Women’s Super League: Why this weekend is a must-watch


helsea take on Manchester City this weekend in a fixture that has effectively decided the Women’s Super League in each of the past two seasons. It seems unlikely to be the case this time around.

The Blues have won back-to-back WSL crowns, by two points last year and by a tenth of one the year before, when points-per-game settled a Covid curtailed season.

In both campaigns, Emma Hayes’ side beat City at home and drew the reverse fixture on the road, the difference between the two teams over 180 minutes proving greater than that which separated them in the final table after 22 games.

Winning in Manchester on Sunday, however, is a must for a Chelsea side looking to keep pace in a title race, rather than settle one.

While injuries have decimated City’s squad and contributed to their worst ever start to the WSL season, Chelsea’s great concern is not of internal decline but of the resurgence across London of an Arsenal side who have been rampant under new boss Jonas Eidevall.

The 38-year-old Swede replaced Joe Montemurro this summer and added the talents of Tobin Heath, Nikita Parris and Mana Iwabuchi to a star-studded side conducted by Kim Little and spearheaded by the peerless Vivianne Miedema. Beth Mead is in the form of her life, while home-grown superstar Leah Williamson has, at 24, already been captaining England.

The result is that the Gunners have won six out of six in the WSL to lead Chelsea by three points, and 14 out of 15 in all competitions, Eidevall’s only defeat coming against an all-conquering Barcelona in the Champions League.

But Saturday afternoon’s north London derby against Tottenham marks the start of a run of fixtures which will tell us whether the Gunners are simply riding the crest of a wave, or genuinely are the coming force, capable of taking on the mantle carried by Chelsea last season in conquering at home and challenging abroad.

Spurs and then Manchester United lie in wait in the league, two sides hoping to take advantage of Man City’s decline to challenge for the WSL’s third Champions League spot, while Barcelona come to the Emirates for the tantalising reverse in early December.

In between, it’s Chelsea at Wembley for the final of the FA Cup, delayed from last season.

Victories for both on this showpiece weekend for women’s football would only confirm the suspicion that they’ll be locked together at the end of this one, too.

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