Mar 232008

It’s crunch time. Sky love to build up days like ‘Grand Slam Sunday’, but today the balance of power in the Premiership could swing inexorably one way, or level out entirely, depending on two results.

If United win against Liverpool in the day’s opening match, they will hold the aces in the race, and anything but an Arsenal win at Stamford Bridge would give them at least a five point lead. With seven games to go, it’s a big ask for anyone to overturn that.

On the flip side, if Liverpool win, United might see their lead cut entirely, and lose a great deal of the much vaunted momentum they’ve been building up. It promises to be a fascinating day.

Even more so because, for once, the games are unlikely to be dull draws, with the sides so scared to lose that they cancel each other out. The reason is simple – a draw suits only one of the four teams, and that is Liverpool. With Everton dropping points at home yesterday, they will be more than happy just to not lose ground on their rivals in a weekend where they visit Old Trafford.

And that might just suit Arsenal. Liverpool have attacked United in recent matches, and paid the price, being caught on the counter attack and losing 1-0 against the run of play in the last two meetings. This time, they can contain them, a tactic that has worked so well for them against Chelsea in Europe especially, and look to Torres to lead the fast breakaways. They are capable of at least holding the leaders.

Which brings us to match number two. Whatever the result at Old Trafford, Chelsea need to win – in third place, five points off the pace, and at home to a rival, they simply have to take all three points to stay in the race. So unlike the teams Arsenal have faced recently, who have all sat back in they way they know to frustrate us, Chelsea will have to come out. While they are always capable of goals, especially against an Arsenal defence that has looked shaky in recent games, Arsenal counter attacking a Chelsea team that conceded four in midweek is a dangerous prospect, and one that might just put their 77 game unbeaten home record at risk.

Predictions are as close to worthless as can be today, as no-one really has a clue what’ll happen. But make no mistake, the balance has the potential to swing wildly in anyone’s direction.

Enjoy it, if you can.

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