Chelsea are four points clear at the top of the Premier League with a game in hand and appear to be on the verge of a fifth Premier League title of the Roman Abramovich era — they could be confirmed as champions as early as Friday, May 12 when they play West Bromwich Albion.
It would be quite the turnaround for a Chelsea team that could only finish 10th in defence of their last title. But Antonio Conte has transformed their fortunes and they are huge favourites to regain their crown after Tottenham — the only team that can stop them — lost at West Ham on Friday.
The rivalry between the two London teams has always been strong, but it has intensified in recent seasons — and reached new heights last May when Chelsea forced a draw against them which handed the title to Leicester City. Chelsea also ousted Spurs 4-2 in the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley last month.
How many points do Chelsea need to guarantee the title?
Six points, or two wins, will do it, no matter what Spurs do.
When’s the earliest Chelsea could seal the title?
Friday, May 12 — Chelsea will be crowned champions if they win their next two games at home to Middlesbrough on Monday and away at West Brom four days later. Spurs do not play in between.
What’s the likeliest time they could win the title?
Chelsea will be expected to take maximum points from their next two games, but even if they drop points then Tottenham must face Manchester United next up and could slip up themselves again.
Any other scenario?
If both Chelsea and Spurs win all their games, Chelsea would win the title against at West Brom on May 12.
Can the title go down to the final day?
It looks highly unlikely now. If Spurs win their next two games, they can afford Chelsea to pick up no more than five points from their next three. On Sunday, May 21, Chelsea host relegated Sunderland and Tottenham go to Hull, who could still need a result to stave off the drop.
What about Spurs winning the league?
It’s only mathematically possible for Spurs to win the league on the final day, not before.
What about a playoff for the title?
There is a scenario whereby the top two teams could face an additional playoff game for Premier League crown, which is when points, goal difference and goals scored are all equal. However, as Spurs have a superior goal difference of six and would need to make up a four-point gap — thus likely increasing that goal difference advantage — the chance of the two teams finishing with identical records is slim to non-existent.
Dale Johnson has been an editor and journalist at ESPN for 18 years. You can follow him on Twitter @dalejohnsonESPN.