Manchester City Women: ‘Magic’ win over Chelsea sets WSL title race alight

129149942 748dcbee3c5feaf3ea078ff52197310baa48c30e


Man City manager Gareth Taylor
Man City manager Gareth Taylor earned his first win over Chelsea in 11 attempts

What a title race we have on our hands now in the Women’s Super League.

Following Manchester City’s impressive victory over Chelsea, the top four are separated by only three points.

City and Manchester United are level on points at the summit, however Arsenal and Chelsea have the race in their hands – the Gunners face each of the other three contenders and they – as well as the Blues – have a game in hand.

The battle has been opened wide by City’s victory, which came after manager Gareth Taylor described the fixture as must-win before the game.

His players rose to the task, putting City firmly in the frame for a maiden WSL title.

“If I was sat here and we’d lost, I’d be asking, did I say that?” Taylor said post-match.

“Sometimes when we say things, people take a soundbite and it puts unnecessary pressure on you. However, what I did say was that I think Chelsea will win the title today if we don’t win.

“That’s not to say they still won’t, but if we lost today, at this stage of the season, it’s too much. Now it’s really opened up.”

City had been written off by some after losing their opening two matches of the WSL season, however following their loss to Chelsea on 25 September they have not suffered a defeat inside 90 minutes.

They had been winless in their last 11 WSL games against Chelsea, not winning in the league since 2017, however this performance, and the comfortable win that came with it, has been what Taylor’s side have been quietly building towards for some time.

“I thought it was a really good performance,” Taylor told BBC One. “In the first half, we went after them and forced Chelsea into mistakes – scored both of our goals in terms of putting them under pressure and they are hard to play against.

“Then, it was all about taking care of the final action and we did that really well for the two goals.

“I love working with the girls and they are great. When you have days like today, it makes it magic.”

City impressed all over the pitch, with Lauren Hemp in particular standing out as she assisted Filippa Angeldahl’s wonderfully lofted opener, before slamming home a loose ball for 2-0.

Hemp – who was a doubt for the game with illness – certainly did enough to impress Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinting legend, watching on at Academy Stadium. He asked the Lioness for her shirt after the game.

“Lauren has had an ear infection, she looked so down in the dumps at our pre-match meal,” City defender Esme Morgan said after the game. “She ground away so hard. Usain Bolt asked for her shirt so she must have done something right!”

Now unbeaten in 14 league matches, winning 12, the confidence is clearly coursing through the City side.

“Manchester City won their battles all over the pitch,” former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis said on BBC One.

“It was all about how City started, how they managed the game and how they saw it out. City were exceptional today, Chelsea were not, and that’s how they came out as winners.”

Hayes: Chelsea were sluggish

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes and Lauren James
Emma Hayes took Lauren James and Sophie Ingle off as she made tactical changes in the first half

While City were at their best, Chelsea were well off the pace as they failed to score for the first time in 24 WSL games and suffered their first league loss since the opening match of the season.

The injuries are starting to rack up – Fran Kirby and Pernille Harder are long-term absentees, Millie Bright missed this game with a knock and Erin Cuthbert limped off in the second half.

Hayes says both Bright and Cuthbert will be fit to face Lyon in their Champions League quarter-final second leg on Thursday. Chelsea, who could only name seven subs on an under-powered bench on Sunday, need all the warm bodies they can get.

So often, Chelsea look unstoppable in English women’s football but after their third away game in seven days – this match followed trips to Reading and Lyon in the FA Cup and Champions League – cracks are appearing at Academy Stadium.

“I thought we were so sluggish in the first half,” Hayes said. “This was our third away game in a week and it looked like it.”

Hayes had to dip into her slimmed-down bench before half-time, hooking Lauren James and Sophie Ingle on 36 minutes in, with City two up.

Asked her reasons for the early change, Hayes said: “Legs. The game was very difficult, your minds can want to do a million things but if your legs can’t, that’s the challenge.

“I think the team will be ready for the week. The important thing is we’ve got to move on as quickly as possible.”

With just six or seven games remaining, the WSL is heating up. It looks like 21 May – when Chelsea play Arsenal and the Manchester clubs meet – could be the boiling point.

Forget the Premier League – this is the title race to watch.


Source link

What do you think?

Leave a Reply

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

    Lectric XP 3.0 Review Featured Gear

    Lectric XP 3.0 Review: Clunky but Comfy

    fP9xbWGfSK9RFjmj8dXbqS 1200 80

    Microsoft pushes emergency fix for dangerous ‘Acropallipse’ bug