WSL returns: Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City in title race as West Ham and Bristol City scrap at bottom

The WSL returns this weekend, with two games live on Sky Sports on Sunday; Watch Man City vs Liverpool on Sky Sports Football; kick-off 2.30pm); then tune into West Ham vs Tottenham on Sky Sports Premier League; kick-off 6.45pm

Image: The WSL returns to action this weekend, with two games live on Sky Sports

The WSL returns this weekend, with two games live on Sky Sports on Sunday. But where did we leave things and what is coming up in 2024?

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Twists and turns in the title race

There were two shock twists in the WSL title race before the winter break. Firstly, Arsenal were 4-1 winners against Chelsea – their only loss of the season so far – sending the Gunners level on points with the Blues.

Jonas Eidevall’s side were unable to consolidate that win the following week, losing the North London Derby for the first time in the WSL to Tottenham.

Chelsea went on to beat Bristol City the same weekend, re-establishing their three-point lead at the top of the WSL.

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Highlights of the Women’s Super League game between Arsenal and Chelsea

But their winter break has been marred by an ACL injury to Sam Kerr, although they have already signed Nathalie Bjorn from Everton. Arsenal too have landed USA international defender Emily Fox as teams continue to strengthen ahead of the WSL’s return.

The Blues sit on 25 points, with Manchester City – who will play live on Sky Sports this weekend – and Arsenal level on 22 points in second and third respectively. Gareth Taylor’s side are second on goal difference, and have somewhat been quietly going about their business.

Since a shock 1-0 defeat to Brighton in November, Man City have won all four of their WSL games, including a 3-1 win against Manchester United and a 7-0 thrashing of Tottenham. In that time, they have scored 16 goals and conceded just three.

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Watch highlights of the Women’s Super League game between Tottenham and Arsenal

It will perhaps be Arsenal who will feel the most aggrieved at their position in the table. They have won matches against their top three rivals Chelsea and Man City, and drew with Manchester United. But defeats to Liverpool and Tottenham have been damaging, highlighting how the gap between teams is closing in the WSL.

It only demonstrates further how every game and every point matters in the tightest of leads.

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Can Man Utd, Liverpool or Spurs catch the top three?

One of last season’s title contenders, Man Utd, already find themselves four points from the top three and seven from Chelsea in first. It may already be too big of a gap to close to secure another Champions League spot.

There have been some big results for Unitd too – including 5-0 wins against West Ham and Everton – but half of their WSL games so far have been draws or defeats.

One of those came against local rivals Liverpool before the break, which was the Reds’ first-ever win against Man Utd in the WSL.

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Highlights of the Women’s Super League game between Manchester United and Liverpool

It sees Liverpool level on 18 points with Man Utd on only their second season back in the WSL. It is a testament to the squad Matt Beard has built and the culture he is building at the club.

Another team impressing this season is Tottenham, currently three points behind Man Utd and Liverpool. Robert Vilahamn has been keen to stick to his playing style, which has sometimes been to Spurs’ detriment.

But their win against Arsenal in December was validation for Vilahamn, and they have already added to their ranks in January with Matilda Vinberg and Charlotte Grant.

After Tottenham, there are a group of four teams who are not going to be pressing at the top this season, could potentially be dragged into the relegation race, but more likely will not be.

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Just three points separate Everton in seventh with Brighton in 10th. Perhaps the most surprising team in that mix is Aston Villa, who had been part of last season’s chasing pack.

Carla Ward’s side had a dismal start to the season, but three wins in the last two months have pushed them up the WSL table. One of those came against Brighton, who are still finding their feet under new coach Melissa Phillips.

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Highlights from the Women’s Super League match between Aston Villa and Brighton

Leicester had been one of the teams impressing in the early stages of the season, but a dip in form has seen then drop into eighth. They have not won since early October, drawing their last two games against Brighton and West Ham.

Everton too have three WSL wins on the board in their 10 games so far, although only the Hammers have scored fewer league goals this season.

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We take a look at some of the stunning goals that were scored in the WSL in 2023

Will West Ham’s signings make a difference in the relegation battle?

Two teams are currently locked on five points at the bottom of the WSL table – West Ham and Bristol City, with the Robins promoted from the Championship last season. Rehanne Skinner’s side are just ahead of bottom spot on goal difference.

Each side have won just one WSL game this season. Bristol City beat the Hammers when the two met in early November. West Ham were 2-0 winners against Brighton in their second game of the season.

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Highlights of the Women’s Super League game between West Ham and Leicester

There’s little to separate the two either. Bristol City have scored two more goals than West Ham, but have conceded five more too. As things stand, it could be the smallest of margins – or even goal difference – that could decide who stays up this season.

But the Hammers have made superb signings in the transfer market – one that would be impressive even without the threat of relegation. They include the signings of USA international Kristie Mewis, Australia midfielder Katrina Gorry, as well as defender Shelina Zadorsky on loan from Tottenham.

There will be plenty of pressure on them to help turn West Ham’s fortunes around. Mewis arrives in England having won the NWSL title with NJ/NY Gotham last season in the USA. Zadorsky has spent four years in the WSL, while Gorry is a stalwart for her country and has years of professional football experience under her belt.

Signing such players not only shows how seriously West Ham are taking their current predicament, but also the value of having a Premier League club behind you.

But as the saying goes, it’s not over until it’s over, and there are still 12 games to play. In football, anything can happen and Bristol City will be hoping they can be the ones to pull away.

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Highlights of the Women’s Super League game between Bristol City and Chelsea

Their ace could be their fanbase. The Robins are attracting almost 9,000 people to Ashton Gate on average, far exceeding West Ham’s attendances.

There is a lot to be said for the power in the stands, and Bristol City will need to harness that for what is proving to be the tightest of relegation races.

What’s coming up in 2024?

WSL fixtures in January

Saturday January 20 Aston Villa vs Everton 2pm
Sunday January 21 Chelsea vs Man Utd 12.30pm
Sunday January 21 Brighton vs Bristol City 2pm
Sunday January 21 Man City vs Liverpool 2.30pm, live on Sky Sports
Sunday January 21 Leicester vs Aston Villa 3pm
Sunday January 21 West Ham vs Tottenham 6.45pm, live on Sky Sports
Saturday January 27 Brighton vs Chelsea 5.30pm, live on Sky Sports
Sunday January 28 Man Utd vs Aston Villa 12pm
Sunday January 28 Everton vs Leicester 12.30pm
Sunday January 28 Bristol City vs West Ham 2pm
Sunday January 28 Tottenham vs Man City 2pm
Sunday January 28 Liverpool vs Arsenal 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports

The WSL returns this weekend, with two games live on Sky Sports on Sunday. Man City will take on Liverpool (kick-off 2.30pm), before West Ham host Tottenham (kick-off 6.45pm).

Both Arsenal and Chelsea will be back on Sky Sports the following weekend. The Blues take on Brighton on Saturday January 27 (kick-off 5.30pm), before Arsenal travel to Liverpool on Sunday January 28 (kick-off 4.30pm).

On the same day, Bristol City and West Ham meet again in a huge match for the relegation race as Man City face a tough trip to Tottenham.

In February, chasing teams Liverpool and Tottenham play on Sunday February 4, before Chelsea and Man City face off in a title battle two weeks later.

Heading the remaining months of the season, there will be mouthwatering return fixtures in the North London derby, Manchester derby and Chelsea vs Arsenal.

How to follow the WSL on Sky Sports’ digital platforms

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Take a look at some of the greatest WSL saves of 2023

Follow all the latest from the Women’s Super League across and app, including exclusive features and interviews, plus dedicated live blog coverage and in-game clips from games live on Sky Sports.

You can also watch free match highlights from every WSL game this season on Sky Sports’ digital platforms and YouTube channel, while all matches will continue to be shown on both Sky Sports Football, as well as on Sky Showcase, available in all Sky homes, even without a Sky Sports package, giving the competition greater visibility.

Alongside coverage and visibility for the league across all Sky Sports’ main social media channels, the bespoke Twitter channel @SkySportsWSL will continue to be the home of all Barclays FA WSL content on Sky Sports.

The Sky Sports WSL TikTok account gives fans 360° coverage of the league and granting them exclusive access to their new favourite players. Through fun challenges and interviews, along with behind-the-scenes footage, viewers will get to know the WSL’s array of personalities and see the sport from a new set of angles.

Meanwhile, fans can also keep up to date with everything on and off the pitch with Three Players and a Podcast, hosted by Caroline Barker.


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