As we near the end of the league season there is still much to be decided within the top tiers of women’s football. In this series of articles, I want to look at those hopeful of winning their respective division and those who are fighting for promotion. In part one, I focus on the summit of the women’s football pyramid, the Barclays Women’s Super League (WSL).
This year we have the most open and widely competitive title race in my recent memory. And as it stands, the top four teams, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City are separated by just three points, noting that Arsenal and Chelsea have a game in hand on their rivals.
Manchester United are arguably in the best position as they have their points on the board already.
There is an argument that both Chelsea and Manchester United are in the driving seat but that depends on your perspective. Personally, I would feel much more positive if I was a Chelsea fan. Their run-in is much kinder, they have to play Liverpool (h), Everton (h), Arsenal (h), Reading (a), West Ham (a) and Leicester City (h).
You would say that all bar one of those are safe Chelsea wins. Their rivals will be hoping that Emma Hayes’ side reaches the UEFA Champions League (UWCL) final as that could potentially prove a distraction and lead to an upset somewhere, although I am not quite sure where that would be, maybe Everton or West Ham.
Marc Skinner’s United must overcome Liverpool (a), Man City (h), Spurs (h), Villa (a) and Arsenal (h). I think that they have momentum and will also be full of confidence due to their FA Cup run, a run which should see them reaching their first-ever Women’s FA Cup final. Being neutral on this, it would be nice to see a new name on the WSL trophy.
Like Man United, Arsenal has a tricky run-in, we’ve mentioned they face United and Chelsea, so Jonas Eidevall’s side will have a huge impact on where the trophy ends up. The rest of their fixtures should be routine wins for them – Leicester City (h), Brighton (a), Chelsea (a), Aston Villa (h) and Everton (a).
A fully fit squad and I would be a bit more positive about the Gunners chances of securing their first league title since 2018/19. I also believe that they are favourites to beat Wolfsburg so the distraction of UWCL might also impact their progress domestically.
Last up are Gareth Taylor’s Man City. They have had a rotten season in the cup competitions so the league is their final opportunity for silverware, plus they will be desperate not to finish outside of the UWCL places, especially at the expense of bragging rights over their rivals Man United.
Their league run in sees them face West Ham United (h), Reading (h), Liverpool (a), Man United (a) and Everton (h). With the form of Bunny Shaw, I think they will be too strong in their remaining matches, although in my predictor I have them losing the Manchester derby.
I have looked at the remaining fixtures and toted my predicted points total for each team and I see the table finishing like this, Chelsea on top with 58 points, followed by Manchester United (54 points), Arsenal (51 points) and Manchester City (50 points).
I cannot see any scenario where the title doesn’t end up back at Kingsmeadow but with United, Arsenal and City all having big six-pointers against each other I am open to the UWCL places looking slightly different.
I am someone who has always been a bit down on the competitiveness of the WSL and while these top four are far and away above everyone else, this title race is exciting and something that I am relishing.
Looking down the race for survival is just as tight and is likely to be settled when Leicester City take on Brighton & Hove Albion unless the seagulls can find some form in their two games in hand over the Foxes. If that match isn’t screen live then I’m going to riot all the way to the FA Player offices.
Feel free to let me know what you think over on Twitter and keep en eye out later this week for my Championship preview.