When Loic Remy's weak dribbler of a shot passed through Allan McGregor's prone, flaccid body on Sunday, not that I am bitter, it gifted Chelsea a bizarre 3-2 win over Hull, and seemingly helped Chelsea tighten its hold on the 2014-15 Premier League title. And yet, Chelsea hasn't yet clinched the title during a season in which they were very prematurely crowned "The Invincibles" -- and still may not, depending on some key matches in April and early May.
First, some sobering math that you may already be aware of. Chelsea has 67 points and nine matches left to play this season. They can get to a maximum of 94 points, placing them well ahead of rivals Manchester City (maximum possible of 85), Arsenal (m.p, of 84), and Manchester United (m.p. of 83) -- but, if there's a bright side to be had here, one point below their record-setting 95 points from the 2004-05 season. Playoff Magic provides a helpful visual as to who needs how many points to close its rivals out.
However, Arsenal getting to its maximum of 84 points, a scenario which would include the Gunners winning the April 26 match against Chelsea, would place Chelsea's maximum at 91 -- meaning that another eight points lost, or seven plus turning Chelsea's current goal differential of +9 to at least a -1 -- would be enough to allow Arsenal to surpass Chelsea for the league title.
The most likely candidate matches for Chelsea to lose points, aside from the Arsenal match, are April 18's match against the weirdly-resilient Manchester United in London, and May 9's tilt against Liverpool, also in London. Other tricky matches for Chelsea in the coming weeks include two more home matches against potential spoilers -- April 4 against Stoke, and May 8 against Palace. The other four matches don't look particularly scary for Chelsea -- three of them are away to QPR, Leicester, and West Brom, and their season finale is at the Bridge against Sunderland. (Sunderland attempting to avoid relegation could be a sub-plot, though it's likely that they'll have 16th or 17th place locked up at this point in the season.)
Arsenal's fixture list, aside from the Liverpool and Chelsea matches, is like Chelsea's in that it's mostly bottom-half heavy. There is the matter of traveling to Old Trafford on May 16 to hopefully put some distance between Arsenal and United, but it's followed by two matches in a five-day span against lesser teams to finish the season -- the FA Cup semis makeup tie vs. Sunderland on May 20, and the season finale against West Brom on the 24th.
Title talk still, for the time being, also has to include the Mancunians on either side of Arsenal in the table. City has a comparatively rough April, traveling to Palace, hosting United, and hosting West Ham before enjoying an Aston Villa sorbet, but they also have Spurs away and Swansea away in May, and finish the season by hosting Southampton. United, playing the role of EPL zombies this year, survived their tests against Spurs and Liverpool (which turned out to be open-book, go-ahead-and-use-your-notes, teacher's-dozing-off-so-we-can-cheat tests). They still have City, Chelsea, and Everton to contend with in April, with a trip to Palace and a final-day trip to Hull bookending their May 16 date with Arsenal. It seems that there would be a loss or two in there somewhere, but it also seemed like Steven Gerrard could manage to stay in a match for more than 42 seconds.
Even if the title might be an even longer shot for Arsenal after Sunday's results, there are some obvious positives that have come from Arsenal's post-New-Year's-Day run of nine wins and one unlucky day against Harry Kane in their last ten matches.
They have a six-point cushion over 5th place Liverpool which could expand to nine points after their April 4 battle at the Emirates, and a seven-point edge over Spurs, meaning that Arsenal is just six wins (or five wins and three ties) from St. Totteringham's Day regardless of what Spurs do the remainder of the year. (And given that Spurs travel to Southampton April 25 and host City on May 2, it's entirely possible that St. Tots comes when Arsenal visit those spunky Tigers who gave Chelsea such fits, the same day Spurs tussle with the Citizens.)
For Arsenal, the formula is relatively simple, albeit an admittedly fanciful scenario: Keep winning, hope that there's a late-season collapse in Chelsea causing them to shed eight points, and hope that the Manchester Derby ends in a draw (or that those respective teams draw or lose somewhere down the stretch).