Wednesday, April 17, 2024

WSL talking points: Manchester City to steal march on Chelsea and move top? Arsenal to bounce back live on Sky? -Dlight News

Man City with chance to go top

Saturday represents a chance for Man City to ascend Chelsea’s throne, temporarily at least. Gareth Taylor’s side would go top by beating local rivals Manchester United at the Etihad, before the reigning champions play a day later. It’s always an advantage to go first.

City were superb against Brighton last week, winning 4-1, and look intent on finishing the league season strongly after crashing out of both cup competitions the week prior. The WSL is City’s only saviour, and single hope of silverware.

Opta gives them a 32.9 per cent chance of beating Chelsea to the title, which feels low considering both sides are locked on 40 points, but their run-in is infinitely harder with a derby still to contest and a meeting with Arsenal to negotiate in early May.

A derby win on Saturday would be the first time City have got the better of their neighbours twice in a league campaign, having already triumphed 3-1 at Old Trafford.

It would also be a considerable blow for Marc Skinner, who will be celebrating his 100th WSL game in charge of United. Of all managers to have overseen 100+ games, Skinner’s win record can only be bettered by Nick Cushing and Emma Hayes.

Chelsea look unstoppable – Live on Sky


Sunday 24th March 4:00pm


Kick off 4:30pm


Watch out, imperious Chelsea are on the charge. Fresh from beating Ajax 3-0 midweek, and putting one foot in the Champions League semis, the Blues travel to east London to take on West Ham on Sunday.

Their relentless schedule shows no signs of slowing but Hayes appears to have an answer for every challenge thrown Chelsea’s way.

Mirroring Friday’s impressive win over Arsenal, Lauren James scored the opener in Amsterdam before Sjoeke Nusken found the net twice as Chelsea secured a fifth win in 16 days – five games into their eight in March. April looks busy too.

Sjoeke Nusken celebrates with team-mates after scoring Chelsea's second goal against Ajax
Image:
Sjoeke Nusken scored twice as Chelsea beat Ajax 3-0 on Tuesday

Should they maintain this formidable form, a historic quadruple is well and truly on. The Blues have won each of their last three away outings in the league without conceding, that’s despite suffering a heavy casualty list: Sam Kerr, Mia Fishel, Mayra Ramirez, Millie Bright, Natalie Bjorn and Maren Mjelde are among those sidelined.

That matters less when you have the depth of quality Chelsea have, though. There has been a huge step up from James this season – only Khadija Shaw (16) has scored more WSL goals than the Chelsea starlet (13) – while Nusken, Johanna Rytting Kaneryd and Melanie Leupolz have also been standout.

Villa will test Arsenal’s bounce back – Live on Sky


Sunday 24th March 6:30pm


Kick off 6:45pm


Arsenal’s flat performance against Chelsea last week got people talking. The Gunners were put to task, and yet, all the pre-match chatter centred on how Jonas Eidevall’s side had the edge, quality and personnel to derail Chelsea’s quadruple bid. The reality was far from it.

Arsenal were beaten 3-1 by Chelsea in front of a record Stamford Bridge crowd
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Arsenal were beaten 3-1 by Chelsea in front of a record Stamford Bridge crowd

Arsenal were torn apart by a severely depleted Chelsea XI, conceding three times in 32 first-half minutes to all but end their chances of WSL glory this season. It was a performance that highlighted most, if not all, of Arsenal’s frailties, underpinned by weak defensive shape, giant gaps in midfield and poor game management.

An error-strewn first 45 minutes essentially put the result beyond them with Eidevall accepting post-match his side “played into Chelsea’s hands”. This week will test how much stuffing has been knocked out with a trip to Aston Villa, live on Sky Sports.

Any further mistakes opens the door to Manchester United and Liverpool, both six points behind, in the race for Champions League football. To surrender a European spot as this late stage would be devastating for the north Londoners, meaning immediate bounce back is an absolute must.

Reds have Europe in sight

A top-four finish would have been a stretch target for Liverpool at the start of this season – their second top-flight campaign after earning promotion in 2022. But with six games to go, the prospect is a very real possibility.

Finishing fourth does not earn you anything tangible in the WSL but would be hugely significant for Matt Beard’s side after a turbulent few years, which saw them spend two seasons in the Championship.

The Reds have now equalled their second-highest WSL points tally after beating West Ham last weekend. Big strides. In fact, the last time Liverpool amassed more points than they have now they won the league, albeit the standard has dramatically increased since 2013.

Next is up a Merseyside derby, where a win, should other results also fall kindly, would be good enough to leapfrog Man United. Double sweet.

Sunday will be the third time the two halves of Liverpool have met in competitive action this season, with the balance delicately poised at one win each, although it’s Everton who boast the most recent league triumph – a 1-0 victory back in October.

WSL fixtures this weekend

March 23: Manchester City vs Manchester United, kick-off 12.30pm

March 24: Everton vs Liverpool, kick-off 1pm

March 24: Bristol City vs Tottenham, kick-off 2pm

March 24: Leicester vs Brighton, kick-off 3pm

March 24: West Ham vs Chelsea, live on Sky Sports Football, kick-off 4.30pm

March 24: Aston Villa vs Arsenal, live on Sky Sports Football, kick-off 6.45pm

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