An epic title race, miracles at the bottom & World Cup spots on the line: Six reasons why the Women's Super League run-in can't be missed

Comments (0)
Lauren James Khadija Shaw Leah Williamson Alessia Russo composite
That Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Man City are locked in a four-way title showdown is only one reason why the WSL's conclusion will be thrilling

The Women's Super League's season finale is fast approaching, and it appears that everything is going to go down to the wire.

Manchester United top the table ahead of Wednesday's crunch clash with Arsenal, who are only three points off the pacesetters - and have a game in hand.

It is one of several high stake matches set to take place before the 22nd and final matchday kicks off on Saturday 27 May.

🏆 TOP STORY: Thiago Silva hits out at Chelsea owners

📣 HAVE YOUR SAY: Who has been the biggest Chelsea flop this season?

🚨 MUST READ: Gravenberch: Liverpool's Bellingham alternative?

But don't just tune in for the climax. There is plenty to keep an eye on between now and then, at both ends of the table and away from it altogether, too.

So, why should you be following the WSL run-in? Let GOAL explain...

  1. Chelsea's pursuit of immortality

    Chelsea's pursuit of immortality

    As we approach the final month of the WSL season, Chelsea sit on the brink of something special.

    Last year, the Blues became the first team in the league's history to win three successive titles. This time around, they could become the first side to lift the trophy four times in a row.

    It would be a particularly incredible achievement when you consider the injuries manager Emma Hayes has had to contend with this campaign. Pernille Harder and Fran Kirby, two of their best players, have only played 12 league games between them all season.

    Given their destiny is in their own hands, Chelsea are the favourites - but it looks certain that this title race will go to go down to the wire.

    It's Manchester United who sit at the top of the table, by one point, having played a game more. Three points off the pace, with a game in hand, are Arsenal, and then come Man City, only behind the Gunners on goal difference.

    The top four separated by three points? We're in for quite the finale.

  2. One huge club will miss out of Europe

    One huge club will miss out of Europe

    What makes the close quarters at the top all the more interesting is that the WSL only has three Women's Champions League spots available.

    One of United, Chelsea, Arsenal and City will not play European football next season.

    It's cruel that one will miss out because it will likely be by the finest of margins, but it adds an extra element of excitement to the league this year that has not been seen too often before.

    Four times in WSL history, a team has missed out on the UWCL by a single point. Otherwise, the places have been secured rather comfortably. Furthermore, for each of the last eight seasons, the top three has always been Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal, in some order or another.

    United's improvements threatened to change that last year, before they fell short. This year, they've come along even more and stand a really strong chance of breaking the stronghold that trio has.

    To have a genuine title contender possibly missing out on Europe adds incredible jeopardy to the league. So, who will suffer this season? And how will they cope in the transfer window by missing out on such an attractive competition?

  3. Leicester attempt to achieve the impossible

    Leicester attempt to achieve the impossible

    When the WSL went into its Christmas break, Leicester were rooted to the bottom of the table with nine games played, nine games lost, no points gained.

    To be quite honest, they looked absolutely doomed.

    Even when they beat Brighton on January 15, it looked like a real relegation battle was unlikely in a league that only demotes one team. But then the Foxes beat Liverpool in February, drew with Everton in March and beat Reading in April. That last result took them out of the danger zone.

    Suddenly, teams towards the bottom find themselves in a much more perilous situation than they might've imagined they'd be in when Leicester were winless.

    Brighton, Leicester, Reading and Tottenham are now separated by just three points at the bottom of the table, and the team that appears most likely to drop into the Championship seems to change every week.

    Could a side with as big a name as Spurs actually drop back into the second tier? Will Reading maintain their status as the only WSL team not linked to a men's Premier League side? Will Brighton's third managerial change of the season pay off? Will Leicester's attempts all be in vain in the end?

    There are not many points left to play for and every single one will be increasingly precious for this vulnerable quartet.

  4. An unlikely Golden Boot race

    An unlikely Golden Boot race

    One of the quirks of this WSL season is that none of the teams currently sat in the top three spots have players in the hunt for the Golden Boot.

    United's top scorers are Alessia Russo and Leah Galton, both on eight. Chelsea's Sam Kerr, who scored 20 last season and 22 the year before, is tied on the same number. Arsenal's most prolific player has been Frida Maanum, a midfielder who wasn't even in the Gunners' starting line up when the season began.

    It has instead become a two-horse race between a player from the team in fourth, Man City's Khadija 'Bunny' Shaw, and a player from the team in fifth, Aston Villa's Rachel Daly.

    The former's remarkable goalscoring exploits, with 16 goals in 17 games, were predicted by many before the campaign began. With service from England duo Chloe Kelly and Lauren Hemp, plus her own ability to forge opportunities out of nothing and well-rounded skillset, Shaw was a front-runner for the accolade before a ball was kicked.

    Daly's form, meanwhile, has been a welcome surprise. That's not to doubt her quality but to commend the progress Aston Villa have made this season and, as a result, the consistent service they have provided their No.9, who has produced excellent finishing and movement herself.

    Villa were 11th when Carla Ward took over as manager. This season, they look nailed on for fifth and have one of the most in-form strikers in the league leading that charge, with 13 goals from her 17 appearances.

    Shaw is in pole position to scoop up that Golden Boot, but that could all change before the end of the season.

  5. The twists and turns to come

    The twists and turns to come

    What makes these final few matchdays all the more exciting is the number of 'six-pointers' that remain.

    League leaders United welcome Arsenal on Wednesday in a massive game, with the Red Devils still having the small matter of a Manchester derby on their schedule, too.

    The Gunners need to visit London rivals Chelsea, that fixture occurring on the same weekend in which a huge game at the other end of the table sees Tottenham take on Reading. Brighton still have to face Spurs, too, while their clash with Leicester on the final day could quite possibly decide who stays up and who goes down.

    That's without factoring in the games that see relegation rivals take on title contenders. Earlier in the season, many of those fixtures might've been seen (on the outside) as easy games for the big guns.

    But when those teams have their WSL status on the line, they absolutely won't be.

  6. And there are World Cup places to play for!

    And there are World Cup places to play for!

    Among all of the above, there is a bigger picture, too.

    At the end of this campaign, after the players enjoy a well-deserved break, many will then join up with their national teams for this summer's Women's World Cup.

    For plenty, these final few games are not only important to help their clubs fulfil the season's achievements, but also to make sure they have a place on the plane to Australia and New Zealand.

    In the WSL, most of those players looking to end the season in good enough form to be selected are under the watchful eye of England head coach Sarina Wiegman.

    Can Beth England put together a scoring run for relegation-threatened Spurs that earns her a Lionesses recall? Jordan Nobbs has been in excellent form for Aston Villa since a January transfer - will it secure her place in the squad? Is Russo's place as England's starting No.9 under threat from free-scoring Daly?

    Wiegman will be keeping a close eye on these last few matchdays as she mulls over her final list of 23. It adds another element to what already promises to be an enthralling finale to a WSL season that has already provided plenty of entertainment.