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Who will claim the WSL title?

Who will claim the WSL title?

Two of the biggest clubs in women’s football are locked in a tight WSL title race. Ahead of crucial games this weekend, we bring you up to speed on a thrilling season

By Chris Miller, Feature Writer

Thought the Premier League title race was electrifying? Well, strap in, because things are just as exciting in the Women’s Super League – and there’s a huge weekend of nail-biting action ahead.


Chelsea, the defending champions, and Manchester City have been neck and neck for a while now and neither looks like slowing down. City had an iffy start but they’re now on an incredible streak of wins, while Chelsea aren’t letting injury problems and European games distract them from their goal. With six games left, the two are level on points with Chelsea just ahead on goal difference. It looks very much like the WSL title will go to the final day on 18 May.


And there are plenty of stories elsewhere in the league this season, with impactful new signings, managerial sackings, surprise results and more. Plus there’s the narrative that’s dominated English women’s football for months: the imminent departure of mega-successful Chelsea manager Emma Hayes and the search for her replacement. Will this spur them on to success or put unbearable pressure on them?


With Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea in action live on BBC One and Sky Sports this weekend, it’s a perfect time to get caught up on the season so far. Keep reading as we answer all your WSL 2023/24 questions…


When can I watch the Women’s Super League on TV?

Good question! You can catch all the upcoming pitch action across the following channels:

Manchester City v Manchester United

Saturday 23 March, 12.15pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)


West Ham United v Chelsea

Sunday 24 March, 4pm, Sky Sports Premier League/HD (CH 512/502) + 4.30pm, Sky Sports Football/HD (CH 513/503)


Aston Villa v Arsenal

Sunday 24 March, 4pm, Sky Sports Premier League/HD (CH 512/502) + Sky Sports Football/HD (CH 513/503)


Are Chelsea going to win the league again?

If you looked at their injury list, you’d think not. Forceful England defender Millie Bright has barely played, while talismanic striker Sam Kerr suffered a devastating ACL injury in January – and Mia Fishel, the USA forward brought in as back-up for Kerr, was soon sidelined with the same problem. Mayra Ramírez and Catarina Macário, their other strikers, have also been stricken.


But they certainly didn’t look injury-ravaged when they thumped Arsenal 3-1 last week in a crunch game that probably ended their opponents’ title hopes. Players such as Lauren James, Sjoeke Nüsken and Niamh Charles are in great form, and they’ve been top almost all season. There are nagging doubts, though. With the League Cup final, an ongoing FA Cup campaign and, above all, the Champions League to contend with, can their depleted squad get them over the line in the WSL? The next test comes at West Ham on Sunday.


Will it be City, then?

Since a shock home defeat to Brighton in November, City have been on an irresistible WSL run, winning every single league game including a 7-0 demolition of Tottenham, a 5-1 victory over Liverpool and a potentially crucial 1-0 win at Chelsea. The forward line has been magnificent, with Jamaica striker Khadija “Bunny” Shaw bagging 16 goals and England wingers Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly weighing in with another 13 between them.


They’ve lost creative midfielder Jill Roord to – of course – an ACL injury, but they’re out of both cups and not involved in Europe, so they can focus fully on the title. It’s fair to say they’ve gone from also-rans (fourth last season) to front-runners, but this Saturday’s home derby is one of their toughest remaining games.


Who else has had a good season?

There’s a real success story at Liverpool. Promoted in 2022, this term they’ve really found their WSL feet, with wins over Arsenal, Man Utd and Aston Villa (twice) – all of whom finished above them last season. They made some decent signings last summer, including Norway international striker Sophie Román Haug, but the real key to their success has been ultra-canny manager Matt Beard, who’s made them one of the league’s most resolute teams. After a few years of underperformance, they look a solid top-half side.


Tottenham have also bounced back from a disappointing 2022/23 campaign under new manager Robert Vilahamn, while forward Jutta Rantala and defender Sophie Howard have starred for Leicester as they improved from last year’s 10th place. The two will also face each other in the FA Cup semi-final as they each bid to reach their first final. 


Who will be disappointed?

Manchester United had their best season ever in 2022/23, finishing second and reaching the FA Cup final. While it may have been unrealistic to expect a repeat this year, many of their new signings haven’t cut the mustard and there have been fan grumblings about manager Marc Skinner. Aston Villa looked capable of sustaining a top-three challenge, but it hasn’t materialised. Brighton coach Melissa Phillips lost her job midway through the season as the Seagulls struggled.


And Arsenal fans may have to admit that by their high standards, it’s been a mediocre season. They lost their opening match at home to Liverpool, suffered a first ever defeat to local rivals Tottenham, and were decidedly poor in last week’s defeat to Chelsea. They’ll need to, ahem, pull their socks up when they face the Blues in the League Cup final on Easter Sunday if they’re to avoid a trophyless season. But Champions League qualification looks assured and with a visit to Man City coming up on 5 May, they can still affect the title race.


This season’s star players?

Man City’s Shaw and Chelsea’s James are vying for the accolade of top scorer, and Elisabeth Terland of Brighton should also be mentioned here, having scored 11 in 16 games for a bottom-half team. Young England star Jess Park has impressed when deputising for the injured Roord in City’s midfield, while Scotland defender Jenna Clark proved an excellent signing for Liverpool. Grace Clinton has made her mark in the Spurs midfield on loan from Manchester United and was rewarded with an England debut.


And what does the Emma Hayes-less future look like for Chelsea?

The short answer? No one knows. More than a decade in the manager’s job (six league titles, five FA Cups, two League Cups) has made Hayes synonymous with Chelsea, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role. Hayes made it clear that she thinks her successor should be a woman – perhaps a slight dig at Chelsea’s closest WSL rivals, all coached by men – and Lyon boss Sonia Bompastor has been linked. But whoever it is, they’ll face huge pressure to emulate Hayes’ achievements. Next season could be even more interesting.


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