Jessy Parker Humphreys takes us through the top talking points from this gameweek’s action.
Chelsea put one hand on title to frustrate Manchester City once again
For all that Manchester City have made the Academy Stadium a fortress over the past few seasons, it is now twice in two years that Chelsea have left with a potentially title-winning point.
Chelsea were able to hold on despite an onslaught of City pressure for a 2-2 draw, which leaves them two points ahead in the table with two games to go. Barring an incredible upset against either Tottenham or Reading, Chelsea will be back-to-back WSL title winners.
It shows how small the margins are in this competition. But for a missed penalty by Georgia Stanway last year, and a Lucy Bronze header that somehow flew past the post this year, it would be Manchester City as the reigning champions about to add another trophy to their cabinet.
As it is, Manchester City look like they will still only have one league title to show for all their investment. Meanwhile, Chelsea look set to become the most successful side of the WSL era.
In Manchester, the future is bright
Despite the frustrations of missing out once again — this looks like it will be Manchester City’s fourth consecutive second placed finish — there is good reason to think that City are still moving forward.
Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly were the stand-out players in the title showdown and, at the ages of 20 and 23 years old respectively, they are only going to get better.
Kelly in particular made the most of the space in behind Jonna Andersson, as well as her poor 1v1 defending, to threaten. In the first half, she could easily have created more for City if it wasn’t for a couple of sub-par decisions. That perhaps is to be expected from a 23 year old. Importantly, Chelsea were having to breathe a sigh of relief whenever the wrong choice was taken. Sides will be terrified that soon that might not happen anymore.
Points-a-plenty in the fight to avoid relegation
Teams at the bottom of the WSL inched, rather than rushed, towards safety this weekend. Every team at risk of the drop picked up a point, leaving them in much the same position as before.
Birmingham and West Ham are likely to be the most pleased as they managed to get draws against Reading and Everton — both sides who would have been expected to beat them. However, all four of Birmingham, West Ham, Aston Villa, and Bristol look like they could potentially go down given the permutations of games ahead.
The relegation battle looks like it will go right down to the wire.
Bristol City look for one last push to do the impossible
When Bristol City were 2-0 down to Aston Villa at half time, it seemed like the jig was up. Bristol have looked certain to go down for almost the entirety of the season, and whilst Matt Beard has made it a closer run thing than it looked, it felt like their luck had finally run out.
That was until a last-minute free kick from Ella Mastrantonio slipped past Lisa Weiss and into the back of the net to give Bristol a shock point.
Given the gulf in resources that Aston Villa and Bristol City have — case in point being Villa having a World Cup winner on the pitch in Mana Iwabuchi — this was a match that Villa should never have let get away from them.
Bristol will still need at least one point from either Brighton or Manchester United to have any chance of staying up. Even if they do not manage it, it has been a truly heroic effort.
Christen Press finally hits her groove for Manchester United
Manchester United robustly beat a listless Tottenham side 4-1 with Christen Press the stand-out player as she showed how far she has come across this season. Press has not always looked as comfortable in this United side as her compatriot Tobin Heath did, perhaps due to her shift from the inside forward role she plays with her national team to a central role here. Yet at a difficult point of the season for her side, she has flourished.
Here it was noticeable how she dropped deeper to avoid the attentions of Alana Kennedy, playing in central defence for Tottenham. In finding space in midfield, she was able to pick out passes to her teammates, most notably to Kirsty Hanson on the left who crossed in for Ella Toone to open the scoring. Her relationship with Toone has also improved, with both players having a much greater understanding of each other’s positioning on the pitch.
There have been no updates from Casey Stoney as to whether Press and Heath will stay for another season. United will hope they can persuade them, because they are only now getting to see the best of Christen Press.
Follow Jessy on Twitter at @jessyjph