WSL Title Defence Falling Away for Chelsea Women

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We are only nine games into the WSL title race this season but the question has to be asked, have Chelsea lost the race already? An opening day defeat to Arsenal and a shocking upset by Reading mean that Emma Hayes’ side have already dropped six points in this campaign, the same amount that they dropped in the entire 2019/2020 season.  Four points separate Arsenal at the top from Chelsea in second place, in most leagues that’d be nothing to worry about but as everyone knows the top teams in the WSL title race just do not drop many points.

Chelsea Women WSL Title Defence Drifting Away With Costly Dropped Points

The Precedent

The WSL is an incredibly competitive league at the top. Teams like Arsenal, Chelsea, and usually Manchester City will generally beat most teams in the competition with ease. As we saw just last season Chelsea’s title-winning side dropped nine points across 22 games and only managed to win the title by a margin of two points. In the 2019/2020 season, Chelsea only dropped a total of six points in the shortened season but again only kept Manchester City at bay by the narrowest of margins. Looking back to 2018/2019, Arsenal romped to the league title, only losing two games in that league campaign. Title contenders in the WSL have to be close to perfect for the entire season if they want to outlast their opposition, and Chelsea are not on track to accomplish that this season with two losses to their name already. Normally, there may be no need to panic, but this season Chelsea must contest with a new challenge.

Fixture Congestion

This season saw the Women’s Champions League change its format to introduce a group stage which UEFA’s own statement promised a “20% increase in the number of matches”. The added fixtures have already had an effect on Chelsea who we have seen rotate heavily in a number of league games, including the recent defeat to Reading. With Chelsea virtually already through to the next round of the Champions League, they will need to be ready for more congestion when the knockout stage comes around.

Key Dates and Chelsea Hope in WSL Title Pursuit

Chelsea can take solace in the fact that Arsenal are also dealing with the Women’s Champions League. Arsenal faced a tough group stage draw that saw them smashed by Barcelona twice and will likely face a tough knockout round draw for coming second in the group, while Hoffenheim can technically displace Arsenal but it isn’t very likely.

On February 13, Chelsea and Arsenal will clash in the WSL. That game is a must-win for Chelsea already and could be a massive turning point in the season for both teams. January 23 and February 6, both 2022, could also be key dates as Arsenal and Chelsea, respectively, will go up against Manchester City who could defeat either side on their day – despite a disappointing start to the season.

While it may seem cliche, that three-week spell from January 23 through February 13 could be a defining point of the WSL title race and the seasons of both Chelsea and Arsenal.

 

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