Chelsea Women vs Reading, WSL preview: eyes on four straight titles

After nine months of exhilarating action in the Women’s Super League, the final match week for the Chelsea Women is finally here.

On Saturday, May 27 in the county of Berkshire in the Women’s Super League there is a lot at stake. Not only is it all about the top of the table, but the Chelsea Women have the opportunity to send Reading down after finishing in the top-eight in every campaign expect for this season since 2016. The club’s eight years in the English top-flight could come to a crashing halt as their opponent celebrates another league title on their home turf.

Anything but a triumph at home against the west London outfit will result in relegation. If Reading does win, Leicester City must beat Brighton and Hove Albion in order to maintain safety in the WSL given the Berkshire side possessing a better goal differential. The Royals men’s team has been relegated to League One, and the women’s team could make it a double relegation within the club when it is all said and done on Saturday afternoon.

Emma Hayes’ side heads on the road for the final match this campaign needing a non-losing result without losing a plus-five goal differential to secure the league title and a position in the group stages of the UEFA Women’s Champions League next season. Kelly Chambers’ side is going to throw everything at the Blues on Saturday afternoon. The home team has to ponder any sort of tactical adjustment possible to make the west Londoners’ life as difficult as they can. In the previous two meetings between these two sides, the club that currently sits at the basement of the English top-flight has found the back of the net at least once.

Even with the factor of desperation, the form of the Royals makes it difficult to present this club with any hope against the team at the top of the league. Chambers’ side has been outscored 13-2 in the last three WSL contests, having been without a win since March 5 at home against a reeling West Ham United side. Knowing they had the Blues in the final week, the Royals needed a result against Tottenham to at least give them a chance at survival. After blowing a two-goal lead to Everton a few weeks ago, the displays by the team as a whole have gone drastically downhill. It is the highest goal-scoring team in the league against a club that has allowed the second-most goals in the WSL this season.

The west Londoners’ may have defeated the Royals twice this season, including a match in which four academy players made appearances off the bench, but Chambers has led a side that has challenged the champions before. Everyone remembers the 1-0 defeat on the road to Reading in December 2021.

It doesn’t matter how the Chelsea Women get it done, but as long as they find a way to earn a result, the league title will be staying in west London.

For the away side, it is not about playing not to lose, it is about going out there with the same kind of energy they brought against Arsenal this past weekend in the first 30 or so minutes. In the FA Cup quarterfinal, Hayes deployed a front-two of Guro Reiten and Niamh Charles, gifting Sam Kerr the day off. The two wingers combined well, and showed that against bottom of the table teams, the Australian could rest with attacking talent littered throughout the roster. In total, the west London side has outscored the Royals 21-4 in all competitions since January of 2021, defeating them by five goals on three separate occasions.

Hayes-led teams have been there and done that in the final week of a league campaign. When the pressure is on to deliver, that is where Hayes has them most ready to play. It is about accomplishing the task in front of you rather than relying on someone else to do the job for you. Man United will without question defeat Liverpool on the road. While it is the team at the bottom of the table, the west Londoners still have to play a full 90 minutes of the kind of football they have been playing in May in order to lift another piece of silverware.