WSL title race ‘wide open’ after Chelsea run riot and Man City lose

Gareth Taylor reacts during the 2-1 defeat by ArsenalGetty Images

With only a minute of normal time left to go, Manchester City looked like they had one hand on the Women’s Super League trophy.

Gareth Taylor’s side, who were hoping to give retiring captain Steph Houghton the perfect send-off at Joie Stadium, knew victory would give them a chance of winning the WSL title on Sunday evening if Chelsea dropped points against Bristol City.

Then everything changed.

Stina Blackstenius’ dramatic late double gave Arsenal a 2-1 win at Joie Stadium, spoiling City’s party, hours before Chelsea ran riot to beat Bristol City 8-0.

Now, City may have to wait until the final day of the season to go head-to-head with Emma Hayes’ side in a blockbuster finish.

“I couldn’t tell you [who will win the title]. It’s definitely not over,” former England midfielder Fara Williams told BBC One.

“At the moment, it’s still in City’s hands and they have the points on the board.

“Chelsea have a game in hand to play. The pressure is on. It’s wide open for the last game of the season and it’s super exciting.”

However, defeat by Arsenal means they will likely need to get the job done at Aston Villa on the final day of the season, should Chelsea win their game in hand against Tottenham on 15 May.

As it stands, City have a three-point lead at the top, but Chelsea’s huge win at Kingsmeadow means they now have a superior goal difference and ex-England striker Ellen White thinks the title race has been “thrown up in the air”.

“It is still in City’s hands but [they will feel] a little bit dejected,” White told BBC One.

“But this is what we wanted – the most competitive league and the most competitive end to the season as well.”

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‘I always said it would go to final game’

City boss Taylor has always said the WSL title would need to be won on the final day.

But he must have felt the title was destined to head City’s way when Chelsea fell to a shock defeat by Liverpool on Wednesday evening.

Hayes, who will leave Chelsea to manage the US women’s national team in the summer, said “the title is done” in response to their 4-3 loss.

Whether it was a genuine feeling or mind games from Hayes in an attempt to force a slip-up from City, it is clear the title race is not done yet.

“I always said I thought it would go to the final game and it’s never changed. We knew what we had to do,” said Taylor.

“Of course it would have been nice to win the game. We have another opportunity now at Villa.

“Chelsea opened the door the other night and we’ve opened it back again a little bit. It is what it is, but nothing has changed in our thought process.”

The irony that it was Chelsea’s biggest rivals Arsenal who helped re-open the door for them has not gone unnoticed.

Manager Jonas Eidevall would not be drawn into it, but it is clear Arsenal hope to be the ones challenging next season and not just helping others.

“Those sorts of things we can’t really control. [Our victory] just shows what we are as a team and that we never give up,” he said.

“We put in a really strong performance and now it’s up to other teams to put in strong performances. It’s not really any of my business who is going to win.”

WSL table

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