Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes his side's chances of winning the Premier League title have fallen to 50 per cent after defeat at Manchester United on Sunday.
"We didn't play a good game and United deserved to win the game. They showed more desire, more ambition, more motivation to win," he said after the 2-0 loss.
"It is very simple but in this case the fault is of the coach. It means the coach wasn't able to transfer the right concentration, desire, ambition to win this type of game.
"We have to think that there are six finals from now until the end. The league is open and we have a 50 per cent probability to win the league."
With, on paper at least, a much easier run-in and a four-point cushion over second-place Tottenham, 50 per cent would appear a little pessimistic.
So we asked our football reporters for their thoughts on how balanced - or unbalanced - the title race is and their thoughts on Conte's mind games. Here's what they said:
Despite the loss to Manchester United – and almost as damaging was the performance – Chelsea remain favourites although they cannot hit the finishing line soon enough. Antonio Conte is right - Tottenham Hotspur are the Premier League’s best team at the moment and some of his key players, chiefly Diego Costa, have lost form.
In saying that Spurs have gone on a remarkable run just to get into contention and are still four points behind with six games to play. The pressure has now turned on them, a little, after weeks of no-pressure football.
If Chelsea and Spurs faced the same six opponents in the run-in they Spurs would gain more points. As it is Chelsea’s last half dozen games are kinder - if they can negotiate that tricky away trip to Everton. And that is easier said than done. Lose that and it may well be game on if Spurs can keep winning.
- Verdict: 70:30 in Chelsea’s favour
It’s still about 80-20 in Chelsea’s favour, even if the four point lead is slightly deceptive in that Tottenham’s goal difference is already significantly superior and is likely to stay that way if they do further close the gap. Even so, Spurs still need Chelsea to slip up at least twice and the fixtures make it more likely that Mauricio Pochettino’s team will drop points. Chelsea have four home games in the final run-in, all against teams outside the top eight. It means that the main windows of hope for Tottenham are Chelsea’s away trips to West Bromwich Albion and Everton; but you would still expect at least one win from these matches. Spurs themselves would also have to continue their perfect recent form and, while they will be fully confident of beating Arsenal at home, Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United have not been beaten in the Premier League since October. The title remains Chelsea’s to lose.
- Verdict: 80:20 in Chelsea’s favour
Chelsea are no longer definitely going to win the title because they look more vulnerable now than they have done at any time this season, which is what happens when the tension builds during the run in and you have lost two out of your last four league games.
Having said that, they are still the team most likely to be crowned champions. If the title race really was 50-50, as Antonio Conte claimed over the weekend, then they would be level on points with Tottenham, not four points clear at the top of the table. As well as Manchester United did against them, Chelsea will not play a team as good as Jose Mourinho’s in the Premier League again this season.
Only the home games against Southampton and the trip to Everton look tricky on paper. Conte’s response to the defeat at Old Trafford was astute. He took the blame to shield his players and then tried to put Tottenham under pressure by removing Maurcio Pochettino’s favourite underdogs tag. His team, though, remain favourites. It is Chelsea’s title to lose, rather than Spurs’ to win.
- Verdict: 75:25 in Chelsea's favour
Chelsea's defeat at Old Trafford is threatening a twist ending to rival Line Of Duty but this should only prove a minor wobble.
Antonio Conte's reaction to the potential setback was shrewd, effectively blaming himself, as piling any unnecessary pressure on his players at the squeaky stage could have been disastrous.
Chelsea may lose at Everton on April 30 but their other remaining games are all winnable, against teams such as West Brom, Watford and Sunderland whose seasons are all pretty much over.
Spurs have certainly made it interesting and appear formidable, the best team in the league without question, but those draws away at West Brom, Bournemouth and Sunderland look costly.
Do not underestimate the importance of this weekend's FA Cup semi-final, though, for the winner will throw down a huge marker for the final run-in.
- Verdict: 75:25 in Chelsea's favour
Chelsea have too many title-winners in their squad and, significantly, one in the dug-out too, to bottle this but there is no doubt that defeats by Crystal Palace and Manchester United have exposed defensive flaws that will need to be addressed.
Tottenham are in magnificent form but they have the derby and a trip to West Ham, facing the two clubs who would most delight in derailing them while Chelsea have the security of their points-lead and only trips to Everton and West Brom to worry them. Neither have the type of blistering forward pace that genuinely rattles them.
I'd put Chelsea's chances as high as 90 per cent but they will need significant investment in the summer both up-front and defensively in central areas to make sustainable success at home and in Europe plausible.
- Verdict: 90:10 in Chelsea's favour
Tottenham are flying and may have momentum on their side but Chelsea did the hard work earlier in the season and this late run in north London has simply come too late.
I don't really buy that Chelsea are wobbling or that they are having a worse time than at any other stage this season: remember the first six games, anyone? Antonio Conte dug them out of that hole and he'll fix whatever minor problems they have might have now, too.
Chelsea have been fortunate with injuries all season and Harry Kane's spell out in the autumn will ultimately prove to be where Spurs' title tilt came unstuck.
It has been a memorable campaign at White Hart Lane but Tottenham's run-in is too difficult to overturn a four-point deficit. This has been Chelsea's title for months and it still is.
- Verdict: 90:10 in Chelsea's favour
Chelsea's defeat at Manchester United means their lead at the top of the table is the smallest it has been since mid-December. Tottenham also have a far superior goal difference, and if they can further reduce Chelsea's four-point lead in the next couple of weeks then then Antonio Conte's side could start to feel the heat.
In theory Chelsea have the more straightforward remaining games, but the ease or otherwise of run-ins can be overstated, because when you are struggling to close out a title every match can become agonising. Likewise the momentum of a winning run - like Tottenham's current streak of seven - can make daunting looking matches blissfully straightforward.
That said, Chelsea should have enough to get over the line. In Conte they have a manager experienced enough at the top level to keep the players calm after the recent wobble, and in Eden Hazard they have an individual capable of winning matches even if the team is misfiring.
- Verdict: 60:40 in Chelsea's favour