One of the biggest games of the season takes place in the Women’s Super League on Wednesday night as league leaders Manchester United entertain title challengers Arsenal at Leigh Sports Village.
The Red Devils have enjoyed a rapid rise in the last five years since they were formed and, after taking the reins in 2021, Marc Skinner has transformed them into genuine title contenders. His players will be relishing their encounter with the Gunners this evening as a victory will take them one giant step closer to becoming champions.
As for Arsenal, manager Jonas Eidevall is hoping that he can get his hands on the trophy at the second time of asking and fans are expecting an extraordinary game of football between these two strong sides. The importance of this game for both sides cannot be overstated but in Arsenal's case, this game is much more important for them than United.
The WSL matches that could determine where the title ends up this season
This is down to the fact that they have to play two more games than United before the end of the season due to their Champions League semi-final tie with Wolfsburg. Most of their fixtures will have short turnarounds - something which Eidevall has heavily criticised. Between 1 May to 21 May, his side have five games piled up and it is going to be a challenging period for his players. Not just because it is a lot of football in a short space of time but because this is the end of the season and the team will already be starting to feel the fatigue from the campaign.
With that in mind, as their match against title rivals United comes at the start of this hectic run-in, Arsenal need to take full advantage of their players being raring to go after the international break. Having been beaten at home by United earlier in the campaign, they will be hungry to get revenge. United won a five-goal thriller against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium back in November thanks to Alessia Russo’s last-gasp winner.
A win will move Arsenal up to second, level with United on 41 points, and get this frantic run of fixtures (which includes a trip to reigning champions Chelsea) off to a perfect start, putting them in a strong position to win the league for the first time since 2019.
In their last outing, they recorded a huge 2-1 victory over Manchester City at Meadow Park after coming from behind which will have provided Eidevall and his players with a huge confidence boost heading into tonight's fixture. The final weeks of the campaign are going to be full of challenges but if Arsenal can overcome this huge one against Skinner’s side, momentum will be in their favour. When you consider they have been without key attacking duo Vivianne Miedema and Beth Mead for the past few months, to have maintained their course in the race for the title is a credit to the squad.
The Gunners pushed Chelsea all the way last year and narrowly missed out. This year’s title race has been even more gripping with Manchester United and rivals Manchester City joining the party. This four-horse battle for champion status has added so much to the division, building on the wondrous Euro 2022 victory of the England national team which piqued the interest of a wider audience in the women’s game. As such, many games this season have become more significant than before and the quality of the league is growing - just look at Aston Villa this season.
Arsenal’s clash with United is just one of a few gargantuan clashes between the top four in the final weeks of 2022-23 and it builds the excitement and the drama of this incredible title race which has greatly benefitted the WSL as a whole.
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