First meets second in the WSL on Sunday as Chelsea travel to Manchester City, the winner will instantly be installed as favourites to win the title. Tim Stillman is backing Emma Hayes' team to take control.
"The Blues swarm the opposition in possession and City have not looked comfortable playing the ball out from the back this season, they also have an ongoing issue at right-back where forward Georgia Stanway has filled in in recent weeks."
Manchester City Women v Chelsea Women
Sunday February 23rd, 2pm.
Live on BT Sport
Manchester City head the WSL table with 39 points taken from 15 games, while Chelsea sit a point behind having played a game less. The winner, if there is to be one, on Sunday, will take control of the WSL title race. This is the last time that any members of the current top 3 cabal go head-to-head this season.
Four of the last five Women's Super League meetings between Manchester City and
Chelsea have ended level, but Chelsea overturned a 1-0 deficit in the reverse fixture in December to win 2-1, Emma Hayes' side have also beaten Arsenal twice this season. That said, Chelsea have yet to win at the Academy Stadium in the WSL.
This is a tough game to call, pitting the division's stingiest defence in City against the WSL's most prolific attack in the shape of Chelsea. Both teams offer exceptional firepower; though City might struggle to get in-form centre-forwards Ellen White and Pauline Bremer into the starting line-up together- if they play with a 4-4-2 they risk becoming overrun.
Hayes has a similar dilemma, however. Beth England has scored in her last 8 WSL games now and Sam Kerr is available again after international duty. The temptation to field two strikers will be equally as strong for Chelsea. The Blues swarm the opposition in possession and City have not looked comfortable playing the ball out from the back this season, they also have an ongoing issue at right-back where forward Georgia Stanway has filled in in recent weeks.
Beth England will likely be tasked with running in that channel and testing Stanway's sea legs at full-back and I think this is where Chelsea will win the game. I fancy City to be more conservative with Ellen White playing on her own upfront and for Chelsea to opt for Kerr and England upfront. 10/1 is very tempting for a 2-0 Chelsea win.
Despite City's defensive prowess, Chelsea were able to overturn a second half concession to win the reverse fixture and you can get 20/1 on City leading at half-time and Chelsea to win at full-time. However, City are a very strong prospect at home and have won their last 11 home games in the WSL, but I think Hayes' daring approach will bring an end to that on Sunday and I see the Blues making the title theirs. You can get 11/8 on a Chelsea win.