Premier League: The crucial fixtures that lie ahead

Thanks to that late goal at QPR, Chelsea are seven points clear at the top of the Premier League and are now strong favour...

Thanks to that late goal at QPR, Chelsea are seven points clear at the top of the Premier League and are now strong favourites to claim their fourth crown. Even better, the Blues have a game in hand on second-placed Arsenal and that Premier League title is getting closer and closer. There are still some vital games to play, though. So let's take a look at the four most important matches still to be played in the Premier League this season.

Saturday April 18   Chelsea v Manchester United

There have been some titanic battles between Chelsea and United in recent years and this looks like being another one. United come to Stamford Bridge in top form with wins over Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester City in recent weeks. All of which indicates they could be a massive threat next season, but this is 2014-15 and Chelsea are eight points clear of them with a game in hand.

With Arsenal playing in the FA Cup (at least they might win something this year), Chelsea play their game in hand on the Gunners. A win over United will put them ten points clear with six games remaining and 11 points ahead of United with a game in hand on them. The Blues definitely need to play better than they did at QPR, but with so much at stake hopefully they will rise to the occasion and see off the threat of United.

Sunday April 26:  Everton v Manchester United

Even though Everton have had a disappointing season, no one really likes travelling to Goodison Park. Well apart from Chelsea, of course, who put six past the Toffees at the start of the campaign.  That's one of just three defeats at home this season and since losing to Stoke on Boxing Day, Everton have gone six home league games without defeat. If United have any hope of winning the title or finishing second, they need to keep on what is admittedly great form towards the end of the season. A draw or defeat at Goodison Park would definitely end United's title hopes.

Sunday April 26: Arsenal v Chelsea

All being well, Chelsea will be ten points clear of Arsenal by the time the Blues travel to the Emirates. Arsenal will be clutching at straws by then and, of course, Arsene Wenger will be saying his side have no chance of winning the title. While that might be a pretty accurate view, a Chelsea win here would just about seal the trophy. It's true to say that Arsenal are in good form at present, but most of their league wins over the past month or so have been against teams who they regularly beat. This won't be an easy game for Chelsea, but they go to the Emirates knowing even a loss will simply delay the day they win the title.

May 17th: Manchester United v Arsenal

This is a fixture that is really going to help Chelsea in the Premier League run-in. Both teams need as many points as they can if they can harbour any hopes of getting past Chelsea and winning the title. So here we have a game in which at least one, but hopefully both, will drop points. With luck and a great deal of Chelsea skill, the title should have been wrapped up by now and these two sides will be battling it out for second place. Arsenal have already won at Old Trafford in the FA Cup but with United showing improved form since that defeat, a home win looks likely.

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