Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal: Four teams and four games that could decide the Premier League title
The Premier League title race took yet another turn at the weekend to ensure the four way tussle between Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City remains as tight as ever.
Just as it appeared Chelsea would calmly stroll to the throne so easily vacated by Manchester United, chaos broke out. Defeat to Aston Villa was compounded by red cards for Ramires and Willian and a sending off for Jose Mourinho as well.
Manchester City completed an expected victory over Hull City, despite Vincent Kompany making things a bit more difficult than they needed to be.
But it was victories for Arsenal and Liverpool, away at their greatest rivals Tottenham and Manchester United respectively, that signalled the title race contains four contenders - and it would be dangerous to rule any off them out.
With the Premier League table so tight and games quickly running out, focus is turning to the meetings between the top four sides and the significance they will have on the final standings.
There remain four meetings between them - four meetings that could decide the title...
Chelsea v Arsenal (Saturday 22 March)
The first meeting between the top four sides takes place next weekend and sees Arsenal travel to Stamford Bridge. After the ill-discipline against Aston Villa, Mourinho will have a depleted team to pick from, but the Special One will hope the Blues' fine record against their London rivals continues.
Arsenal have won just five of the last 20 meetings between the sides and have won none of the last five. They have already played twice this season, drawing 0-0 in the league and Chelsea winning 2-0 in the Capital One Cup.
With Mourinho saying Arsene Wenger is a "specialist in failure" earlier this season, there's an extra bit of motivation for the Gunners.
Arsenal v Manchester City (Saturday 29 March)
Arsenal are involved in another top-four clash in quick succession and one feels that poor results in these two games could see the end of the Gunners' hopes of a first title since 2003/04.
City were incredible when they met at the Etihad earlier this season, winning 6-3. They also won on their last visit to the Emirates.
If Wenger's side can make it through those two fixtures they will be able to look at their remaining run of games with confidence. Aside from Everton, their remaining six games are against mid-to-lower table sides.
Liverpool v Manchester City (Sunday 13th April)
Liverpool are the form team entering the final games of the season and the victory over Manchester United at the weekend showed just how far they're progressed since last season.
The sides have been involved in some entertaining games of late, with City coming from behind to win 2-1 earlier this season and the three previous meetings ending 2-2.
Going into the game, Liverpool will be conscious of their failures against their fellow title rivals this season. On the road they lost to Arsenal, City and Chelsea. Brendan Rodgers must hope they can produce a performance more like the 5-1 league win over Arsenal at Anfield earlier this year.
Liverpool v Chelsea (Sunday 27 April)
The final match between the top four sides comes just three games from the end of the season and it could be the biggest of the lot.
With so much potentially on the line, memories of their Champions League meetings of the late-noughties will be reprised. With new technology, there's no chance of any 'ghost goals' deciding the match, but the tension and atmosphere that engulfed those European meetings could return.
When they met earlier this season Chelsea won 2-1 while last season's meeting at Anfield was 2-2.
REMAINING 'TOP-FOUR' MEETINGS...
H v Arsenal (Sat 22 March)
A v Liverpool (Sun 27 April)
H v Manchester City (Sun 13 April)
H v Chelsea (Sun 27 April)
A v Chelsea (Sat 22 March)
H v Manchester City (Sat 29 March)
A v Arsenal (Sat 29 March)
A v Liverpool (Sun 13 April)
Belfast Telegraph Digital