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SUPRIYA BAKHT
SPORTING CHIC

Supriya Bakht is an incessant talker with a shoe addiction. She's usually found ranting and raving about politics, football and Arsenal; but mostly about Arsenal.

Season to be decided in 90 manic minutes

f only every Sunday had as exciting a football lineup as today. In what promises to be the most important weekend of football this season, United could seal their title hopes if they can triumph over resilient Chelsea this evening. In La Liga, a Barcelona victory in the Catalan derby on Sunday night is all that stands between Barcelona and their quest for a third consecutive La Liga title.

As we head into the last three weeks of the English Premier League, it is expected that the title race will go down to the wire. Exactly like last year, it could be decided in ninety minutes, a critical match between United and Chelsea that will go a long way in helping either club win the title. By tonight, it will be clear whether Chelsea still have an opportunity to defend their title or whether United will lift the trophy this season. In what many are referring to as the 'final' of the Premiership, Chelsea travel to Old Trafford with everything to play for.

Besides their recent wins against Chelsea in both legs of the Champions League quarterfinals, United have the added confidence of a formidable home record on their side. The side have not lost at home since April last season The only dark cloud for Sir Alex Ferguson is the potential impact of last weekend's loss against Arsenal on his team's drive. Chelsea, on the other hand, have substantially upped their game to pull themselves back into contention in the league. Despite having lingered in fifth place, the Blues have bounced back from their early season slump. In March, the Blues were fifteen points behind league leaders United. Now, with three fixtures left to play, the gap at the top of the table has narrowed to a mere three points. Chelsea have been particularly resilient; despite having lingered in fifth place earlier this season, they are yet to lose a game in  the Premiership since early February, including a 2-1 comeback at Stamford Bridge against Man Utd. All things considered, and the strange coincidence of another EPL 'final' mirroring 2010 would prevent anyone from ruling out Chelsea till the final whistle is blown.

The mathematics is fairly straightforward. Chelsea trail the leaders by three points but a win today would take them top of the League, ahead of United on a marginal goal difference. With a home game against Newcastle and an away game against Everton left to play, it could be the difference between the two teams. A win for United, however, would extend their lead to six points. Barring the unforeseen likelihood of back-to-back losses in their remaining games against Blackburn and Blackpool, the title would be theirs.

Don't you just love the permutation and combinations, the probabilities and potential outcomes? The 2010 - 2011 EPL has been far more competitive and tightly contested as any season in the recent past. Fittingly enough, the hunt for title glory could potentially be decided down on the last day of the League. Or if you were to believe Jose Mourinho or his equally vocal Scottish counterpart Ferguson, it could boil down to a favourable referee decision or two.

While we're on the subject of the no-longer Special One, in what has been the worst week of his career, UEFA awarded Mourinho a five-match ban for his involvement in the ruckus during and after the Champions League semi final against Barcelona. Given tonight's derby at the Nou Camp, it seems that hellish week is far from over. Victory over Espanyol is all that Barcelona need for their triumphant defense of the title two years in a row. Now, that's really got to hurt, Jose.

Stay parked on that couch all day for what promises to be an unusually decisive day of football!

 
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