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Twists in the title tale remain as Man City close the gap

| 22.02.2015

It is at this stage of the season, when things start to become do or die for those with something to play for, when the simple time a football match is scheduled to kick off holds a psychological advantage for a team.

That was certainly true in the latest round of Premier League fixtures, when defending champions Manchester City played in Saturday’s evening kick-off at home to Newcastle.

By the time the players took to the field for the game they already knew that Chelsea, the hare they are chasing in this season’s title race, had already blundered in a 3 o’clock kick-off against relegation threatened Burnley.

Clear in their minds as to the opportunity that lay in front of them, one that would cut their deficit to the Blues back to five points, the Citizens duly went out and handed the Magpies a smarting, winning at a canter, 5-0.

The result isn’t huge in terms of the outright betting for the Premier League, with Chelsea still 1/6 favourites to pick up the silverware, but at 4/1 the chances of Manuel Pellegrini’s men look a whole lot better than before the weekend started.

What aids City’s chances further is that Chelsea had all-important anchor-man Nemanja Matic sent off in their clash with Burnley, which means the Blues will be without their cinder-block defensive shield for three games.

Although only two of those games will be in the league, the significance of his loss is evidenced in the fact the west Londoners have lost more games when the Serbian has been out of the starting lineup than when he hasn’t. Mourinho has also only dared to play five matches without the former Benfica midfielder on the pitch.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.