Midweek Preview: EPL Top Four Battle Intensifies

Chelsea returns to league action at West Ham on Wednesday after picking up the first of a possible three trophies this season by beating Tottenham in the League Cup final on Sunday.

That was the first piece of silverware won in Jose Mourinho’s second spell at the club – just as winning the League Cup in 2005 kicked off a trophy-laden era in his first stint at Stamford Bridge from 2004-07.

Mourinho captured the Premier League-League Cup in 2005 and the same double could be achieved again 10 years later. Man City’s 2-1 loss at Liverpool on Sunday left Chelsea as a huge favourite for the league title.

West Ham away is one of the hardest games left on Chelsea’s schedule and the leaders will be without defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic, who will be serving the second game of a two-match ban.

After losses to Barcelona in the Champions League and Liverpool in the Premier League in the past five days, Man City is facing a trophyless season. And that could spell trouble for manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Manchester City seems to have regressed since last season, when Pellegrini won the double in his first year in charge and his team played with great attacking intent. Indeed, the defeat at Anfield leaves City open to being caught by United and resurgent pair Arsenal and Liverpool behind them. Third-place Arsenal is four points off City with 11 games left.

City was outfought by Liverpool in a game it really needed to win and looks like a team that needs freshening up. The club’s owners must decide if that applies to Pellegrini as well.

‘I am concerned about the whole team,’ Pellegrini said after the Liverpool game.

A win against Leicester on Wednesday is a necessity if City is to stay in the title hunt

Philippe Coutinho is showing just why Barcelona forward Neymar recently said his compatriot is on course to become the star player in English football.

The playmaker has scored three long-range goals over the past month, the latest coming on Sunday when he curled home a late winner against City. His overall performances have been outstanding, too, inspiring a resurgent Liverpool to fifth in the standings after its slow first half of the season.

‘His technique is a real, real high level, so he’s going to score more goals,’ Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said of Coutinho. ‘He’s playing at a football club that adores him.’

Liverpool is the form team in the league, unbeaten since mid-December going into Wednesday’s home match against Burnley .

United’s fight with Arsenal and Liverpool for third and fourth place looks set to go to the wire this season, with the three clubs separated by two points. It could be more exciting than the title race, as Chelsea has a five-point lead – and a game in hand – over second-place Manchester City heading into the full midweek program in the league.

Credit : Fox Sports

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