by Andrew Crawshaw
With only one week left in the season nothing is yet decided at the top of the table. The champions will either be Chelsea or Arsenal and the final Champions League place will be either Manchester City or United. Birmingham City are odds on to be relegated but it is not yet a mathematical certainty.
This last weekend’s matches saw Arsenal thump Aston Villa by seven goals to nil, Chelsea maintained their place at the top of the table courtesy of a penalty for handball against a Birmingham defender – to be fair it was an obvious handball and the referee would have been wrong not to have awarded it. Manchester City also scored seven against Brighton in the Saturday game but conceded two and Manchester United had a clear 3 – 0 win against West Ham.
This coming week there are two midweek games both on Wednesday evening. Manchester City play bottom of the table Birmingham at 19:00 and we play Spurs at the Emirates in a 19:15 kickoff. Tickets are still available and the match is being shown live in the UK on BBC2.
Here is the current league table :-
The League winners qualify directly into the knockout stage of the Champions League, The second place team goes into the group stage and the third place team has to play in the qualifying rounds. The bottom team will be relegated and replaced next season by Liverpool who won the Championship with a couple of games to spare.
In the earlier kickoff on Wednesday I would be shocked if Man City don’t beat Birmingham comfortably and confirm their relegation.
We need to beat Spurs to maintain our hopes of winning the League and, despite the media talking up the North London rivalry nonsense, should be quite capable of achieving that. In the Men’s game there is a real and longstanding inter-club rivalry but it really isn’t there yet between the Women’s trams.
This season we have scored nearly three goals for every one they have, and have let in half what they have conceded. We have won 15 to their 8 and lost 1 to their 7. Over the last three seasons, which is all the time they have been in the elite division of Women’s football, the head to head record in all matches is:-
|25 August 2019||Friendly||H||W||6 – 0|
|17 November 2019||WSL||A||W||0 – 2|
|26 September 2020||FA Cup||H||W||4 – 0|
|18 October 2020||WSL||H||W||6 – 1|
|18 Nov 2020||League Cup||H||W||2 – 2 (4– 3 on pens)|
|27 March 2021||WSL||A||W||0 – 3|
|8 August 2021||Friendly||A||W||0 – 4|
|29 September 2021||FA Cup||H||W||5 – 1|
|13 November 2021||WSL||A||D||1 – 1|
So eight wins and one draw and no losses for Arsenal, albeit the draw was earlier this season. We have outscored Spurs by 27 goals to five (excluding those in the penalty shootout in November 2020).
Whilst the Emirates is probably not the Women’s true home ground, they have played there often enough now to feel quite at home and I’m sure will be loudly supported by a sizeable crowd.
The team for recent matches has been reasonably stable. Brazilian Centre Back Rafaelle has had an injury and has been ably replaced by Lotte Wubben-Moy. Tobin Heath has had an injury-ravaged season since arriving last summer on a one year deal, she has now left the club by mutual consent and has returned to the USA. Jordan Nobbs left the field on Sunday in tears following a knee injury and will definitely not be available for this week. There is some speculation that she may have played her last game for Arsenal.
I would expect our team to be
Noëlle Maritz, Leah Williamson, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Steph Catley
Leah Wälti, Kim Little
Katie McCabe, Caitlin Foord, Beth Mead
Lydia Williams (GK), Hermione Cull (GK), Jen Beattie, Simone Boye-Sørensen, Lauraa Wienroither, Frida Maanum, Stina Blackstenius, Nikita Parris
Score prediction Spurs 1 Arsenal 3
The final round of matches all kick off at 12:00 on Sunday and are:-
West Ham v Arsenal – I would expect us to beat West Ham reasonably comfortably.
Spurs v Leicester – Spurs should win their game against Leicester (who have the worst defensive record in the League). Unless Birmingham pull off a miracle on Wednesday against Man City, Leicester can’t be relegated so I think are safe.
Reading v Man City – Man City should beat Reading, if that happens and they also win on Wednesday they will get the third Champions League slot despite anything that Man United can do.
Chelsea v Man United – Man United have to beat Chelsea to stand any chance of pipping Man City to the last CL slot. They have to deprive Chelsea of three points for us to win the league and so I’ll be rooting for them although more in hope than expectation as I think that Chelsea playing in front of their home support will be too strong and will win.
Brighton v Everton – Two teams safe from relegation and with little to chose between them I would think a draw is the most probable result
Aston Villa v Birmingham – The outcome of this match may well depend on the result of Birmingham’s mid-week game against Man City. Five points from second bottom team Leicester nothing else but two wins are enough for Birmingham to survive in the WSL. Throughout the season they haven’t had the quality in their squad to remain in the WSL, they have rarely shown enough attacking intent to win games. I would expect Villa to bounce back from their thrashing last weekend by Arsenal to edge a low scoring match.
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