Here's how Chelsea turned three points into nine points in the last three weeks -- a Loic Remy first touch slothed past an inert Allan McGregor into a black-and-orange-striped goal, a normally-competent Asmir Begovic threw a pass into the path of an on-rushing Willian (leading to a Remy goal assisted by Eden Hazard), and an almost-never-competent Rob Green threw a pass into the path of Eden Hazard (leading to a masked Cesc Fabregas scoring an 88th minute goal to break a 0-0 deadlock). That transformed second-half draws vs. Hull, Stoke, and QPR (not exactly a Premier League murderer's row) into wins to keep Chelsea propped up at the top rung of the EPL table.
In fact, Chelsea still hasn't lost a match since being bounced by Spurs 5-3 on New Year's Day. And yet, Arsenal's WWWLWWWWWWWW form since its own New Year's Day loss has allowed Arsenal to pick up 33 of 36 points in that span. Chelsea, by comparsion, has managed 8 wins and 3 ties, for 27 of 33 points since its last loss. And Manchester United has been nearly as torrid, tying Stoke on New Year's Day, and then going 9 wins, a draw, and 2 losses since that point in the season, for 28 points out of 36.
Here's how the table looks after all that point-gathering from the top three -- the basic thing to know is that Chelsea needs 12 points in its last seven matches to win the league, and less if Arsenal and Manchester United don't keep winning. The more Arsenal and United keep winning, the more interesting it stays for the neutrals (and, of course, hopeful for Arsenal and United fans, and nervy for Chelsea fans):
|Position||Team||Points||GD||Form||Points from Last 6||Max Possible Points|
|4||Manchester City||61||+31||LWLWLL||6 (6!)||79|
(We basically threw Tottenham into this to show how close St. Totteringham's Day is to happening, as well as to show the full spectrum of the race for fourth, which could last until the final game of the season, provided City continues on its Final Days of Manuel Pelligrini path.)
Here's the rest of the schedule -- note Week 34.5 (makeup games on April 28-29) and Week 37.5 (Arsenal's makeup from this weekend, pushed to May 20 vs. Sunderland):
|Team||Week 33||Week 34||Week 34.5||Week 35||Week 36||Week 37||Week 37.5||Week 38|
|Chelsea||United (H)||Arsenal (A)||Leicester (A)||Palace (H)||Liverpool (H)||West Brom (A)||Sunderland (H)|
|Arsenal||FA Cuppin'||Chelsea (H)||Hull (A)||Swansea (H)||United (A)||Sunderland (H)||West Brom (H)|
|United||Chelsea (A)||Everton (A)||West Brom (H)||Palace (A)||Arsenal (H)||Hull (A)|
|City||West Ham (H)||Villa (H)||Spurs (A)||QPR (H)||Swansea (A)||Southampton (H)|
|Liverpool||FA Cuppin'||West Brom (A)||Hull (A)||QPR (H)||Chelsea (A)||Palace (H)||Stoke (A)|
|Southampton||Stoke (A)||Tottenham (H)||Sunderland (A)||Leicester (A)||Villa (H)||City (A)|
|Tottenham||Newcastle (A)||Southampton (A)||City (A)||Stoke (A)||Hull (H)||Everton (A)|
So, here's the most likely scenario for Arsenal winning the league: United beats Chelsea this weekend, and then Arsenal beats Chelsea on the 26th, meaning Chelsea needs 12 points in its last five matches to clinch. This is where Chelsea's games against Liverpool and Palace loom large -- if 'Pool beats Chelsea and Palace ties Chelsea (let's assume Chelsea beats Leicester), the table looks like this:
Chelsea, 77 points, two matches left, max of 83 points possible
Arsenal, 75 points, three matches left, max of 84 points possible
and, let's assume United, for drama's sake, wins all its matches up to this point -- giving us ...
United, 77 points, two matches left, max of 83 points possible
This would make the May 17 match at Old Trafford the closest facsimile to a 1 vs. 2 Premier League championship game we've had in a while. And, if they screw that up and draw, it opens the door for the final-day nail-biting awesomeness of 2012, when United fans got a celebrate a league title for 20 seconds before Sergio Aguero finished off a two-goal injury-time rally to help City overcome the awesomeness of QPR for its first title in 44 years.
TL;DR version: If Chelsea beats United or Arsenal in the next two weeks, Han Solo gets frozen in carbonite and Darth Vader has effectively crushed the rebellion. If United and then Arsenal can continue their torrid ways, and the vulnerable-looking Chelsea actually falls to teams playing better than them, we've got ourselves a race.