Arsenal hold a three-point lead over City, who in turn are one point clear of Chelsea. But the latter still have a game in hand that could see them jump only a point behind the Gunners.
Chelsea’s big win at Kingsmeadow brought Bristol City crashing back down to earth after the Robins got an overdue but unexpected first win of the season away at Manchester United to begin 2020.
Tanya Oxtoby’s side even threatened to do the same again when Ebony Salmon, last week’s hero, scored an early goal to put Bristol ahead. It was short lived, however, and Chelsea came roaring back to lead 4-1 by half-time after goals from Beth England, Hannah Blundell, Jess Carter and Ji So-yun.
Ji and England each scored another after the break to make it 6-1 by full-time. Bristol avoided the same kind of collapse that saw them thrashed 11-1 by Arsenal last month, but the WSL’s leakiest defence has now conceded 36 times in 11 league games this season.
Arsenal ensured they stayed top of the table with a 4-0 win away at Brighton. It was oddly a second successive game in which star striker Vivianne Miedema drew a blank for the Gunners, but the Dutch international was still involved in the rout that saw goals from Danielle van de Donk, Jill Roord, Jordan Nobbs and Beth Mead, with two goals in each half.
Manchester City played a day earlier than their rivals in a game against Everton that was the first outing since manager Nick Cushing announced his upcoming February move to MLS side New York City as an assistant, having been in charge of the Sky Blues for six years.
Cushing will take charge for a few more games before handing over the reins and will hope to see more of the same as his tenure comes to an end, with City seeing off the Toffees in comfortable fashion. Pauline Bremer got another brace, while Gemma Bonner also netted, with only a late Georgia Stanway own goal taking the sheen off a 3-1 win.
Manchester United were due to face bottom club Liverpool on Sunday in the hope of cementing their grip on fourth place. But the game on Merseyside was called off a few hours prior to kick-off due to a waterlogged pitch at Prenton Park, a surface that was previously criticised by Chelsea boss Emma Hayes after her side drew 1-1 there in a mud bath shortly before Christmas.
Two of United’s last three WSL games, both away, have now been called off over waterlogging.
It meant that Casey Stoney’s side were vulnerable to being leapfrogged and that is exactly what happened. Reading jumped to fourth place by virtue of their narrow 1-0 over Birmingham, with Amalie Eikeland scoring the only goal of the game for the hosts in the first half.
Tottenham have also climbed the WSL table into fifth place thanks to their dramatic late victory over London rivals West Ham. Emma Mitchell, making her full Spurs debut on loan from Arsenal, looked to have given the dominant home side a 1-0 victory until the final moments.
Kenza Dali scored a 90th minute equaliser for the Hammers in what should have rescued a point for the visitors, only for Rianna Dean to snatch an even later 96th minute Spurs winner.
Just two points now separate fourth place Reading and seventh place Everton. Liverpool remain bottom of the table in the relegation zone, three points adrift of safety.