Will Manchester City extend an already dominant era or can Arsenal’s upstarts stay clear of the field and complete what would be a remarkable triumph?

It has been a Premier League season of distractions, pop-up windows and one vast and disorientating hiatus. Exactly 34 weeks have passed since Arsenal kicked things off with a Friday night trip to Crystal Palace, a week before temperatures in London hit 34 degrees, four months before Lionel Messi was draped in a propaganda cape in Qatar, a month before Liz Truss was sworn in as temp-to-perm prime minister. Is that story still this story? Is there an actual narrative arc here? Did somebody win the league in between and we’ve all just forgotten and carried on?

The good news, as March folds into April, is that we do now have some clarity. After that hungover summer start; after the fever dream of a northern winter World Cup, an entirely disjointed digression like an hour-long magic realist segue in an annoying arthouse film; after the jet-lagged Christmas restart, and now the weary what-now of a spring international break. After all that, the season is now primed not just for a genuine title race, but for an uncluttered run to the finish.

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