The WSL title race

Four teams are battling it out to be crowned The Women’s Super League (WSL) Champions and secure a place in the famous Champions League.

As time is counting down to the end of the season, with five games remaining, the title race is proving to be one of the most competitive league finishes since the formation of the WSL in 2011. Just four points separates the top four places and only three Champions League spots to play for.

Coming into the season as defending champions, many people believe that its Chelsea title to lose, despite being the only side still fighting on three separate fronts of the four teams challenging for WSL honours. The Blues have two tough fixtures before turning their attention back to the WSL. Chelsea will face Liverpool, with the semi-final to play against Aston Villa in the FA Cup and the first-leg in the Champions League against Barcelona at home. Chelsea will be heading into the FA Cup semi-final with confidence having beaten Villa 3-0 in their previous fixture.

Emma Hayes side have played a total of 16 games, winning 13, drawing one and losing two.  Chelsea have a scored 42 goals but have not been struggling in defence having conceded 14.

Chelsea has the squad depth and talent to remain a difficult side to beat. However, the amount of fixtures Emma Hayes’ side has to play has caused a dilemma with the team selection for the Chelsea manager.

 Fran Kirby and Pernille Harder are still unfit so will not be included in the squad. However, the biggest loss to the Chelsea side is defender and captain Millie Bright. Bright recently withdrew from the England squad for their fixtures against Brazil and Australia, leaving the club doubting the speed of her return.

Chelsea will be hoping to strengthen their chances to get into the top three heading into the last five games as the favourites.

Arsenal are third in the WSL

In recent years, Arsenal have been one of the only teams to challenge Chelsea in the WSL. However, this season, they are sat in third place on level points with Manchester City. The Gunners have played 16 games, winning 12, drawing two and losing two games. While managing to score 40 goals but have the second-best defensive record having only conceded 10 goals in the season. However, injuries to the Gunners’ main goal-scoring pairing Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema have proved to be a huge loss for the side.

Despite being knocked out of the FA Cup from a 2-0 defeat by Chelsea. Jonas Eidevalls side are still in the fight to win the Champions League after beating Bayern Munich 2-1 on aggregate. Following on from their victory against Bayern, Arsenal came from behind to beat Manchester City 2-1.

Manchester United sit top of the WSL

A newly formed Manchester United, under Mark Skinner, sit at the top of the WSL. Albeit just a point above the defending champions. Yet its not doubt that recent performances have shown that they more than deserve to be there. The Red Devils have played a total of 17 games, winning 13, drawing two and losing just two.

Mark Skinner’s side have shown to be a threat in front of goal with Russo, Galton, Garcia and other members of the squad all contributing to the 46 goals scored. But have also proved to be solid defensively having conceded only nine goals so far this season.

Last match, Brighton suffered the wrath of Manchester United’s attacking prowess. Falling victims to a 4-0 demolition from the Red Devils. Leah Galton scored a brace before Skinner once again showed the strength in depth as substitutes (Rachel Williams and Lucia Garcia) were also on the scoresheet.

Joseph Nelsen, a freelance journalist for Manchester United, said:

The chances are of course high with where they are, but Marc Skinner’s message has been clear throughout the season – ‘one game at a time’. They are in a good position but always striving for consistency. If they keep that consistency, they’ve got as good a chance as anyone of achieving their aims.

Further indicating the hunger and desire that the red side of Manchester have to win silverware. Despite this mentality, United are not without their injury concerns as they lost defender, Maria Thorisdottir, to a foot injury. An injury that means she will miss the rest of the season.

United will be looking to do the double over Arsenal in the WSL fixture on the 19th April, having beaten the Gunners 3-2 in the reverse fixture.

Manchester City are level on points with Arsenal.

The emergence of Manchester United has added further pressure to those in the title race and Manchester City didn’t start the season how they had hoped. The Cityzens lost their opening two fixtures in the league campaign. Losing Georgia Stanway and Kiera Walsh in the transfer window was a huge blow for City as they lost two creative playmakers in the midfield.

City have won 13 games, drawn two and lost three only managing to score 35 and conceding 16 goals.

In that time, they got knocked out of the FA cup by Aston Villa 2-1 and lost 1-0 to Real Madrid in the Champions League. As a result, Gareth Taylor’s side must place all their attention into winning the WSL.

If Manchester United remain in the form they are, they have every chance to top the WSL. Behind United, rivals Manchester City could also gain Champions League spots along with Arsenal.

Author: Stacey Marsh

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