The Women’s Super League season is edging closer to the finish line and there is still plenty to play for.
Chelsea are bidding to win a third successive league title but are playing catch-up on leaders Arsenal, who have just five games remaining.
While those two teams battle for top spot, the race for the third and final Champions League qualification place is heating up with both Manchester clubs going head-to-head.
Birmingham City look set for relegation but will there be any more twists to come before the season ends?
Can Chelsea defend their title again?
Because of postponed matches following Covid-19 cases, Chelsea have spent most of the campaign trailing Arsenal – and they still have a game in hand after Wednesday’s match against Tottenham was called off.
Emma Hayes’ side currently sit two points off the top in second place but would overtake Arsenal if they win that rearranged fixture against Spurs.
The top two also play each other in the semi-finals of the FA Cup on 17 April but don’t meet again in the league. They drew 0-0 in February after Arsenal beat Chelsea 3-2 in the opening match of the season.
Arsenal’s toughest match in the run-in is arguably this weekend when they take on rivals Spurs at Emirates Stadium less than 48 hours after playing in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Chelsea have got Manchester United, currently in third place, at home on the final day and Hayes thinks it could come down to that 8 May meeting.
“Everybody knows there’s a long way to go. It will go – as I’ve said all along – all the way to the wire and I stand by that,” she said.
“We have to win every single game. If we drop points then it’s clearly in Arsenal’s hands.”
Who will qualify for the Champions League?
The top three in the WSL all qualify for next season’s Champions League and, with Arsenal and Chelsea set to take two spots, there is one left up for grabs.
Manchester United head Manchester City on goal difference, while fifth-placed Tottenham have an extra game to play but four points to make up.
Manchester United goalkeeper Mary Earps told BBC Sport they were “surrounded by great teams” and the WSL has shown this season how competitive it is.
“You can’t take anything for granted,” she added. “The favourites can get turned over and the underdogs can put up mad fights to win. That’s the beauty of this league – that it’s so competitive.
“It makes it so exciting, but also really tough. Champions have to be consistent and that’s what we’re aiming for – excellence in every performance.”
So who has the toughest run-in?
City do not play anyone else in the current top five in their remaining fixtures, while United – who are just two goals better off than their neighbours – have to travel to Chelsea on the final day.
Meanwhile, Spurs have to play Chelsea twice, as well as Arsenal at the Emirates, so it could become a two-horse race between the Manchester clubs that goes to a dramatic finale.
“For us, to be where we are and in these last five games of the season to be fighting, is a privilege,” said United boss Marc Skinner.
“It’s where we want to be. It’s not about the pressure, it’s about the privilege. We’ve earned the right to be here so I’ll remind my players that every single day.”
Is there any hope for Birmingham City?
Birmingham are bottom of the table and eight points behind Leicester – but with a far worse goal difference too.
With just five games left, interim coach Darren Carter’s side would need to win at least three of those – having only tasted victory once all season – and hope Leicester do not pick up any more points.
To make their task even harder, Birmingham have to travel to the Academy Stadium to play Manchester City, before hosting Chelsea and ending the season away to city rivals Aston Villa.
Last season’s relegated side, Bristol City, went down having picked up three times as many points as Birmingham currently have.