The WSL run-in: What’s at stake for United?
It is certainly all to play for at the top of the Women’s Super League, a division Manchester United go into April top of, following the weekend's result.
Marc Skinner’s Reds defeated West Ham 4-0 at Old Trafford on Saturday evening to return to the summit and remain there, following Chelsea’s defeat to Manchester City on Sunday.
While Skinner and co reasserted after our win in M16 that the focus in the dressing room is on nothing further than our next game – a trip to Brighton in the league on Saturday, to be exact – there is very much an external excitement building around a thrilling four-team battle that is developing week-upon-week at the top of the WSL table.
Just three points separate United in first and Arsenal in fourth entering the campaign’s penultimate month, with both the title and three Champions League places very much up for grabs.
So, here is a detailed look at the situation as it stands, and what’s ahead for both the Reds and our rivals, in what’s set to be an exciting few weeks to come…
1ST – UNITED
(PLD 16, GD 33, PTS 38)
Having won at the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday, attentions now turn to a trip to the south coast, with Brighton next up in the league.
The 11:30 BST kick-off is the first of two important back-to-back meetings with the Seagulls for United, either side of an international break, with Brighton the opposition in our first-ever FA Cup semi-final on Sunday 16 April.
Focus will then return to league matters, and a potentially pivotal home fixture against fellow challengers Arsenal on the following weekend. Tottenham and Manchester City are also set to visit Leigh Sports Village before the end of the campaign, while Skinner’s side still have Aston Villa and Liverpool to play on the road – the latter coming on the final day of the season, recently confirmed for Saturday 27 May.
United's WSL run-in:
1 April – Brighton (A)
22 April – Arsenal (H)
29 April – Aston Villa (A)
7 May – Tottenham (H)
21 May – Man City (H)
27 May – Liverpool (A)
2nd – MANCHESTER CITY
(PLD 16, GD 20, PTS 38)
It was City’s win over Chelsea on Sunday that really opened up the fight at the summit of the division, as they leapfrogged the reigning champions to go level on points with United, behind only on goal difference.
The 2-0 triumph at the Academy Stadium continued an impressive run Gareth Taylor’s side have been on in the competition, meaning that since losing both of their opening two games in this season’s WSL, they have gone on a 14-match unbeaten streak.
An eye-catching fixture away to fourth-placed Arsenal awaits next for our neighbours, while after the international break, they host West Ham and Reading before visits to Liverpool and then United, the latter game taking place in the penultimate week of the season. Everton are City's final opponents of the season, in a match that will take place at the Academy Stadium.
City's WSL run-in:
2 April – Arsenal (A)
23 April – West Ham (H)
30 April – Reading (H)
7 May – Liverpool (A)
21 May – UNITED (A)
27 May – Everton (H)
3rd – CHELSEA
(PLD 15, GD 25, PTS 37)
Despite Sunday’s defeat seeing the Blues drop down to third, the reigning champions remain only a point behind the top two, with a game in hand. After their Champions League quarter-final second leg at home to Lyon on Thursday, they, like United, also have back-to-back games against an opponent that they will play in both the league and the FA Cup last four. That, for Emma Hayes’s side, is Aston Villa (both away).
In the league, the Londoners have four home fixtures still to play – against Leicester City, Liverpool, Everton and Arsenal – which could prove key for a side that have only lost once on their own turf in the competition over the last four seasons.
That London derby with Arsenal is one of two clashes they have with rivals from the capital, as an away match at West Ham is also on the calendar for 30 April. Reading (A) is the final fixture on the WSL schedule for the side that have claimed the trophy in each of the last three campaigns.
Chelsea's WSL run-in:
2 April – Aston Villa (A)
23 April – Leicester City (H)
30 April – West Ham (A)
3 May – Liverpool (H)
7 May – Everton (H)
21 May – Arsenal (H)
27 May – Reading (A)
These pics truly encapsulate the passionate support our fans gave to United Women at Old Trafford on Saturday.
4th – ARSENAL
(PLD 15, GD 29, PTS 35)
Like Chelsea, the Gunners’ current focus is on Champions League action, with a crucial last-eight second leg against Bayern Munich to come this midweek. But, off the back of securing bragging rights in the north London derby at the weekend, their WSL campaign resumes swiftly afterwards as they host Manchester City next Sunday.
Despite being at the foot of the pacesetting pack at present, Jonas Eidevall’s side will have opportunities to make ground up on the teams above them over the final two months of the campaign, as the only club of the quartet that will play each of the other sides before the end of the league term. Trips to United and Chelsea are still to come after that home match against City, while they also have a game in hand on both Manchester clubs.
Clashes with Everton (A), Leicester (H) and Brighton (A) are also on Arsenal’s calendar, prior to a final-day fixture at home to Aston Villa on 27 May.
Arsenal's WSL run-in:
2 April – Man City (H)
22 April – UNITED (A)
30 April – Everton (A)
7 May – Leicester (H)
10 May - Brighton (A)
21 May – Chelsea (A)
27 May – Aston Villa (H)
Please note that several dates in this article remain subject to change.
CHEER ON UNITED WOMEN IN THE FA CUP SEMI-FINAL
After the Reds face Brighton in the WSL on Saturday, the two clubs will meet again in the last four of the FA Cup, with a place in the final at Wembley Stadium up for grabs.
The semi-final encounter is set to place on Sunday 16 April at Leigh Sports Village, with tickets for adults £6 and concessions £3.
Be sure to secure your seat now as Marc Skinner’s side look to make history and advance to the final for the first time.