs and I think this is the one match in their remaining games where they could come unstuck. I’m going to tip Chelsea to keep them at bay and ensure both the top sides suffer rare defeats. Prediction: 2-0
Oli: This will be a tremendous test for the Foxes. United have conceded a league-low seven goals at home all season, meaning Ranieri’s men will have to be at their most productive, something which may prove to be too much. Prediction: 2-0
Stamford Bridge is not a happy hunting ground for Spurs. They haven’t won there since a 2-1 League Cup win in 2008, while their wait for a league win stretches back to 1990. Things are different this year, but it will still be a huge challenge. Prediction: 1-1
Matchday 37: Leicester v Everton (May 7); Tottenham v Southampton (May 8)
Rob: By this point Everton could either have an FA Cup final on the horizon, or effectively have nothing left to play for. The Toffees are the perfect side for Leicester, who should have Jamie Vardy back available by this point, to play against. Roberto Martinez’s side will commit men forward and leave plenty of space for the Foxes to exploit. Prediction: 2-0
Despite being a dangerous team, Southampton have been inconsistent away from home, and a European spot will more than likely be beyond them at this stage. Tottenham will be under pressure knowing they can’t afford to slip up, but they should have enough quality. Prediction: 2-1
Oli: Everton have lost just twice away from home this campaign, and are much better on the road than at Goodison. This will be an interesting tactical battle, and I expect this to be a potential banana skin for the Foxes. Prediction: 1-2
The Saints have lost six out of seven against Spurs in the Premier League. While I think Koeman and Southampton will make life very difficult for the home team, they should have the quality to sneak over the line. Prediction: 2-1
Matt: Everton have been strong away from home and they might just upset Leicester’s apple cart. With Tottenham likely to have made up ground on the long-time leaders I expect the pressure to take it’s toll and Romelu Lukaku and co might just cause an upset. Prediction: 1-2
This should be plain sailing for Spurs despite Saints still chasing a place in the Europa League. Ronaldo Koemen’s men have only scored 14 times on the road in 17 games and Tottenham withe the best attack in the league should be able to outscore the visitors. Prediction: 3-1
James: Everton are far stronger a side away from home and will be a tough nut for Leicester to crack. Both teams like to hit sides on the break, and while I expect to see goals, I think we may see a goalscoring draw here. Prediction: 1-1
Saints may well still be in a fight for Europe, so this is another potential hurdle for Spurs. It might need a piece of magic from Christian Eriksen to unlock the door late on, but I’d back Spurs to eventually prevail. Prediction: 1-0
Matchday 38: Chelsea v Leicester (May 15); Newcastle v Tottenham (May 15)
Matt: Chelsea will not fancy offering the guard of honour to Leicester on the final day and don’t be surprised if Guus Hiddink goes out with a bang at the Bridge. There could well be goals with Leicester needing a win to seal the title. Prediction: 4-2
There will be no slip-ups for Tottenham on Tyneside with Newcastle, probably, already down. A point may be enough for Spurs to win the title on goal difference, but there should be a hatful of goals in it for them and they will earn their first top-flight title since 1960/61 in style. Prediction: 0-3
James: I think Chelsea could deliver another knockout punch in the title race, and although the players will surely prefer a Leicester title triumph, the players’ professionalism, coupled with the need to send Guus Hiddink out on a winning note, will ensure they’ll make it a miserable finish for Ranieri & Co. Prediction: 2-1
Newcastle v Spurs is an potentially massive match and there could be tears on display for very different reasons here. I do think, however, class – and Spurs’ greater determination – will prevail and they’ll leave St James’ Park with all three points, and who knows, possibly the title. Prediction: 1-2
Rob: If my previous predictions are correct, then Leicester will have an unassailable five-point lead come the final weekend of the final season, which will mean Claudio Ranieri lifting the Premier League trophy at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea will want to give Guus Hiddink, and possibly John Terry, a good send off, which should provide an entertaining encounter. Prediction 2-2
Tottenham’s trip to St James’ Park is tough to call as Newcastle may need a win to avoid the drop, but could have already been relegated by this stage. Even if the Magpies are desperate, Spurs are a much more ruthless outfit, and if needed will break some north East hearts. Prediction: 3-1
Oli: This has possible heartbreak written all over it for Leicester. In a game that will be full of emotion, I expect Chelsea to play with freedom but also passion in their farewell to Hiddink, and they might just put a big spanner in the works with a win here. Prediction: 3-1
St. James Park on the other hand could witness an absolute classic on the final day, with implications at opposite ends of the table for the teams involved. However, I think Newcastle will be relegated by this point, and that Spurs will be the ones celebrating come the final whistle on May 15. Prediction: 0-3
James: I’ve backed Spurs to pick up three wins from four in their remaining games, and Leicester to only get four (points) from the 12 left available. That would ensure the sides finish level on points, but Spurs pinching the title on the last day of the season on goal difference. It’d be harsh on Leicester, but I think many would welcome glory for Spurs!
Matt: Spurs will time their late surge to perfection and pick up three wins from their last four games to win the title, while I expect Leicester to limp over the line. Only Chelsea will stop Pochettino’s attacking machine taking maximum points from their four games, while Leicester will ‘bottle it’ and lose three of their final four to finish two points off the pace.
Rob: I have written about my admiration for this Spurs team on a number of occasions, and they would be worthy winners of the title, but I think Leicester’s fairytale would be one of the greatest stories in the history of English football. Perhaps that has clouded my judgement, but I have Tottenham needing to win all their remaining matches, which I think they will just fall short of, finishing three points off the summit. Leicester as champions!
Oli: I have Spurs picking up 10 points from the last four, with three wins and a draw, while Leicester limp to four points from the same number of games. That would mean a potentially chaotic last day, but there is a big chance that Tottenham snatch the title!
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