WSL 1 Week Seven Preview: Bottom two battle it out in an exciting week of fixtures

Relegation rivals Sunderland and Doncaster Rovers Belles will face off this weekend and Birmingham City will look to close in on the top two in their clash with Chelsea.

WSL 1 Week Seven Preview: Bottom two battle it out in an exciting week of fixtures
Photo: VAVEL UK/Jonny Walsh

In week seven of the WSL 1, there are plenty of gritty encounters to look forward to: a vital relegation clash between the bottom of the table teams, a top of the table dual and plenty of mid-table clashes to watch out for. Here's the insight into this week's upcoming matches.

Liverpool - Reading

After an influx of new signings at the start of the season, Liverpool made a slow start to their campaign and are now hoping their new set of players can kick on in the second half of league fixtures. The fifth placed Reds are currently unbeaten in their last three matches, a run which has even seen them take points off title contenders Manchester City in consecutive fixtures, albeit a month apart due to the mid-season break.

The Reds face a Reading side this Saturday at the Select Security Stadium, who are yet to pick up a win since their promotion to WSL 1. However, manager Kelly Chambers has brought in a number of key signings in the past few weeks, including Remi Allen from Birmingham City and Sophie Perry from Brighton & Hove Albion. The Royals boss will be hoping their latest transfers can make an instant impact for the WSL 2 champions, as they currently sit in seventh place with two games in hand, and just one point separating themselves and Sunderland

Sunderland - Doncaster Belles 

Arguably the biggest game of the week is taking place at the Hetton Centre this Saturday as Sunderland take on fellow relegation rivals Doncaster Belles, in a must win match for both teams.

After a storming first season in the WSL 1, the Black Cats have struggled to find any sort of form in the first half of the season. They currently sit in eighth place in the table, just three points ahead of this week's opponents Doncaster who have a massive four games in hand over Sunderland.

The Black Cats will takes positives from the fact that Beth Mead is set for a return against the Belles, after she was forced to sit out last week's clash between the two teams in the Continental Cup - following a knock in the 5-0 WSL 1 defeat to Chelsea. The 21-year-old was a major loss for Sunderland as they failed to capitalise on their opportunities and were eliminated from the cup after a 2-1 loss to the Belles.

Sunderland will be looking to exact revenge on their rivals for knocking them out of the cup, but the Belles will be eager to get points on the board after a winless first round of fixtures. 

Arsenal - Notts County

Arsenal, who currently sit in fourth place, host Notts County at Meadow Park this Sunday and they will be looking to extend their unbeaten run in the league to five games after collecting two victories and two draws in their last four matches.

The two sides last met in April and played out a 2-2 draw - Kelly Smith marking her first start in 10 months in this match with a superb volley to open the scoring. Goals from Sophie Bradley- Auckland and Aivi Luik then put the Lady Pies ahead before Natalia Pablos equalised for the Gunners in order to share the spoils.

A win for sixth place Notts County this weekend could take them within one point of their opposition.

Chelsea - Birmingham City

Chelsea host Birmingham City at Wheatsheaf Park this weekend hoping to get back to winning ways after a shock defeat to London Bees sent them crashing out of the Continental Cup.

A win for Chelsea would take them up to the top of the table but they face stern opposition from the 'other Blues'. Birmingham City have only conceded four goals in eight fixtures ahead of the match in Staines this weekend and Emma Hayes is aware of the tough test her side will face against City.

London Bees celebrate their upset over Chelsea Ladies | Photo Credit: BBC Sport
London Bees celebrate their upset over Chelsea Ladies. | Photo: Rex Features

The Chelsea boss told the club's official website: "This is possibly the best defensive team in the country. Their clean sheets and goals against record confirms that. They are well organised, well drilled and tough to break down."

Hayes continued, saying: "They set out to stifle and frustrate. That’s their objective and they do that really well. We know what to expect."

City will go into this game brimming with confidence after winning their Continental Cup tie over Oxford United 2-0 and David Parker's side will be boosted by the performances of their new signings. Norwegian Andrine Hegerberg, who arrived from Swedish side Göteborg FC in the transfer window, opened her scoring record for the club in the win over Oxford - converting from the spot.