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Chelsea peg back Arsenal’s lead

For the second week running, Arsenal went into their game with an opportunity to extend their lead at the top, this time due to Chelsea’s involvement in the Continental Cup Final.

The Gunners took on Birmingham City, bottom of the table, but the only team to have beaten Arsenal in the league so far this season. Any hopes of a repeat look to have been scotched as Rafaelle Souza and Vivianne Miedema put Arsenal two ahead after half an hour, and Beth Mead made it three midway through the second half. The Blues then staged a fightback with Libby Smith and Lucy Quinn reducing the deficit to one, before Caitlin Foord finally sealed a 4-2 win in injury time, which means that Arsenal have now gone eight points clear.

Chelsea’s cup commitments also meant that Tottenham Hotspur had a chance to replace them in second place, if they could win away to Reading FC Women. Ashleigh Neville did hit the post for them in the first half but despite chances for both sides, neither could make a breakthrough and the match finished goalless.

Tottenham therefore slip back a place over the weekend to fourth as, they day before, Manchester Utd had reclaimed third place with a 4-0 victory over Leicester City. Martha Thomas put United ahead after sixteen minutes and Alessia Russo made it two on the half hour mark. United crowned the win with two further goals in five second half minutes from Katie Zelem - both of which remarkably were scored direct from corners. The win means that United are one point behind Chelsea - having played two games more - and ahead of Tottenham on goal difference.

The weekend had opened up with Brighton & Hove Albion winning 1-0 away to Aston Villa. Maya Le Tissier volleyed in the only goal of the game in the 28th minute, to earn the Seagulls a second straight league win and move them back up to seventh in the table.

On Thursday night, Chelsea put their Continental Cup Final disappointment behind them to win 4-1 away to West Ham Utd and close the gap on Arsenal to five points. Chelsea started the match in determined fashion and took a firm grip with three goals in a twelve minute spell during the first half. Pernille Harder opened the scoring and Niamh Charles added a second three minutes later, before Harder netted her second just after the half hour. Dagny Brynjarsdottir gave the Hammers hope when she pulled a goal back early in the second half but any hopes of a fightback were ended when Sam Kerr scored a fourth for the reigning Champions.