WSL: 3 takeaways from Chelsea resurgence as title race opens up

Guro Reiten celebrates scoring her team's seventh goal during the Barclays Women's Super League match between Chelsea and Bristol City
Guro Reiten celebrates scoring her team's seventh goal during the Barclays Women's Super League match between Chelsea and Bristol City at Kingsmeadow on May 05, 2024 (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images) (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

May 5th marked the final home tie of Emma Hayes’ chapter at Chelsea, in an era where she has made Kingsmeadow a fortress. Already relegated Bristol City were the final team on the Blues’ chopping block, and they suffered a crushing 8-0 defeat in the Women’s Super League.

Chelsea are now firmly back in the WSL title race, despite looking down and out following their loss to Liverpool. As they prepare to play their game in-hand against Tottenham Hotspur, let’s look at the three main takeaways from their comeback win over Bristol City.

Emma Hayes has instilled a relentless culture

After every goal, the Chelsea players all sprinted back to the kick-off spot. They had a mission to increase the goal difference as much as possible after Arsenal earlier in the day beat Manchester City through a dramatic late brace by Stina Blackstenius.  

In the first few minutes, Chelsea flew out of the traps and made sure they still had a say in this title battle. Hayes’ side needed an 8-0 win to gain an advantage on goal difference, and they did exactly that. Guro Reiten with four blistering goals, Aggie Beever-Jones with a brace, alongside goals from Niamh Charles and Sjoeke Nüsken.

The players had a spring in their step, and they weren’t letting Man City ease their way to the title. 

Hayes was smiling again, and Chelsea played as though muscle memory had kicked in at this part of the season. A mission to win the title, like they had done for the last four seasons, dreaming to make it five in a row. A dream that looked out of sight just earlier in the week.

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No James, no Ramírez? No problem

Lauren James has been nothing short of sensational for Chelsea. Growing in confidence and technique throughout the season, the youngster has become a mainstay of Hayes’ side. After spending a record fee on Mayra Ramírez, she’ll continue to have a big impact for the Blues.

With both missing, however, there were slight nerves. Step up Reiten and Beever-Jones. Their performances showed the fans a glimpse of the future at Chelsea. Hayes was full of praise for Beever-Jones claiming her progress is ‘as good as a trophy‘. She’s only two goals behind James, and her rise this season has been one to remember. 

Reiten hit a blistering four goals and showed why Hayes trusted her over the season on that left flank. It’s moments like these which you remember, and these players have done that after this game. An unsung hero, who won’t be unsung anymore if this leads to a fifth WSL win in a row.

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The WSL title race is alive

They capitalised when they needed to, but the Blues face two difficult away trips to end the season. So it will be no easy feat. Chelsea face both of the recent FA Cup finalists in their pursuit of the league title. The first trip will see them take on Robert Vilahamn’s Tottenham side, who have had a renaissance this season.  

Their final game is against FA Cup champions Manchester United, a team that beat Chelsea themselves in the semi-final of the cup. Two difficult games, but as Hayes said in her press conference, it was ‘crucial’ that her team were ready if there was a slip-up from City.

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Man City face Aston Villa, which is no easy match either. Despite boasting a team of global stars, the Sky Blues will face a staggering level of pressure. They won’t be able to look for their star player, Khadija Shaw, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season. The Jamaican star helped her side gain top spot with 21 goals in 18 games.  

Will there be dismay for Emma Hayes in her final season with a rare trophyless season? Or will the WSL title race end in a way nobody expected, but a similar face in Chelsea lifting it?  

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