Black Cats are in for the kill
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