How the top four clubs can win the title (and how it can go wrong)

Riyad Mahrez
Riyad Mahrez

With just six points separating the top four, we take a look at what these teams must do to ensure the title, and what may prevent them from doing so.


What they must do:

The successes of Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy and N’Golo Kante have all been heralded in the media. However, the men in the engine room of the team ensure the smooth running of Caludio Ranieri's side.

The consistency of Danny Drinkwater, the pinpoint crossing of Marc Albrighton and the defensive solidity of Wes Morgan and Robert Huth has provided the groundwork for the other players to flourish.

A continuation of this solid work is a must in order for the Foxes to complete the job. 

What may stop them:

While the lesser lights are important, Leicester's title hopes rest squarely on Mahrez and Vardy. They have chalked up 45 goals and assists between them this season, and a prolonged injury to either could see the hard work of the others come to naught.

A loss of confidence or form is a possibility too, and one that Ranieri is well aware of. 


What they must do:

The noisy neighbours of North London are genuine title contenders this year, level on points with third-place Arsenal, and it seems this year is their best chance at winning the title yet.

In order to do this, they need to maintain the balance they have achieved this season. With only 19 goals conceded this term, they have the best goal difference in the league.

This must be kept up if Spurs are to challenge until the final whistle of the season.

What may stop them:

The over-reliance on Harry Kane has been a well talked about point this season, and for the right reasons. The closest player to Kane’s 15 goals is 19-year-old midfielder Dele Alli with seven, while Tottenham’s other striker Heung-Min Son has only hit the back of the net twice this season.

A lack of viable striking options is a real problem for Spurs.


What they must do:

With many of Arsenal’s first team absentees returning from injury, such as the fiery Francis Coquelin, the game-changing Alexis Sanchez and the long awaited Danny Welbeck, the Gunners must restore consistency to achieve their first title in 12 years.

Arsene Wenger's men never really bounced back from their 4-0 drubbing at Southampton on St. Stephen’s Day, recently going through a three-game streak without a win (or even a goal).

They finally returned to form with a 2-0 win away to Bournemouth last week. Now the Gunners must utilise their key players, such as Mesut Ozil, and find the right balance between defensive control and counter-attacking prowess. 

What may stop them:

As is the case for every season, February-onwards is usually the time when Arsenal crumble under the pressure of the title race.

With key games against Leicester, Barcelona and Manchester United approaching, Wenger must be sure not to let any negative results impact the squad.

Level headedness is needed from the Gunners at this point, a trait which has eluded them in the past. 


What they must do:

Man City - many people’s titles favourites after the demise of Chelsea earlier in the season - have seemingly fallen off the wagon in recent weeks. This was most obvious during Leicester’s inspired 3-1 victory at the Etihad last Saturday.

City has one of the strongest squads in the Premier League, with arguably one the best strikers in the world in Sergio Aguero. Keeping Aguero fit, and scoring, has to be high on the agenda for Manuel Pellegrini, while getting the most out of City’s squad of stars is a must. 

What may stop them:

The announcement of Pep Guardiola as manager for next season may have created an unnecessary distraction for the City players, with many dreaming of next year under the fabled manager.

Their lack of consistency has been much discussed this season, with the former title-winners seemingly unbeatable one match and sluggish the next. It may be beyond City to launch a title assault from fourth, especially with European conquest on their mind.

By Fionnbarr Thompson