Who will emerge victorious in the Women's Super League three-way battle?

  • Man City and Chelsea are neck-and-neck on points and goal difference at the top of the WSL table
  • Arsenal linger three points behind but are still in contention for the title
  • All three have almost secured a place in Europe next season, with Man Utd lagging behind

Who will come out on top?
Who will come out on top? / Crystal Pix/MB Media/Getty Images, Naomi Baker/Getty Images, Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

The Women's Super League has eight games left to play and the frontrunners - Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City - are in a three-horse title race.

Prior to the international break, City's triumph against reigning champions Chelsea placed both teams on equal footing in terms of points (34) and goal difference (+28), with only the number of goals scored giving the reigning champions the slight advantage.

Meanwhile, Arsenal's commanding performance against Manchester United widened the gap between the two teams to seven points. This left Arsenal just three points adrift of the top two, while United now find themselves in bleak waters, 10 points behind the league leaders and likely ruling them out of contention for even a European spot.

All three teams have been severely impacted by significant injuries. Chelsea are missing key strikers Sam Kerr and Mia Fishel, with both sidelined with ACL injuries sustained since the winter break. City's star summer acquisition, Jill Roord, suffered a similar fate in January while, Arsenal's defensive line has been plagued by short-term injuries alongside the delayed return of pivotal forward Vivianne Miedema, who is struggling to return to full fitness after tearing her ACL suffered last year.

With everything left to play for, this is the most exciting season the WSL has seen for a while. The top three sides have almost determined their European spots with a third of games still left to play and are now in a straight fight for the title.

Each side has their fare share of weapons in their armoury to pip their rivals to silverware, but it will take a strategic and controlled approach as any slip up could slip the trophy out from under either side.

Chelsea's emboldened history gives the Blues an edge

Chelsea FC  v Manchester United - Barclays Womens Super League
Chelsea defeated Man Utd 3-1 in January / Crystal Pix/MB Media/GettyImages

Frankly, it is hard to see any side other than Chelsea lift the WSL trophy given that they have done so for the past four years. The added want to bid farewell to manager Emma Hayes with yet another trophy makes it an even tougher ask of their opponents.

Leading the pack, if only narrowly by goals scored, Chelsea are still within grasping reach of another piece of silverware. Yet the recent injuries to Kerr and Fishel leave Hayes with a less defined attack than she would have wanted at this pivotal junction of the league.

Still to host Arsenal in a few weeks before travelling to United on the final day of the season, Chelsea's string of games is slightly easier than that of their opponents. Interspersed with Champions League, FA Cup and Conti Cup fixtures, the deeper Chelsea head into these competitions, the harder their bid for a seventh WSL title becomes though.

Nevertheless, a team like Chelsea are not ones to relinquish control with ease and will put up the most mammoth of fights to send Hayes, taking up post as head coach of the USWNT at the end of the season, off with a trophy cabinet laden with 2023/24 marked laurels.

Man City's consistency trumps all

Chelsea FC v Manchester City - Barclays Women¥s Super League
City defeated Chelsea to blow the title race wide open / Crystal Pix/MB Media/GettyImages

How do you thwart a formidable team like Chelsea who are on course to seal either fifth consecutive title? Consistency.

Manchester City are arguably, the most in-form and consistent team in the WSL having reached an eight-game unbeaten streak since a 1-0 loss to Brighton. Their dominance is a mark of a refresh after the calamitous and lacklustre season they had last campaign, with Gareth Taylor being rewarded for his patience and congruous development.

Ending Chelsea's 22 league games unbeaten at home in their emphatic win staked their claim for the title and now are within grasping distance of it. To a degree, City have an upper hand. Their last two big games - against Arsenal and United - are both at home, and Taylor's side have turned the Etihad Campus into a fortress that even their toughest of opponents have failed to conquer. If the star-studded squad can remain fit, City have a real opportunity to dethrone Chelsea.

The last time Chelsea lost to both City and Arsenal was 2016 - the same year City won their only WSL title. Could history be repeating itself?

Arsenal's resilience makes for a dark horse

Beth Mead
Arsenal have been given a second shot at the title after Chelsea dropped points / Warren Little/GettyImages

Chelsea's defeat at the hands of City berthed Arsenal a vital second chance. Ahead of the last round of WSL fixtures, Arsenal's trajectory was looking bleak, six points behind Chelsea despite defeating the Blues in a scintillating 4-1 triumph.

After losing to Tottenham and then West Ham - not even to mention their opening day loss to Liverpool - Arsenal are probably having the most frustrating season. Beating their title rivals is all well and good, but failing to see out games against lower-ranked sides left the Gunners far adrift of the title.

But now, Arsenal are statistically still within a shot of the title and with games against Chelsea and City awaiting them, the Gunners could potentially pull off the comeback of all comebacks and rid themselves of the 'bottlejob' tagline that has stuck after failing to turn out trophies despite a ruthlessly stacked squad.

The Gold Cup hosts a range of issues for Jonas Eidevall and a recent injury for Miedema, alongside the small setbacks to Leah Williamson, Victoria Pelova and Katie McCabe, could derail the Gunners' title charge. However, even at their most threadbare state last season, Arsenal turned out impressive wins and performances so hope is not lost for the Swedish manager just yet.