by Andrew Crawshaw
After our draw last weekend against Manchester United we remain top of the WSL. Chelsea are second, two points behind us but with a game in hand. This game is therefore the epitome of a “six pointer”
Here is the current table
The top three teams at the end of the season qualify for next season’s Champions League (the team in third have to play additional games, first goes into the last 16 and second go into the group stage). The bottom team is relegated being replaced by the winner of the Championship (currently being led by Liverpool).
Here are the remaining games for both teams this season
|Chelsea v Arsenal – Fri 11 Feb|
|Arsenal v Reading – Wed 2 Mar|
|Arsenal v Birmingham – Sun 6 Mar||West Han v Chelsea – Sun 6 Mar|
|Brighton v Arsenal – Sun 13 Mar||Chelsea v Aston Villa – Sun 13 Mar|
|Everton v Chelsea – Wed 16 Mar|
|Chelsea v Spurs – Wed 23 Mar|
|Arsenal v Spurs – Sun 27 Mar||Leicester v Chelsea – Sun 27 Mar|
|Leicester v Arsenal – Sun 3 Apr||Chelsea v Reading – Sun 3 April|
|Everton v Arsenal – Sun 24 April||Spurs v Chelsea – Sun 24 Apr|
|Arsenal v Aston Villa – Sun 1 May||Birmingham v Chelsea – Sun 1 May|
|West Ham v Arsenal – Sun 8 May||Chelsea v Man United Sun 8 May|
In normal circumstances, I would expect us to win comfortably against all but Chelsea and Spurs. The Spurs game will present us with a sterner test but one that we should be able to win.
Chelsea have been the strongest team in the league for some years and probably still are. We beat them in the opening game of the season where our early start in the Champions League qualifying rounds stood us in good stead in terms of match fitness (plus a slice of good fortune with one of our goals when Beth Mead looked offside but this wasn’t spotted by the Assistant Referee).
I would normally regard any points against them as being a good result. Since that game Chelsea have only conceded a further three goals in the league a clear sign of the miserliness of their defence. They also completely outplayed us in the final of last year’s FA Cup final winning 3 – 0 at a canter.
The potentially difficult games for Chelsea other than Arsenal are home and away against Spurs. They will probably win the home game but I would like to think that possibly Spurs will be able to get a point in their home match.
As I said in the title the game this Friday evening is a real six-pointer. In all probability whichever team wins will go on to win the League. Even a draw for Arsenal will probably not be enough as we would still rely on Chelsea dropping points somewhere.
All of this supposes that we start to reproduce our early season form as our recent games have been well below that level. Key players have not been fit and some of the backup players seem not to be at a similar level. Our passing has been ponderous and predictable with the exception of occasional flashes of brilliance ( Miedema’s pass to Blackstenius for the equaliser against Man City was probably the best assist of the season)
Our Head Coach, Jonas Eidevall, says at the moment his sole focus is on the next game and he is not in the least concerned about who is the favourite for the title. He added that there’ll be changes in how he wants us to approach the game following the Cup Final defeat. He says that we will be looking to win the game and not be afraid of losing.
With virtually a full squad available (Katie McCabe is suspended following her sending off against United last week) we undoubtedly have the players to hurt Chelsea if we play to our strengths.
Best available starting eleven (assuming everyone if fully fit)
Noëlle Maritz, Leah Williamson, Rafaelle Souza, Steph Catley
Leah Walti, Kim Little, Jordan Nobbs
Beth Mead, Vivianne Miedema, Stina Blackstenius
Lydia Williams (GK), Lotte Wubben-Moy, Jen Beattie, Laura Wienrother, Frida Maanum, Mana Iwabuchi, Nikita Parris, Caitlin Foord, Tobin Heath.
The game is at Chelsea’s Kingsmeadow ground and is fully sold out. Kickoff is 19:45 and it is being shown live on Sky Sports in the UK. It will also be on the FA Player outside the UK so you should be able to pick it up worldwide.
Despite Jonas’s reluctance to look ahead a win puts us in prime position to win the league this season, anything else hands the advantage to Chelsea.
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