WSL derby double could decide thrilling title race as Chelsea aim for Arsenal revenge
the derby double stands between Chelsea and a fourth consecutive Women’s Super League title on Sunday.
Beat London rivals Arsenal at Kingsmeadow, and if Manchester United fail to topple Manchester City then the crown will be Chelsea’s – and with one game still to play.
Chelsea edged United 1-0 at Wembley last weekend for a third successive FA Cup triumph, then beat West Ham aside 4-0 on Wednesday to clinch that final tilt of the League title.
“There is no big secret, I trust the whole team, I believe in the whole team,” Blues boss Emma Hayes said. “I use players throughout the season and as a result they have confidence when you need them.”
Chelsea’s rotation policy can be deployed on the League’s top scorers list, with Sam Kerr the only double-digit Blues star for the campaign, although Hayes’ side have still scored more times than anyone else.
Pernille Harder, Guro Reiten, Fran Kirby, Erin Cuthbert and Lauren James have all scored five or more League goals this term, with Chelsea sharing the burden as well as the applause.
Chelsea’s quest for the Holy Grail of the Champions League continues, but Hayes’ side have turned masterful to dominate domestically.
Timing proved it all, with the Blues returning to the top of the table this week after catching up with their games in hand to deliver yet another psychological blow to their title rivals. Hayes will naturally play it down, but this rotation of squads has proven vital to their progress, especially alongside cup commitments at home and in Europe.
Eliminating West Ham so easily just days after lifting the FA Cup was a much harsher prospect than Chelsea were letting on. “It’s so overwhelming, the number of people you meet at Wembley,” Hayes said. “It’s the most tiring element, the brains are tired.”
Arsenal fired early this term with the 3-1 Continental Cup final win over Chelsea, and will be looking to spoil another Blues party in west London on Sunday.
Third-placed Jonas Eidevall’s side are just three points clear of fourth-placed City, so the Gunners will have just as keen an eye on Sunday night’s battle in Manchester as the Blues.
United trail Chelsea by two points with as many games to play, so Marc Skinner’s side will no doubt be short of extra motivation against their City rivals.
Chelsea have the mental muscle memory of three straight League wins to rest on this weekend. If Skinner’s side falter now, the Blues’ final day trip to Reading will be turned into a victory lap.