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WSL: What's at stake in final round this weekend?

Gareth Taylor points during training session
Fans were calling for Gareth Taylor to be sacked earlier in the season
Women’s Super League – West Ham vs Arsenal
Venue: Chigwell Construction Stadium Date: Sunday 8 May Kick-off: 12pm
Coverage: Watch on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport website

The Women’s Super League season concludes on Sunday with the title and the final Champions League place still up for grabs, with all six matches kicking off at the same time.

The bottom of the table is already sewn up after Birmingham City’s 6-0 defeat at Manchester City on Wednesday sent them into the Championship.

But with so much at stake at the other end of the table, here are some things to keep an eye out for.

Will Chelsea or Arsenal come out on top?

It’s all the play for in the title race, with leaders Chelsea one point ahead of Arsenal heading into the final round of fixtures.

Arsenal travel to West Ham knowing they need the Blues to drop points to have a shot at winning the title. If they are victorious and Chelsea draw or lose to Manchester United, the Gunners win the title.

If Emma Hayes’ side lose, a draw would also be enough to see Jonas Eidevall’s side crowned champions on goal difference.

Chelsea have a simpler task – win and they claim the trophy for the third consecutive season.

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When Eidevall was asked if he will be a United supporter this weekend, the Arsenal boss said: “I really, really hope Man United can win. Of course, I would be lying if I said anything else. I really hope United can finish off in a style their season deserves.”

Hayes dismissed the idea of feeling stress over the title race, saying: “This isn’t pressure. Look at the cost of living, look at inflation, look at the rising costs for people to pay their bills. This is far from pressure. This is a joy.

“I get nervous when my child is riding too fast on his bike heading towards the end of the road. Trust you me this morning I was terrified of his speed. that’s nerves. This is pleasure.”

She also played down her team’s rivalry with Arsenal.

“It’s just Arsenal this year and last year it was [Manchester] City,” Hayes said. “I think Jonas [Eidevall] has been a brilliant addition to the league. In terms of raising the standards at Arsenal and putting them in the front foot position to compete for the title.”

Manchester rivals battle for top three

Manchester United were neck-and-neck with Manchester City in the battle for third place until they were held to a 0-0 draw by Aston Villa. City won their game in hand on Wednesday and have a two-point advantage over their rivals, with Champions League qualification now in their own hands.

Gareth Taylor’s side will face Reading on Sunday, while United take on leaders Chelsea. Even if United win, City’s vastly superior goal difference means a draw will likely be enough for them.

United manager Marc Skinner said not qualifying for Europe would hurt.

“It would be a blow to us because we have high expectations of ourselves,” he said. “I think we’ve progressed and now we need to make the psychological jumps to be real competition all the time.”

It has been quite the turnaround for City who have bounced back from a turbulent start to the campaign, which saw them in eighth at one stage, to now lie in third.

Taylor, who faced questions around his position earlier in the season, said the revival was down to “perseverance and hard work”.

Vivianne Miedema runs with the ball
Vivianne Miedema has scored 14 WSL goals this season

Could this be Miedema’s last game for Arsenal?

Arsenal’s star striker, Vivianne Miedema, will turn out for her club this weekend with her future still up in the air. Her contract runs out this summer and she is yet to agree a new deal.

There has been reported interest from Women’s Champions League holders Barcelona, while the Netherlands international recently said the club she plays for next season must match her trophy ambitions.

Since joining the club in 2017, the 25-year-old has broken numerous goalscoring records, including becoming the all-time WSL record scorer and the first player in the league to have 100 goal involvements.

Gunners supporters will be hoping the club will persuade her to stay but Eidevall said there was no news to report on Miedema’s contract situation.

Last-chance saloon for some managers?

There has been a high turnover of managers this season, with four losing their jobs, and this weekend presents another opportunity for those on short-term deals to impress.

Leicester City’s Lydia Bedford, who took over in November, has kept the club in the top flight and once again has a chance to prove why she should stay in the post against Tottenham.

Birmingham City’s interim head coach Darren Carter, meanwhile, will want to end the season on a high against Aston Villa to hopefully keep his position, despite being relegated.

And while it would seem unlikely that Hope Powell’s job could be in danger at Brighton, the team were chasing the Champions League positions earlier in the the season but they have now lost five WSL games in a row.

Their opposition this weekend, Everton, confirmed on Friday that their interim manager Chris Roberts will stay at the club next season as an assistant coach to new boss Brian Sorensen.

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