Manchester City restart their WSL campaign this weekend with a home match against Liverpool, and the blues have every reason to be hopeful for the end of the season. City are just three points behind leaders Chelsea and, with Emma Hayes side losing their influential star Sam Kerr due to injury, could this be an opportunity for City to win the league?
City are the form team of the WSL at the moment, having won their last four matches. But they face a difficult run in the next few weeks, and the outcome of those matches will determine whether the blues will be able to stay the course.
First up for City is a match against surprise outfit Liverpool. The reds have won just two of their last five matches, but those are their only defeats from ten matches this season. City won the League Cup tie at Prenton Park in November, but the girls in blue had to fight to get a result. Leading 1-0, City found themselves level at the break, only to go 2-1 down minutes into the second half. Jess Park Levelled and two stunning goals by Chloe Kelly wrapped up the win, although the Merseysiders did pull a goal back in injury time.
The blues then travel to Spurs, a team they beat 7-0 at the Joie Stadium, before a tough February, that sees City visit both Arsenal in the FA Cup and Chelsea in the league. Gareth Taylor will no doubt want to play his strongest team possible for both matches, which has the potential to take its toll on the blues.
It will be the match against current champions Chelsea at the end of next month that will highlight if the blues have what it takes to push Emma Hayes side all the way in the title race. March sees consecutive matches at home to United and away to Liverpool, while May sees City welcome Arsenal to the Joie Stadium.
An Open Season
This season has been quite open and, in fairness, any one of City, Chelsea or Arsenal could take the title. United are four points off the pace and defeat at Chelsea this weekend could all but end their title hopes. Liverpool are also in with an outside chance too. Level on points with United, they are more than capable of getting a result or two against the top teams, something that City will need to be wary of on Sunday afternoon.
There have been some surprising results already this season, with Liverpool’s opening day win at Arsenal, United being held to draws by Leicester and Brighton, and Chelsea not just losing at Arsenal but getting thumped 4-1.
City have had a few surprises too. Nine players were able to keep Chelsea to a 1-1 draw and both Alex Greenwood and Lauren Hemp were sent off, while a 1-0 home defeat to Brighton, the first loss to the South coast side in the WSL, brought home the harsh reality that, this season, any team is capable of beating another.
And, if Gareth Taylor’s side can carry their pre-Christmas form over into 2024, there’s every chance that they could walk away with the WSL title for the second time in their history.
The league is there for the taking. Are City brave enough to seize the opportunity?