How the 2020/21 WSL title race & relegation battle are shaping up

Chelsea will be crowned Women’s Super League champions for the fourth time in six seasons if they hold their nerve in the final two games of the 2020/21 campaign, although Manchester City are still relentlessly pursuing them in the hope of pouncing on any slip up.

After a slow start to the season, despite assembling something of a ‘dream team’ in Manchester, City won 11 games in a row between early December and early April. That impressive run was only ended when the points were shared with Chelsea in a 2-2 draw in last week’s titanic clash between the sides that had the potential to be a title decider.

Chelsea & Man City drew 2-2 in a recent potential title decider | Visionhaus/Getty Images

Chelsea were actually leading in Manchester until Lauren Hemp’s late goal put City back on level terms. But the result still worked more in Chelsea’s favour by preserving the same two-point lead they had held over City prior to kick-off and clearing their last major hurdle en-route to the title.

Emma Hayes' Blues are in the driving seat with only a fortnight of the season remaining and will lift the trophy again if they win away against Tottenham and at home against Reading on 5 and 9 May respectively. Their destiny is fully in their own hands and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

What’s more, the reverse of both of those fixtures earlier in the season ended in comfortable Chelsea wins by a combined score of 9-0.

But the way that the fixture list plays out as a result of Chelsea’s ongoing involvement in the Champions League means that City have the chance to go top of the WSL before the current leaders play that game against Spurs, which has been delayed by a few days.

Chelsea are still favourites but have added Champions League distraction | Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images

City will go top by one point if they win at home against Birmingham in their next game, having already won 4-0 in the reverse fixture in the midlands as recently as late February.

Chelsea are in action against Bayern Munich in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final that same day, looking to overturn a 2-1 aggregate deficit from the first leg, and pushing their penultimate WSL fixture of the season back by a few days.

City, who would love to still be in the Champions League themselves, will hope European involvement serves as enough of a distraction for an opportunity to open up. Chelsea would then reclaim top spot if they win against Tottenham, which will take the title race to the wire on the final day of the season, with either still in with a chance of lifting the trophy.

Logic and form suggests that Chelsea will get over the line in first place, but, as shown by their shock defeat to Brighton in early February, anything can still happen and the WSL has seen final day drama before when Liverpool pipped Chelsea and Birmingham to the title in 2014.

Chelsea were stunned by Brighton in February, proving anything can still happen | Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

At the other end of the table there is still just as much to play for, with four clubs still in danger of relegation in the final two weeks of the season.

Bristol City remained in the relegation zone after the weekend’s round of fixtures following a 2-2 draw with Aston Villa, who are themselves only currently safe on goal difference. Villa threw away a 2-0 lead that could have all but guaranteed survival, but instead stay level on points with the Robins.

Birmingham and West Ham are each only two points better off than the bottom two and either could yet be caught if results go against them in the final few games.

Having been bottom themselves until recently, West Ham are the form team down there and are actually the only side in the bottom half of the table to have won any of the last five games.

West Ham are trying to escape relegation near the bottom | Julian Finney/Getty Images

Crucially for the Hammers, Birmingham and Villa, they all have a game in hand on Bristol.

One of those is the second city derby between Birmingham and Villa in the coming days, which could have a major impact on the relegation picture. West Ham’s game in hand, to be played the same night, is against a strong Arsenal on a six-game winning run and is likely to end in defeat.

Villa then host West Ham in another ‘six-pointer’ on the penultimate game day on 2 May, while Bristol host Manchester United and Birmingham travel to Manchester City.

Aston Villa & Bristol City drew 2-2 in the weekend's relegation 'six-pointer' | Naomi Baker/Getty Images

The final day on 9 May sees Villa travel to Arsenal, Birmingham host Tottenham, Bristol travel to Brighton and West Ham at home to Manchester City. One of the four in danger will be playing their football in the Women’s Championship in 2021/22.

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Source : 90min