Chelseaai??i??s title challenge had a major hiccup on Wednesday after they could only draw 0-0 with West Ham at home while Manchester City dismantled Tottenhamai??i??s resistance with a 5-1 away win. Arsenalai??i??s failure to win – they drew 2-2 at Southampton ai??i?? relinquished the lead to City (53 points), and now the onus will be on Arsenal (52 points) and Chelsea (50 points) to keep pace with them.

Chelsea will have a golden opportunity to draw level with City on points when the two sides meet at the Etihad Stadium on Monday night in what promises to be an enthralling encounter. Chelsea managed to win their earlier encounter 2-1 at Stamford Bridge, but City have clicked into a different gear altogether since then.

With a win, Chelsea will still be behind City in the league table, only on goal difference, and the victory will be the perfect launching pad for them to move into the final third of the season. Arsenal have a comparatively easier fixture against Crystal Palace, and will be most likely return to the top of the table if City fail to win.

However, if Chelsea lose to City, it could damage their chances of being in the title race by opening up a six-point gap with leaders City, and potentially five points off second placed Arsenal. Just to complicate matters further, Liverpool will be breathing down their necks just one point behind if they manage to win against West Brom.

That being said, it is not all doom and gloom for Chelsea, even if they do lose against City. The fixture list has been favorable to them with the big games pretty evenly spaced out. Of the top seven sides, Chelsea have away games against only City (3rd February) and Liverpool (26th April), and they will be at home while facing Everton (22nd February), Tottenham (8th March) and Arsenal (22nd March) after already having played the two games against Manchester United.

Compared to that, City have a much tougher fixture list- Chelsea is their only home game against top 7 clubs. Theyai??i??ll have to visit Manchester United (25th March), Arsenal (29th March), Liverpool (12th April) and Everton (3rd May), with the first three games coming almost back to back. Arsenal too have tough away fixtures to contend with ai??i?? Liverpool (8th February), Tottenham (16th March), Chelsea, Everton (5th April) ai??i?? and will host Manchester United (12th February) and Manchester City between tough away games.

If Chelsea are able to negotiate the tough fixtures successfully without losing too many points, they could still be in the title race considering the tough and congested fixture list that faces their two main rivals in the title race. Mourinho will have all these things factored into his plans and perhaps have the license of having a go at City.

As Liverpool proved earlier in the season, City are at their most vulnerable when they are pushed back, and the knowledge of a favorable fixture list may just be the catalyst for Chelsea to push forward on Monday. 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