Chelsea will host Manchester United in a massive table-top clash in the Women’s Super League on Sunday, pitting the defending champions against contenders for the throne.
Chelsea won last season’s title ahead of Manchester City on a points-per-game basis when the season was abandoned. But United have become a whole new challenger in 2020/21 in what is only their second year as a WSL club.
The duo met on the opening weekend of the new season at the home of United Leigh Sports Village and played a 1-1 draw – a result just in the end. The two are the only WSL teams still undefeated, neither of them really got it wrong in the four months that followed.
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Ahead of kick-off on Sunday afternoon, United led the way by three points. Chelsea have a game in hand and a win would mean pushing their opponents up to first place due to a slightly stronger goal difference. A draw would keep the gap as it is, but still give Chelsea a chance to recoup it with their extra game, while United are hoping for a historic victory.
It was only recently that Casey Stoney’s side claimed their first league victory against one of the WSL ‘big three’, beating Arsenal in November. They then held their ground in a Manchester derby the next game, actually coming back from 2-0 to show their courage and fight.
United have yet to beat in three previous encounters in any competition and will see this as a significant hurdle to overcome in their quest to be one of the established WSL heavyweights. Chelsea, however, have not lost in 30 WSL games.
When does the kick-off take place? Sunday January 17th
What time is the kick-off? 2:30 p.m. (GMT)
Where is it played? Kingsmeadow
TV channel? BT Sport (UK)
After recovering from heart disease that brought him closer to retirement, Fran Kirby is in sparkling form for Chelsea scored four times against Reading last time around.
Blues boss Emma Hayes has a ridiculous array of attacking talent to call on, with Pernille Harder, Ji So-yun and Bethany England only appearing from the bench in this play-back match.
Tobin Heath and Christen Press were both excluded from this month’s USWNT squad roster, while Leah Galton will look to continue her fine form, having been the WSL Player of the Month for December.
United bid farewell to left-back Lotta Okvist this week. The Swede arrived at the club in the summer of 2019 as a direct replacement for Alex Greenwood, but struggled to secure a regular spot and joined Damallsvenskan champions Kopparbergs / Goteborg.
Reading 0-5 Chelsea – WSL (Jan 10)
Chelsea 3-0 Benfica – Champions League (Dec 16)
Brighton 0-1 Chelsea – WSL (Dec 13)
Benfica 0-5 Chelsea – Champions League (Dec 9)
Chelsea 3-2 West Ham – WSL (Dec 6)
Male Utd 6-1 Bristol City – WSL (Dec 20)
Everton 1-0 Male Utd – Continental Cup (Dec 16)
Reading 1-2 Male Utd – WSL (Dec 13)
Aston Villa 0-2 Male Utd – WSL (Dec 5)
Male Utd 0-0 Man City (AET – Man City 4-4 on penalties) – Continental Cup (November 19)
Chelsea have a deeper and objectively better team than Manchester United, but this gap is gradually narrowing as the latter improves.
It will be a close game likely to be dominated by two strong defensive units and United have shown this season they can handle Chelsea.
The WSL title will not be won or lost here, with many games to come.
Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United
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