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Women´s Super League: All to play for with three weeks to go

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 25 Apr 2024

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With just three matchweeks to go in the Women’s Super League, it really is all to play for.

Manchester City lead the pack, three points ahead of rivals Chelsea. The Blues have a game in hand so can even things up, but are also behind the Citizens on both goal difference and goals scored.

Bristol City are all but down and will drop to the Championship if they lose at home to Man City and West Ham can get a win at Aston Villa, with both of those matches taking place on Sunday.

Arsenal, meanwhile, travel to Everton for the early kick-off. The Gunners have won each of their last 16 WSL games against Everton, the joint-longest winning run by a team against a single opponent in the competition’s history (Manchester City also managed 16 against Everton).

Jonas Eidevall’s side will be buoyant after securing Champions League qualification for next season, but they have not given up on chasing down the leaders, as they start the weekend six points off the pace.

Arsenal’s form on the road has been the chink in their armour this season. Three of Arsenal’s WSL defeats this term have come away from home (versus Tottenham, West Ham and Chelsea), though the Gunners haven’t lost outside of London in the competition since April 2023, in a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United, going eight unbeaten since then (seven wins, one draw).

The Toffees, however, are also in good spirits after beating Brighton 2-1 last time out. Everton will be looking to win successive WSL games for just the second time this season. Four of their five wins this campaign have now come away from home, however.

One to watch in this encounter will be Beth Mead, who is finding the form that she was displaying before suffering the anterior cruciate ligament injury which kept her out for almost 12 months.

Mead has scored four goals in her last two WSL appearances, netting braces against both Bristol City and Leicester City. This is only the second time the England star has done so in back-to-back outings in the competition, also doing so for Sunderland in July 2015 (versus Chelsea and Bristol City).

Elsewhere, Tottenham host Brighton in a mid-table clash. Tottenham are unbeaten in four previous home games against Brighton in WSL play (three wins, one draw), drawing this fixture 2-2 last season at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

They will be looking to build momentum ahead of next month’s FA Cup final against Manchester United, but the Seagulls could provide them with a stern test.

Brighton are unbeaten in their last three away WSL games (two wins, one draw), their longest-ever streak on the road in the competition; the Seagulls have scored 10 goals in four away games under Mikey Harris.

Aston Villa welcome West Ham to Villa Park, having struggled to hit the heights they reached last season. Winless in their last three WSL games (one draw, two defeats), Villa are on their longest run without victory since losing their opening five league matches of the season.

The Hammers are teetering on the brink of the relegation zone, but a win against Villa would secure their WSL status for another season.

No side in the WSL this season has scored fewer goals than West Ham (17), whilst they are one of only two sides in the competition – alongside Arsenal – to be underperforming their expected goals (xG) figures, scoring their 17 goals from chances with an xG total of 20.7 (-3.7).

Another reason why they find themselves in such a precarious position is they have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last eight away WSL games (one win, one draw, six defeats), the second-longest ongoing streak in the competition, behind only Bristol City (21).

Despite securing a place in the FA Cup final, Mark Skinner’s Manchester United team have found this campaign a challenge after being so prominent in last season’s title race.

The Red Devils began the season with doubts over the future of their star shot-stopper Mary Earps, with United rejecting a world-record offer from Arsenal for her services.

Earps is United’s leading-appearance maker in the Women’s Super League and could play her 100th game in the competition for the Red Devils this weekend; since her debut for the club in September 2019, the England international has recorded more clean sheets in the top flight than any other goalkeeper (45).

Leicester, United’s opponents on Sunday, are looking to change their fortunes but have lost their last two games and could lose three in a row for the first time since December 2022 (a run of five).

Manchester City will look to go six points clear of Chelsea in the final game of the weekend. Chelsea are not in action until midweek due to their involvement in the Champions League semi-finals, with the Blues taking a 1-0 first-leg lead over Barcelona into Saturday’s second leg at Stamford Bridge.

The Citizens know they need to keep their foot on the throttle as they pursue their first WSL title since 2016, a drought Gareth Taylor’s team are keen to end.

Their striker Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw leads the WSL scoring charts this season with 21 goals to her name. However, she limped off last time out and it is thought she may now miss the rest of the campaign through injury. Since the start of last season, she has recorded 51 WSL goal contributions – the most of any player (41 goals, 10 assists).

City will also be keen to further boost their goal tally as the title race could come down to goals scored, should Chelsea win their games in hand and both sides match each other’s results for the rest of the season.

City have scored in each of their last 18 away WSL games (38 goals), the longest such streak they’ve ever managed in the competition’s history.

Taylor’s side have been ruthless this campaign, scoring 54 goals, with the likes of Lauren Hemp, Mary Fowler, Chloe Kelly and Jess Park all contributing. Only Shaw (24) has recorded more combined goals and assists than Hemp (15) in 2023-24.

Bristol City are the team tasked with stopping Taylor’s juggernaut, and the Robins have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last 29 WSL games, the longest such run any side has ever endured in the competition’s history.

With the title race as close as ever and bottom clubs still fighting for survival, it promises to be another exciting weekend in the WSL.

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