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Five storylines that will define the rest of the FAWSL season

Marcelo Poletto de Oliveira/Sports Press Photo

There is plenty up for grabs as this FA Women’s Super League campaign approaches its halfway point. Defending champions Chelsea are locked in a title race with table-topping Arsenal, who currently enjoy a four-point lead. Behind them, there is a legitimate case for six teams to be considered in the running for Champions League qualification. Even at the bottom of the league, there is a compelling relegation battle transpiring between Leicester and Birmingham City.

With competition for silverware, European places and survival, there are plenty of talking points. Here, we will dig into the major storylines that could define the rest of the FA WSL season.

Just how much have Arsenal improved?

Arsenal began their season by beating Chelsea 3-2. With Beth Mead and Vivanne Miedema on fire, the Gunners constantly got in behind their opponent’s new-look defense with direct play. That match offered glimpses of an Arsenal rejuvenated by new manager Jonas Eidevall, a side that was more open to using different tactics in order to win the big games.

Since then, however, that flexibility has not been on show. Arsenal lined up and played exactly as everyone expected them to in a worryingly one-sided 3-0 FA Cup final loss to Chelsea in early December. They also endured a nerve-racking 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur that required a 92nd-minute equalizer from Miedema, and they were hammered in the Champions League by Barcelona and Hoffenheim.

Those performances showed that Arsenal continue to have difficulty when unable to impose their preferred style of short build-up play on tough opponents. Three of their major summer signings — Tobin Heath, Mana Iwabuchi and Nikita Parris — have not yet made a real impact, playing a combined total of 905 minutes of FA WSL soccer. Incorporating them more may give the team fresh impetus and ideas in the second half of the season.

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