Heading into this weekend's round of fixtures everything seemed pretty clear-cut at the top of the table. Manchester United were looking for a fifth-straight win over Arsenal which would leave them with one hand firmly grasping the Premier League trophy.
However, freed from the pressures of actually winning anything, Arsenal managed to not only take a deserved lead against the Red Devils but also not throw it away. Their 1-0 win at the Emirates has made things very interesting at the summit of the league.
Courtesy of their 2-1 win over Tottenham, Chelsea will now rock up at Old Trafford next Sunday for what is virtually a straight shoot-out for the right to lead the league with two games to go, quite incredible considering the defending champions winter slump.
A United win would see them go six points clear, while a Chelsea victory would see them go top on goal difference. Should the latter happen and the Gunners win at Stoke then Arsene Wenger's side will also be just three points behind.
It was a hugely morale-boosting victory for the Gunners, especially coming as it did without Cesc Fabregas on the pitch at all. After carelessly dropping points against Bolton, Tottenham, Blackburn and West Brom in recent weeks - not to mention Sunderland, Newcastle and Tottenham (again) earlier in the year - they really do not deserve to be in with a shout of the title at all, but the fact they are indeed still involved three games from the end of the season perfectly illustrates just how barmy this season has been.
Not that United boss Alex Ferguson had much time the step back and appreciate such a potentially thrilling title race denouement. He was far too busy taking a leaf out of Jose Mourinho's book on conspiracy theories to revel in such thrills.
United were denied a clear penalty late on as substitute Michael Owen had his calf stepped on by Gael Clichy, only for the unsighted referee to wave play on.
"We're not going to get the decisions in these big games, I'm afraid," he said, conveniently forgetting Nemanja Vidic's blatant first-half handball inside the United box which was ignored by the same linesman who ignored Clichy's mistake, which was so foolish that Wenger should hand the left-back a three-match ban himself even if the authorities won't.
Chelsea are now firmly on United's coat-tails after they beat Spurs 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday courtesy of being awarded a goal that had not fully crossed the line after Heurelho Gomes latest goalkeeping aberration, before Salomon Kalou scored a late winner even though he was a shade offside. Needless to say, that did not go down well with Fergie.
"It gives Chelsea a major chance now. They got great decisions on Saturday," he added. "We never seem to get these kinds of decisions. They seem to be getting them." Four words for you Fergie: Pedro, Mendes, Roy and Carroll.
With the three clubs at the top of the table so close, plus Liverpool continuing their remarkable resurgence by moving up to fifth, Manchester City actually producing an exciting display at Eastlands for once and just three points separating the bottom four teams, it looks like we are in for some finish.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "With the Andy Carroll factor as well it maybe added some spice for them. I don't think it (the abuse) will be put to bed. When he goes to St James' next season he will get it again. He is a young boy but he has broad shoulders." - Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish expects his striker to get more stick from Newcastle fans when he returns to his former club next season after he was booed by Toon fans on Sunday at Anfield. Fair enough. After all, he had the temerity to land £35 million in their club's coffers with his January move. How does he sleep at night?
FOREIGN VIEW: UEFA have reacted to Jose Mourinho's conspiracy rant by appointing Belgian referee Franck de Bleeckere for the second leg of their Champions League semi-final with Barcelona. De Bleeckere was named by Mourinho in his post-match tirade last week after he sent off Internazionale's Thiago Motta at the Nou Camp last season. Nice to see someone in Nyon has a sense of humour.
Paul Parker will be giving his verdict on the weekend's action in his latest blog, while later today you can follow live coverage of the day's two clashes in the Championship: Cardiff City v Middlesbrough (17:15) and Portsmouth v Norwich City (19:45).
- Manchester United