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Big prizes up for grabs in FA Women’s Super League with five games left to play for main contenders


Broadcasters who have backed the Barclays FA Women’s Super League will hope next season’s narratives at the top and bottom are as compelling as this.

Battles to be crowned champions, seal a Champions League spot or avoid relegation are still up in the air with five games remaining for most teams.

Bottom side West Ham jettisoned head coach Matt Beard in December and their mid-season change in leadership is yet to pay off as they fight to escape the one relegation place.

Barclays FA WSL

Evans strike earns Bristol City draw with Spurs in WSL

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21/03/2021 AT 17:13

New boss Olli Harder joined the club from Norwegian football and the six games of his tenure thus far have yielded a measly two points.

The 34-year-old is facing the biggest challenge of his career, nine years on from coaching an under-11 team in Connecticut.

“The big thing for us is mentality,” Harder said of the survival scrap.

“This is never an easy situation for a manager, for a football club or for an individual player.

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It’s the old cliche of digging deep and reflecting on yourself. These players, my staff, myself and the club all have to pinpoint the things that we need to be doing to make sure we’re in this league next year.

Harder simply has to engineer a victory in two remaining fixtures against third bottom Aston Villa to have a chance of achieving his goal.

Beard swapped the Hammers for Bristol City but remains involved in the same fight at the foot of the table with the Vixens a single point above his former side.

It seems they have been able to stave off any psychological damage from a 6-0 shellacking by Chelsea in the final of the FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup.

That’s one of the things you could glean from their battling display to come back from behind and claim a 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur.

He said: “We need consistency from start to finish because we know we can compete with these teams week in, week out.”

Both Second City sides could get dragged into the dogfight with Villa in particular teetering on their first season in the top flight.

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They have now lost their last three games without scoring a goal and suffered seven defeats in the last nine.

“We know that we can pick up points along the way with the remaining games we’ve got,” said defender Jodie Hutton, despite facing Chelsea and Manchester City in their next three.

And it is those two sides fighting it out at the top of the table with Emma Hayes’s Blues showing no signs of a chink in their armoury in recent weeks.

Maren Mjelde’s season-ending injury seems to have only galvanised the playing group and a 2-1 win over Wolfsburg in the Champions League was a high point of a superb campaign.

City had contrasting fortunes in Europe with a 3-0 defeat to Barcelona – it remains to be seen whether missing out on the continent will help their domestic ambitions.

There remain the old concerns about imbalances in the Super League, with the bottom six teams winning a combined two of their last 30 games. Only Reading’s 2-0 win over Manchester United stands out as a shock.

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The money from Sky’s broadcast deal, pegged at £8m per season, will in part be distributed evenly and its other part divided on merit, meaning it is far from guaranteed to close the gap.

But the backing is now there. All that’s left for us is to sit back and watch.

Barclays FA WSL

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Barclays FA WSL

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