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    Chelsea win the WSL title for the fourth time in a row in Reading

    This is the third straight home double for Chelsea, who won the Women's FA Cup trophy earlier this month. Credit: Getty Images/Justin Setterfield Reading v Chelsea Women's Copy WSL 2022-23 Match Summary

    Chelsea secured a fourth successive title by beating relegated Reading to deprive Manchester United of their first trophy and cement their status as an unstoppable force in the English women's game.

    In front of a crowd of traveling fans, Sam Kerr opened the scoring for the Blues just 18 minutes later with a header from a stunning cross from Guro Raiten.

    The Blues doubled their lead shortly before half-time when Reiten, one of Chelsea's standouts this season, took advantage of a botched back pass from Reading defender Easter Maya Keith to score in cold blood before Kerr, Chelsea's golden girl, struck again at the end of the match. stages.


    — Sky Sports WSL (@SkySportsWSL) May 27, 2023

    Chelsea's fourth consecutive crown marked their 14th major trophy in 11 seasons under manager Emma Hayes and another indication of their dominance is also their third successive campaign in which they have won at least the domestic FA Cup and FA Cup doubles. WSL.

    Reading, by contrast, had won just three games this season and needed a miracle to extend their eight-year tenure in the top flight, but everything was on the wall after Kerr's opening. Berkshire Club.

    They had to climb the mountain after Chelsea's second, and in truth, they never looked capable of pulling off what might have been the greatest disappointment in WSL history.

    Their manager, Kelly Chambers, was put on guard of honor for both teams ahead of the opening match to celebrate her 20th birthday as a former player and longtime coach at the club, makes no secret that her club doesn't have the same financial muscle as theirs peers, all of whom are supported by Premier League clubs.

    With the Reading men promoted to League One the following season, the women's team is already facing the prospect of operating on an even tighter budget next season, an unenviable problem given how much spending on the women's game has skyrocketed. For a team that has struggled with their weight for so long, the rise of the women's game has finally caught up with them.

    Analysis: why do Chelsea dominate the WSL so much?

    Tom Harry

    The fact that Chelsea are celebrating their fourth consecutive Women's Super League title may suggest an uncompetitive division, but it's actually quite different. to another. In fact, it's like Chelsea's hard-earned WSL title after an exciting four-way title battle.

    This was the third season in a row that the title race was decided on the final day, and even in the 2019-20 Covid season, Emma Hayes' team won by the widest points-per-second margin at the start of this run. – game metrics. This year the battle for the top spot has become more intense than ever as four teams were really in contention for the top spot and Manchester United for the first time in their short history alongside Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City. » seriously claimed it.

    < p>After Chelsea won the title with a 3-0 win over Reading, Hayes insisted her side didn't feel pressured. “I think when you’re always chasing the whole year because you lose the first game and then the games are cancelled, it feels like in a lot of ways we weren’t under pressure because we were never in the top positions for a long time. ,” she said.

    “We've had different experiences of being first and second, and to be honest, we love being in both. But I think this year we knew that sometimes we have to dig up results when we didn't create many chances and things like that. It's just the incredible nature of the players to do that, because I don't think anyone stood out. But I think it's the same off the field: my staff was just unrealistically supportive of the team.”

    For Chelsea, this campaign has been difficult in many ways. In addition to being sidelined by their manager in the fall – she was out of the touchline for six weeks after undergoing an emergency hysterectomy – they hadn't played Fran Kirby since the League Cup semi-finals in February due to a knee injury, they were without Dane Pernille. It's been tougher for about half of the season with a hamstring problem, and England centre-back Millie Bright has also been sidelined since March with a knee problem. However, they once again held back their rivals.

    Their 100% home record this season has been key, while Guro Raiten has been the team's star on the left flank. However, a major factor in Chelsea's staying at the top is their unabashed ability to apply pre-match pressure at the end of each season.

    Since the WSL switched from a summer calendar to a winter, Chelsea never lost a single WSL match in April or May. Once the fate of the WSL trophy is in their hands, they won't miss it. They have a 100 percent record since the beginning of April this semester, and the same record was held through April and May last semester.

    So why are they so good when the season comes down to a squeaky slacker? ? This wonderful late-ripening form is made up of three key ingredients.

    First, of course, it helps to have enough power in depth to be able to keep all your players fresh and change sides. For example, bringing stars like Harder off the bench at the end of the season is a luxury few can afford. On their bench in Reading on Saturday's final day were Canadian Olympic champions Jesse Fleming and Kadeisha Buchanan, England defender Jess Carter and Germany midfielder Melanie Leupolz. Keeping all those players on the team happy is another one of Hayes' most valuable skills.

    Secondly, Chelsea have become very proficient in sports science and medicine, ensuring that their players are at peak fitness at the end of the season. They carefully control the loading of players and work on programs that, in theory, should give the players the best results in the most important part of the season. This is partly due to the huge support staff, again aided by abundant financial resources, and players speak of a professional setup that is all about performance.

    Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, there is a culture of winning within the team, especially when big head-to-head games are approaching. That mentality was built into this club during Hayes' 11 years in office and it didn't happen overnight. It comes with the experience of having been here many times already.

    So while the west London team continues to dominate, it's not an elusive runaway train. Arsenal will point to their unfortunate list of longstanding injuries to key first team players including Beth Mead, Vivianne Midema, Leah Williamson, Laura Winreuther and Kim Little. They will come back stronger after what appears to be a busy transfer window for the North Londoners. And Manchester City could very well be a formidable force next season domestically, mostly because they won't be juggling any European football.

    Manchester United have also closed the gap significantly this season. It will hurt Mark Skinner's team that their best season to date has still seen them finish empty-handed without any silverware. But they certainly brought Hayes' team to the end.

    Speaking after his Manchester United team beat Liverpool 1-0, Skinner said: “Congratulations to Emma, ​​but this team is coming and hunt, so they'll have something to stay on top of their game.

    “We're closing that gap every single day. At the end of the season we have two points and next season we have to be even better. So if I were them, I would know Manchester United very, very well.

    Chelsea may be the dominant force in women's football in England, but it will only be harder to continue that dominance.”


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