Arsenal carried on their good work with a well-earned win 4-2 against bottom of the table team Birmingham.
It means the Gunners have opened a huge lead over Chelsea. They are eight points clear and this is getting very interesting as Chelsea still have three games in hand, but can potentially slip up in any of these three games.
The pressure has now moved to Emma Hayes’ side even if they are still in the driving seat.
Manchester United and Tottenham are in third place, one point behind Chelsea and therefore nine points behind the Gunners, with only one game in hand.
Therefore securing a top two place should be done with four wins out of the last six games.
At the bottom of the table, Birmingham are still eight points behind Leicester with six games to go.
They are likely to go down as investment has been poor from the parent club for a few years now.
They should get the blame if they go down rather than the players or the coaches who are fighting as hard as they can.
For this game, Jonas Eidevall made only two changes from the previous Reading game.
He rotated Noelle Maritz with Laura Wienroither coming in for her at right-back and Beth Mead replacing Catilin Foord on the wing.
The team was Zinsberger; Wienroither, Williamson, Rafaelle, Catley; Walti, Little; Mead, Miedema, Blackstenius, McCabe.
One interesting point to note is Walti has taken over Maanum for the central midfield place with the Swiss player having started the last five games and with the Norwegian player coming on as a sub.
At some points, Eidevall had tried to play those two players together alongside Kim Little, but it did not seem to be right in terms of midfield balance.
The recent arrival of Blackstenius in attack and the re-positioning of Miedema in 10/9-and-a-half position has impacted those two players as well as Jordan Nobbs who had started all the games in 2022 until Blackstenius got in the starting XI pairing with Miedema.
It seems that the midfield is more balanced and stable with Walti and Little as a double pivot rather than Maanum and Little.
There are some question marks as conceding two goals in quick succession and a bit of panicking reminds us that not all problems have been solved defensively, even if having a stable back four with Rafaelle coming in and Williamson back from injury has given the team more security.
Games are coming thick and fast with five more games before the end of the month including the Champions league quarter-final v Wolfsburg and the North London Derby at the Emirates Stadium sandwiched between those games.
All the games are now must win and these are big challenges.
The really good news is we have a clean bill of health with only Nikita Parris missing out through injury. It means players are actually left out of the 20-player matchday squad in the league and it shows how much strength in depth is available for the manager.
For the Champions League games, the squad is 23 players, so everybody will get on the teamsheet.
Also having five substitutions allows a lot more players to be involved and keep them happy.
This is so important as unhappiness could derail the team when players start to complain about their lack of game time.
Football management these days is a lot more than what happens on the pitch and in training.
People management is a key part of the job and hopefully Jonas Eidevall will be up to it.
Arsenal opens a five point
gap over Chelsea with a routine 4-0 Reading win
After their win over Reading, Arsenal are now five points clear of Chelsea, who have two games in hand, and nine points clear of fourth placed Manchester United.
It means, barring a huge collapse in the last seven games, Arsenal will qualify for the Champions League next season.
There is a new incentive to finish in the top two places, too.
The first qualifying round will be played August 18 and 21. These are the same dates as this season and we saw how disruptive that was for players who went to the Olympics, with injuries and lack of rest.
Next summer, the situation will be the same with the Euros in England.
The team playing the first Champions League qualifying round will get a messed-up, short preseason.
Round 2 has been moved back to the end of September, while this year it was played at the end of August.
Manchester City famously decided not to play any friendlies due to preseason problems and subsequently ended up being eliminated by Real Madrid.
So, a top two finish is crucial to give players a rest in a season that will lead up to the Women’s World Cup 2023.
Winning the league means direct qualification to the lucrative group stages, unlike the current season where Chelsea were set to enter Round 2, but were bumped up after Barcelona won the Spanish League and the WCL.
The Reading game on Sunday went as well as it could be expected.
Jonas Eidevall made few changes to the team that beat Liverpool on Sunday.
He started his new striking partnership Miedema – Blackstenius aka Vivstenius, as well Zinsberger in goal.
By scoring early enough and with two goals in two minutes, it gave the team a cushion to manage and control the game.
Then with the team 3-0 up at half-time, it allowed the Arsenal manager the luxury to use his five substitutions and balance minutes for those who needed them and rest for those who will be playing a lot in March.
The remaining games in March are:
06 Mar Birmingham City H FA WSL
13 Mar Brighton and Hove A FA WSL
20 Mar Coventry United H FA Cup
23 Mar Wolfsburg H UWCL
26 Mar Tottenham H FA WSL
31 Mar Wolfsburg A UWCL
It will be such a busy period that the whole squad will surely be involved as Arsenal will try to carry on staying in both Cup and keep the lead in the League.
A treble is unlikely right now, but still possible.