Chelsea were crowned Women’s Super League champions for the second year running with victory over Reading on the final day, but which five games defined their season?
A 33-game unbeaten run, one defeat in 22 matches and a league-high 69 goals – it has been a memorable campaign for Chelsea, who still remain on course to win the quadruple.
But which game sparked a response? When did Sam Kerr treat the fans? And how crucial were results against title rivals Manchester City?
Chelsea 9-0 Bristol City (13 September)
Chelsea’s first victory of the season was a memorable one.
The Blues thrashed Bristol City and it was made more impressive by the fact they had nine different goalscorers.
Niamh Charles scored on her debut after Fran Kirby had opened Chelsea’s account with her first goal for 16 months, making her return from pericarditis.
It was a demonstration of Chelsea’s squad depth, something which has been key to them defending their WSL title and reaching this season’s Champions League final.
Strangely, Chelsea were not the only ones to score nine that weekend – Arsenal also beat West Ham 9-1.
Chelsea 3-1 Manchester City (11 October)
Chelsea’s victory over rivals Manchester City at Kingsmeadow back in October ultimately proved crucial to the defence of their title.
Maren Mjelde scored a controversial first-half penalty after Ellen White was penalised for handball, despite it striking Demi Stokes.
But Kirby went on to set up Kerr – a combination which has featured heavily this season – before the England international slotted in a late third.
Chelsea were unbeaten against City this season, overcoming them in the Community Shield and the League Cup, as well as picking up four points against them in the league.
Chelsea 3-2 West Ham (6 December)
Kerr scored her first hat-trick for Chelsea when they beat West Ham in December.
The victory was significant because it helped Chelsea set a record of 12 successive WSL home wins.
It was also in front of 700 supporters at Kingsmeadow – the first WSL game to welcome fans since the easing of Covid-19 restrictions – and the first time those fans had watched Chelsea since they were crowned 2019-20 champions.
Chelsea 1-2 Brighton (7 February)
Chelsea’s 33-game unbeaten run ended when they lost to a struggling Brighton side in February.
Manager Emma Hayes had left Ji So-yun, Pernille Harder and Fran Kirby on the bench but needed to bring all three on 10 minutes into the second half.
They could not find the winner, though, and Megan Connolly scored for Brighton from a corner in the 78th minute to cause a shock.
“They [Brighton] had three shots on target and scored two goals. That’s extremely poor from us,” Hayes said after the game.
How did Chelsea respond to their only WSL defeat of the season? They went and beat Arsenal 3-0 and conceded one goal in their next seven games in all competitions.
Manchester City 2-2 Chelsea (21 April)
Tipped to be the title decider, Chelsea travelled to Academy Stadium last month to take on rivals Manchester City.
The draw ensured the title remained in Chelsea’s hands with two games remaining.
It was a frantic game with Lauren Hemp scoring a late equaliser for City, Chelsea keeper Ann-Katrin Berger pulling off one of the saves of the season and Kerr being denied when through one-on-one at the end.
Hayes celebrated heavily at full-time and described the experience of being on the touchline as “hell”.
Chelsea knew they would claim the title with wins over Tottenham and Reading – which they achieved – after booking their place in the Champions League final.
Not a bad few weeks.