Manchester City welcome Chelsea to the Academy Stadium on Sunday afternoon, knowing victory will take them above their London rivals for the first time this season.
City have been in exceptional form in the league and have not suffered defeat in the WSL since a 2-0 reverse at Kingsmeadow in September. However, in order for City to achieve this, they must record their first victory over Emma Hayes’ side since Gareth Taylor became manager.
The blues have never beaten Chelsea in the WSL under Taylor and have struggled against both them and Arsenal, however, they did break their curse against the Gunners when City ran out 2-1 winners in February.
City have won ten meetings against Chelsea, with the London blues winning 13, and Chelsea firmly held the upper hand over City last season. They beat City 3-0 in the delayed 2021 FA Cup tie, before thrashing the blues 4-0 at the Academy Stadium in November. In March, a 1-0 defeat at Kingsmeadow was followed by a 3-1 League Cup win for City at Wimbledon. The blues then lost the FA Cup Final to Chelsea at Wembley.
City’s form have been in good form since losing their opening two games of the season. The blues are unbeaten in 13 WSL matches, winning 11 and drawing two. However, those dropped points at home to Chelsea and United could be costly at the end of the season.
By comparison, Chelsea have only dropped two points since their defeat at Liverpool in September. A 1-1 draw at Arsenal is the only time Hayes’ side have failed to collect all three points as they continue to be the team to beat in the WSL.
Gareth Taylor has the luxury of choosing from a fully fit squad for Sunday’s clash. Defender Esme Morgan returned to action against Aston Villa after recovering from an achilles injury and Australian duo Hayley Raso and Alanna Kennedy also re-joined the squad.
Chelsea will be without Pernille Harder, Katerina Svitkova and Fran Kirby, while Millie Bright, who was forced off during Chelsea’s match against Lyon, is a doubt. Niamh Charles and Jessie Fleming, who both missed the midweek UCL match, may return to the side.
Chelsea may have one eye on their Champions League Second Leg tie on Thursday, but Emma Hayes will be determined not to let that distract her side. Taylor is desperate for a win against Chelsea and, with the league title their only chance of silverware, he’ll want to make this match count. This could go either way, but I think it will end in a draw.
Prediction: Manchester City Women 2-2 Chelsea Women