After the past few days, the Premier League title race appears as good as over.
The odds on Manchester City retaining their crown have shortened significantly after they won 1-0 at Brentford on Wednesday night to claim a 10th successive league victory.
Across West London at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw by Brighton while Liverpool, of course, slumped to a damaging 1-0 defeat at Leicester City the night previously.
It might be slightly harsh to write off Jurgen Klopp’s men and Chelsea as also-rans – but it might not too far wide of the mark.
bet 365 make Pep Guardiola’s side 1/8 on to clinch the title while Liverpool have slipped out to 7/1 with most bookies.
The previous two occasions City rounded off December in first place in the Premier League – in 2011-12 and 2017-18 – they went on to win the title.
Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea are rated as 17/1 with Paddy Power to defy the odds and finish top but perhaps the greatest intrigue lies not in the title race but the battle to avoid the drop.
This weekend’s fixture list has thrown up some fascinating clashes, not least when Leeds United host fellow strugglers Burnley.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side have had their past two games postponed due to a Covid outbreak and will hope there are no further disruptions as they seek to put the Clarets to the sword.
With England striker Patrick Bamford potentially set for a return after injury, Leeds will bid to start the New Year with a bang.
Victory for Sean Dyche’s Clarets, however, could prove pivotal in the final reckoning next spring.
Burnley are playing catch-up with their fixtures and survival this season would see them clinch a sixth successive of Premier League at Turf Moor.
Betfred make the Clarets 10/11 to get relegated, with Leeds 3/1 with Betfair to slide back into the Championship after two seasons.
Newcastle United showed some welcome signs in their 1-1 draw at home to Manchester United on Monday, but their position remains perilous.
Much will depend on the Magpies’ ability to significantly bolster their squad during the January transfer window.
Norwich City appear doomed but another team in huge trouble right now is Watford.
Claudio Ranieri’s men have lost their last five Premier League games – and seven of their last eight – to slide towards the drop zone at pace.
The Hornets are wobbling alarmingly and struggling for confidence ahead of the visit of in-form Tottenham Hotspur on New Year’s Day.
With Newcastle likely to strengthen, Leeds due to be boosted by the return of several key men in the coming weeks and Burnley notoriously gritty when it comes to scrapping for survival, Watford could be one of the teams to fall through the relegation trapdoor.
William Hill and a number of other bookies make the Hornets a tempting 4/6 to be playing Championship football next term.