WE'RE entering the home stretch of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League season, and it’s still all to play for at the top of the table, writes Adam LeRoux.
It looks to be a three-horse race for supremacy at the top with Chelsea currently leading the way having tasted defeat just once in their 15 matches so far.
Emma Hayes’ side have produced some wonderful football so far this season, with defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion earlier in the month the only blot on their copybook thus far.
— Barclays FA Women's Super League (@BarclaysFAWSL) February 15, 2021
The Blues have responded admirably to that setback at Kingsmeadow by easing past Arsenal and Bristol City in the weeks since, with the Robins put to the sword in a 5-0 display last time out.
A Fran Kirby brace was the catalyst for the five-star showing, with Pernille Harder, Beth England and Sam Kerr also getting on the scoresheet to extend their lead at the top of the table to five points.
Kirby and Kerr have set the standard for Chelsea as they look to retain their title with the pair finding the net 11 times apiece this season, only Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema notching more often with 12.
Not only do Chelsea have the firepower up top to sweep aside all that comes before them, but a resilient backline that has conceded just eight league goals this season with Millie Bright and Magdalena Eriksson at its heart.
It is now Manchester City who are tasked with keeping pace with the leaders, after Gareth Taylor’s side claimed a priceless 3-0 victory over arch rivals Manchester United on Friday night.
Lucy Bronze opened the scoring for City midway through the first-half with a well-taken volley after the Red Devils failed to clear a corner, before Lauren Hemp made it two with 20 minutes left to play.
But the best was saved until last as Caroline Weir picked the ball up 20 yards from goal, turned on a sixpence and lofted the ball over Mary Earps in the visitors’ net.
— Barclays FA Women's Super League (@BarclaysFAWSL) February 13, 2021
Like Chelsea, the Citizens have tasted defeat just once this season, and find themselves five points adrift with a game in hand, with the meeting between the two in late April looking like a title decider.
After a terrific start to the current campaign United have started to drift of the pace late with three defeats in their last five.
A 2-1 defeat to Chelsea in January was the first time Casey Stoney’s side dropped points in a league match all season, but consecutive defeats to Reading and City have left them six points shy of the summit.
Completing the top four is Joe Montemurro’s Arsenal, who find themselves 15 points from top spot with two games in hand.
A winless run of three games has all but ended the Gunners’ chances of getting their hands on the FA WSL trophy for a fourth time, with defeats to City and Chelsea within three days of each other leaving them playing catch-up.
That hasn’t stopped two-time Golden Boot winner Miedema from finding the net with an unerring regularity, the Dutch star scoring 12 in Arsenal’s 13 league matches this campaign.
With league action resuming at the end of the month, the teams now have some time to regroup ahead of what promises to be a frantic end to the season.
City will get the chance to play their game in hand against Birmingham before Chelsea take to the field again, meaning there could be just two points between the pair when the Blues travel to West Ham to continue their search for a second successive title.