WSL 1 - Week 13 Preview: City on the verge of winning the title
City can win the title this weekend, whilst Doncaster Belles are still praying for a great escape | Photo: VAVEL UK/Jonny Walsh

WSL 1 - Week 13 Preview: City on the verge of winning the title

Manchester City just need to avoid defeat in this week's round of fixtures as they take on Chelsea on Sunday afternoon.

Matt Dawson

The equation for Manchester City could not be clearer, avoid defeat against Chelsea in what is a huge clash, and they are crowned WSL champions. The visitors to CFA this weekend are on the verge of losing the title after winning it last season, but they'll make it hard for their opponents as Week 13 has massive anticipation. 

That's not all to look forward too though, as Doncaster face Reading in a relegation battle clash, whilst Birmingham take on Liverpool who both sit in mid-table. Meanwhile sixth plays seventh as Sunderland travel to Meadow Lane to take on Notts County

City closer than ever

Nick Cushing's team have been the dominant force in English women's football this summer and now they have the chance to finish it off by winning the title. All Man City need against fellow title rivals Chelsea on Sunday is a point to confirm top spot in the WSL.

The Blues sit seven points off leaders City, who are on 38 points and it's been a season where Emma Hayes' players just haven't been able to match the team that ran them so close last season.

The setting and script couldn't be more perfect then, as the players come into this game off the back of an international break where no doubt there would have been some rivalry between the City and Chelsea players. Nikita Parris has been in good form this season, and she scored in England's win over Belgium recently, whilst Jill Scott also scored in that game, and the 5-0 thrashing of Estonia. 

Karen Carney has meanwhile been a fine addition to the Chelsea side, and like Scott, she scored in both of her country's wins over the international break. All of those names are key players heading into this weekend's game, and they'll be looking to carry on that form. Claire Rafferty however could miss the game after suffering from concussion but it's touch and go as to whether she'll be involved. 

City are so far unbeaten in the WSL and they surely can't lose it now? Chelsea will not make it easy for them though. 

Relegation six pointer

Can Doncaster perform the great escape? Only time will tell, but they'll have to beat a Reading side also hoping to beat the drop, sitting six points above the Belles who have yet to pick up a point in an extremely tough season. 

If there was ever a six pointer at the foot of the table, this is it. With remaining games against the likes of Arsenal who they face twice, and Liverpool, Doncaster are going to have to start picking up points in games like the Reading one on Saturday if they're to somehow stay up.

They suffered a big defeat to Sunderland, also bidding to beat the drop in their last encounter, and they will have to put that behind them and rouse themselves for the final weeks of the season. 

As for Reading, they come into this match off the back of an extremely tough run, facing Man City twice, Liverpool and Chelsea in their last four. All of them ended in defeat, but against Doncaster at the Keepmoat this weekend they have the chance to bounce back and put more daylight between them and this weekend's opponents.

Both teams are yet to face each other this season, but after this they will play against each other on the final weekend as well. Doncaster could already be down by then, so it is absolutely crucial they pick up points against Reading. 

Sigsworth in action earlier this season. | Image credit: Doncaster Rovers Belles
Sigsworth in action earlier this season. | Image credit: Doncaster Rovers Belles

County and Sunderland hoping for safety

Another potential relegation clash this weekend sees Notts County take on Sunderland, who are both not mathematically safe yet. However a win for either side, who both sit on nine points, would go a long way to cementing themselves in WSL 1. County do have a game in hand though over Sunderland, something which could be pivotal come the end of the season.

Out of the bottom four teams, The Lady Pies are the team that are the most likely to stay up, and they should do exactly that. Going into the final weeks they have favourable fixtures; facing Doncaster and Sunderland again, before a final encounter against Chelsea. County have the experience in their side to survive, and they should be able to cement themselves, especially if they beat Sunderland this weekend. 

As for the Lady Black Cats, they will be looking to display the kind of performance that saw them be so potent in front of goal against the Belles last time out. It could come down to a scrap but with Doncaster yet to pick up a point they should have enough to ensure they stay up. 

Intriguing mid-table encounter

Liverpool travel to Solihull to take on Birmingham this week, as the Reds look to continue their good form and rejuvenation towards the back end of the campaign in the WSL. Liverpool are in fourth place at the moment, and sit two points above Birmingham in fifth. 

Both sides have been in relatively good form of late, and will still be hoping they can leapfrog Arsenal into third place in the league. However Birmingham may just have one eye already on the Continental Cup final the weekend after, as they take on Manchester City. 

The Blues beat Liverpool in the quarter-final of that very competition last time they faced each other, as they won after extra time thanks to an extremely late Coral-Jade Haines goal. The visitors this weekend will therefore be looking for revenge, and will be hoping for a repeat of when they beat Birmingham in the WSL earlier in the season when Shanice Van De Sanden scored the winner in a 1-0 win.