Women's Super League last day: 'Dreamland' awaits for title victors
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes will be "in dreamland" if her team wins the three-horse race for the Super League title on Sunday's final day of the campaign.
Top of the table Chelsea will start the day two points above second-placed Birmingham City and three ahead of reigning champions Liverpool.
It means victory at Manchester City will assure the London side of winning what would be the first major trophy in the 22-year history of the women's team.
And even if they are pipped for the title, second place would earn them a debut in the Champions League next season.
"It's already been a fantastic season for us after we finished second from bottom last year," said Hayes.
"Our objective this season was top four, so if you'd told me we'd be going into our last game with a shot at the title I'd have snapped your hand off.
"If we win the league I'll be in dreamland, but we've got a really tough game to end the season and I'm not thinking beyond those 90 minutes."
|Women's Super League (as of Friday 10 October)|
|Birmingham City Ladies||13||7||3||3||6||24|
|Notts County Ladies||13||4||5||4||4||17|
|Bristol Academy Ladies||13||5||1||7||-3||16|
|Manchester City Women||13||5||1||7||-4||16|
On their last visit to Manchester, Chelsea were beaten in the Continental Cup semi-final.
City might just have one eye on next Thursday's final, in which they face Arsenal, but Liverpool manager Matt Beard is confident that will not be the case.
"City have lost their last two league games and they won't want to go into a cup final on the back of three successive defeats," said Beard.
"Hopefully they will do us a favour, but in any case we've got to win our game against Bristol to give ourselves a chance and that's all we can do."
Former Chelsea boss Beard is desperate for at least a second-place finish in order to earn another season in the Champions League.
Liverpool, like opponents Bristol, are halfway through a last-32 Champions League tie, the Reds against Swedish side Linkoping and Academy against Dublin-based Raheny United.
Both English teams head into Thursday's second legs with a lead, Liverpool's 2-1 and Bristol's an emphatic 4-0.
But Beard said: "We've put the Champions League situation right out of our minds and we are totally focused on beating Bristol.
"We beat them on the last day of last season to win the league, and it would be fantastic if we could do it again."
To take the title Liverpool must not only win while Chelsea and Birmingham slip up, but also achieve a three-goal shift in goal difference.
In fact, Beard's team would be out of the race were it not for a controversial winner against Birmingham last month.
Fara Williams scored from the halfway line as the Reds kicked off after a Blues goal - but referee Stuart Richardson had not blown for the game to restart.
"That incident still rankles," said Birmingham manager David Parker. "Without that goal against us we would already be guaranteed a place in the top two.
"But we have to live with it and all we can do now is get the result we need against Notts County to finish at least second.
"That's easier said than done because Notts are a very hard team to break down, with the best defensive record in the league to prove it.
"But after reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League and pushing all the way for the WSL title, we'll be aiming to complete a very good year on a high."