Chelsea cruised to a 4-0 victory at West Ham thanks to goals from Niamh Charles, Pernille Harder, Sophie Ingle and Erin Cuthbert to leave themselves just two wins from a fourth consecutive Women’s Super League title.
The victory puts Emma Hayes’ side two points clear of Manchester United and five clear of Arsenal with just two games to play. They will eliminate the Gunners from contention if they avoid defeat when the two sides meet on Sunday, with Chelsea then ending their campaign at Reading on May 27.
The Blues dominated throughout at the Dagenham and Redbridge Stadium and took the lead after just 13 minutes through Charles, while West Ham were a touch fortunate to be only one goal down at half-time after a series of risky Hawa Cissoko challenges in the area.
But Chelsea doubled their lead shortly after half-time through Harder and the points were secured by Ingle’s close-range header and Cuthbert’s powerful drive, with the result leaving West Ham eighth and still without a league win in 2023.
West Ham: Arnold (5), Shimizu (5), Fisk (5), Cissoko (4), Tysiak (5), Smith (5), Evans (6), Parker (6), Longhurst (6), Brynjarsdottir (6), Asseyi (5).
Subs: Snerle (5), Thestrup (5), Hayashi (5), Atkinson (n/a).
Chelsea: Musovic (6), Carter (7), Buchanan (7), Eriksson (7), Charles (8), Ingle (9), Fleming (7), Kaneryd (8), Cankovic (7), Harder (8), Kerr (6).
Subs: Reiten (7), James (7), Cuthbert (7), Svitkova (n/a), Abdullina (n/a).
Player of the match: Sophie Ingle.
How Chelsea closed on another WSL title
Arsenal’s win at Everton earlier on Wednesday raised the stakes for Chelsea ahead of kick-off at West Ham and ensured three teams will still be in title contention ahead of the penultimate round of fixtures.
But the Blues know they have the title in their hands after their fifth win in a row, while their victory over the Hammers also officially ruled Manchester City out of contention for top spot.
- West Ham brought in Smith, Shimizu and Tysiak for Atkinson, Snerle and Denton
- Chelsea made seven changes to the side that beat Manchester United in the FA Cup final, with Musovic, Ingle, Carter, Kaneryd, Harder, Buchanan and Cankovic coming in
West Ham made their intentions of frustrating Chelsea clear with their five-player defence but the plan fell apart after just 13 minutes when Charles swept in the rebound after Sam Kerr’s shot was blocked.
Cissoko could have earlier conceded a penalty when she moved her arm into the way of a shot, with the West Ham defender then escaping punishment for a clumsy tackle on Johanna Rytting Kaneryd and only seeing a free-kick awarded for a push on Kerr on the edge of the area.
Mackenzie Arnold made a smart stop from Harder before the half was out but she could get nowhere near her effort in the 48th minute, with the Denmark international lashing the ball into the far corner after being set up by Ingle.
The midfielder then added her name to the scoresheet when Arnold tipped Magdalena Eriksson’s header onto the bar, only to see the ball fall to Ingle just yards from goal.
Amalie Thestrup saw a shot cleared off the line by Jessica Carter and Kate Longhurst drilled a half-volley just over as West Ham searched for a consolation goal, only to see Cuthbert come off the bench to smash in Chelsea’s fourth in stoppage time.
Chelsea are now unbeaten in 10 WSL games against West Ham – nine of which have been wins – while they have lost just one of their last 25 London derbies in the competition.
West Ham visit Leicester in their penultimate WSL fixture on Sunday May 21 at 3pm before finishing at home against Tottenham on Saturday May 27, kick-off 2.30pm.
Chelsea continue their title quest with a huge fixture at home to Arsenal on Sunday May 21, kick-off 12.30pm, before completing their season at Reading on Saturday May 27, kick-off 2.30pm.