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Chelsea host Manchester United in a huge top of the table clash in the Women’s Super League on Sunday, pitting the reigning champions against the pretenders to the throne.

Chelsea were awarded last season’s title ahead of Manchester City on a points per game basis when the season was abandoned. But United have emerged as a brand new challenger in 2020/21 in what is only their second year as a WSL club.

The pair met on the opening weekend of the new season at United’s Leigh Sports Village home and played out a 1-1 draw – a fair result in the end. Both are the only WSL teams still unbeaten, neither has really put a foot wrong in the four months since then.

Kirsty Smith, Guro Reiten
It was 1-1 when Man Utd & Chelsea met in September | James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images

Ahead of kick-off on Sunday afternoon, United lead the way by three points. Chelsea have a game in hand and a victory would mean leapfrogging their opponents into first place by virtue of a slightly stronger goal difference. A draw would maintain the gap as it is, but still give Chelsea the opportunity to claw it back with their extra game, while United will be hoping for a landmark win.

It was only recently that Casey Stoney’s side got their first league win over one of the WSL’s ‘big three’, beating Arsenal in November. They then held their own in a Manchester derby the very next game, actually coming back from 2-0 to showcase their grit and fight.

United are yet to beat in three previous meetings in any competition and will see this as an important hurdle to clear in their quest to become part of the established WSL heavyweights. Chelsea, however, haven’t lost in 30 WSL games.

Emma Hayes
Emma Hayes has led Chelsea to WSL games unbeaten | Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images

When Is Kick Off? Sunday 17 January
What Time Is Kick Off? 14:30 (GMT)
Where Is It Played? Kingsmeadow
TV Channel? BT Sport (UK)

Having recovered from a heart condition that brought her close to retirement, Fran Kirby is in sparkling form for Chelsea scored four times against Reading last time out.

Blues boss Emma Hayes has a ridiculous array of attacking talent to call on, with Pernille Harder, Ji So-yun and Bethany England only appearing from the bench in that Reading game.

Fran Kirby
Fran Kirby is in top form for Chelsea | Visionhaus/Getty Images

Tobin Heath and Christen Press were both left off this month’s USWNT squad list, while Leah Galton will be looking to continue her fine form, having been WSL player of the month for December.

United have bid farewell to left-back Lotta Okvist this week. The Swede arrived at the club in the summer of 2019 as a direct replacement for Alex Greenwood, but she struggled to nail down a regular place and has joined Damallsvenskan champions Kopparbergs/Goteborg.

Tobin Heath
Man Utd will be looking to Tobin Heath | James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images

Chelsea

Reading 0-5 Chelsea – WSL (10 Jan)
Chelsea 3-0 Benfica – Champions League (16 Dec)
Brighton 0-1 Chelsea – WSL (13 Dec)
Benfica 0-5 Chelsea – Champions League (9 Dec)
Chelsea 3-2 West Ham – WSL (6 Dec)

Manchester United

Man Utd 6-1 Bristol City – WSL (20 Dec)
Everton 1-0 Man Utd – Continental Cup (16 Dec)
Reading 1-2 Man Utd – WSL (13 Dec)
Aston Villa 0-2 Man Utd – WSL (5 Dec)
Man Utd 0-0 Man City (AET – Man City 4-4 on penalties) – Continental Cup (19 Nov)

Casey Stoney
Casey Stoney will make sure Man Utd are prepared | James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images

Chelsea have a deeper and objectively better squad than Manchester United, but that gap is gradually closing because the latter is improving.

This will be a tight game likely to be dominated by two strong defensive units and United have shown this season they can handle Chelsea.

The WSL title won’t be won or lost here, with plenty of games still to come.

Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!



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