With a convincing 2-0 victory against Arsenal at Kingsmeadow, Chelsea moved one step closer to capturing its fourth consecutive WSL championship and eliminating the Gunners from title contention.
In the 6.45 p.m. kickoff, which will be shown live on Sky Sports, Emma Hayes’ team will be declared WSL champions if Manchester United loses to their neighbourhood rivals City.
Meanwhile, Arsenal will be fighting to hold onto the top three Champions League berths with fourth-place City just three points behind them.
Midway through the first half, a spirited Chelsea team seized the lead thanks to Guro Reiten, who stretched unopposed to finish Eve Perisset’s driven cross into the bottom corner for her 12th goal of the year.
Only before halftime, Chelsea increased their advantage thanks to a Reiten free-kick that Sam Kerr headed back across the goal for Magdalena Eriksson to score (41), a memorable moment for the captain only days after revealing she would be departing the team at the end of the season.
Chelsea attempted to acquire Katie McCabe in January, and she missed a penalty for Arsenal (60), but the Blues played the game out well and earned three points, their 18th victory in 21 games this season and sixth consecutive win as they seek to maintain their domestic supremacy.
Manager Hayes claims she won’t be watching as she pursues a 13th major trophy with the Blues, but Chelsea supporters will be firmly seated on their couches as Manchester United takes on City this evening. The match will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Football starting at 6.30 p.m., with kickoff scheduled for 6.45 p.m.
For Chelsea, the situation is straightforward: if United loses, the Blues will win the title for a fourth consecutive year.
If United triumphs, the championship battle would likely be decided on Saturday, the season’s last day, with Chelsea merely requiring a draw against bottom-dwelling Reading.
If United defeated Liverpool on the road and Chelsea drew with Reading, they would still be able to win the championship, but they would need to overcome a six-goal deficit in their remaining two games.
Early on, Chelsea pinned Arsenal back; Kerr scored but was adjudged to be offside; nonetheless, the first real opportunity came to Arsenal on the counterattack; Ann-Katrin Berger stopped Stina Blackstenius, saving Perisset’s face after losing control in midfield.
However, Perisset was a part of Chelsea’s first goal as they grabbed a deserving lead. Reiten, who was unmarked, was discovered by her diagonal to the back post and slipped into the bottom right corner from ten yards out.
Frida Maanum’s powerful drive was blocked by Berger twice immediately after, while Kerr was stopped by Manuela Zinsberger at the other end.
However, Chelsea’s overwhelming dominance paid off when Eriksson, the retiring captain, scored from close range after Kerr generously headed across the face of the goal.
Even Jonas Eidevall, who was dressed in an army-green tracksuit for the journey to their London adversaries, couldn’t complain about the hosts taking their cushion.
At halftime, he switched to Steph Catley in place of Kathrine Kuhl, but this did nothing to stop the tide of goals as Zinsberger wonderfully stopped Pernille Harder early in the second half.
Foord’s far-post poke did strike the crossbar for Arsenal, and they were given a penalty after McCabe’s shot struck Ingle’s arm. McCabe took a stride forward but missed the right-hand post with her kick.
Katie McCabe missed the target with her penalty, but Chelsea should have scored a third goal in stoppage time when Jessie Fleming chose to pass to Kerr rather than go alone. The ball touched Lotte Wubben-Moy and was just blocked on the line by Zinsberger.
For Harder and Eriksson, who are leaving the squad this summer, it was the ideal Kingsmeadow send-off. An animated Hayes addressed the crowd after the game to give respect to the two and to the rest of her team, calling them all “f****** amazing!”