Black Cats are in for the kill

The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY - By Joshua Richards

THE des­ti­na­tion of the Women’s Su­per League 1 ti­tle could be­come clearer to­day with all of the top five in ac­tion – and Sun­der­land midfielder Brooke Chaplen knows a vic­tory for her side could tilt the odds in their favour.

The sec­ond-placed Black Cats, pro­moted last sea­son, travel to rel­e­ga­tion-threat­ened Birm­ing­ham, while the di­vi­sion’s form team, Manch­ester City, head to Notts County and lead­ers Chelsea round off the week­end at Ar­se­nal.

Just three points sep­a­rate the top four, with Notts County a fur­ther three points be­hind in fifth.

Sun­der­land have been the sur­prise pack­age in WSL this sea­son, blow­ing teams away with their brand of at­tack­ing football that has brought striker Beth Mead 11 goals in ten games.

But Chaplen, who ex­pe­ri­enced the pain of rel­e­ga­tion with for­mer em­ploy­ers Ever­ton last year, ac­knowl­edges even a 1-0 win will do nicely.

“We’ll ac­cept maybe not putting on the best dis­play at this stage of the sea­son, as long as we get the three points,” said the 26-year-old.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to sec­ond guess what is go­ing to hap­pen. Ev­ery­one has to play each other, points will be dropped, it could go many ways – it’s ex­cit­ing.

“It would be amaz­ing for the club to win the league. For me, per­son­ally, hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced rel­e­ga­tion with Ever­ton, it would be an in­cred­i­ble feel­ing.

“Though there does not seem many games to go, it’s ac­tu­ally a third of the sea­son and any­thing can hap­pen.


“Our man­ager, Carl­ton Fair­weather, has been very good at keep­ing our feet on the floor. Even when we have been sit­ting in the top half of the ta­ble it was al­ways about get­ting math­e­mat­i­cally safe.

“In the last cou­ple of weeks, we have started to look at what’s go­ing on at the top.We are prop­erly pre­pared.”

Ar­se­nal and Chelsea go head to head for the fourth time this sea­son in the evening’s tele­vised game.

Chelsea were vic­to­ri­ous in their FA Cup quar­ter-fi­nal, en route to lift­ing the tro­phy, but were beaten 2-0 in last week­end’s Con­ti­nen­tal Tyres Cup clash, with Marta Corred­era prov­ing the dif­fer­ence be­tween them with both the goals.

Their cor­re­spond­ing league meet­ing at Wheat­sheaf Park was a hard-fought goal­less draw, but Ar­se­nal de­fender Jemma Rose wants to send their sup­port­ers home from Bore­ham Wood with some­thing to shout about.

“It’s so close at the top of the ta­ble that it’s cru­cial we win and play well for our fans,” said the for­mer Bristol and Birm­ing­ham star.

“Be­fore I signed this sea­son, I didn’t re­alise how sig­nif­i­cant the fans were at Ar­se­nal – not just at the games but on so­cial media and send­ing us fan mail.

“It makes a huge dif­fer­ence and, hope­fully, we can use this to our favour and get off to a good start against Chelsea.”

Manch­ester City beat Sun­der­land in the Con­ti­nen­tal Tyres Cup last week­end to record their sev­enth vic­tory in a row.

In fact, they have won ev­ery game since the end of the World Cup and can close the gap on the lead­ers fur­ther if they see off FA Cup run­ners-up Notts County at Meadow Lane.


RED ALERT: Brooke Chaplen of Sun­der­land, right, is chal­lenged by Notts County’s Alex Greenwood and Beth Mead shoots against Birstol academy, inset

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