With Arsenal and Chelsea locked in a fierce battle for the Women’s Super League title, managers Emma Hayes and Jonas Eidevall are both desperate for the bragging rights.
Chelsea sit one point ahead of the Gunners heading into the final weekend of the season and a third consecutive title remains in their hands.
The relationship between Eidevall and Hayes has been somewhat fractious ever since the first game of the season. The Gunners upset the defending champions at the Emirates –– emerging 3-2 victors, thanks to some questionable decisions by the officials.
This is Eidevall’s first season in the WSL but he has not shied away from controversy –– often making digs at Hayes’ team throughout the campaign.
Ahead of the final round of fixtures, here’s a closer look at the story behind the rivalry.
What have they clashed on?
After beating the Blues at the Emirates on the opening day, Eidivevall celebrated wildly on the touchline.
Hayes, who had rested many of her top stars, including Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby, said she was acting in the best interest of her team and that Arsenal’s decision not to rest players may come back to haunt them.
“I will say from years of experience, let’s fast forward to the end of the season and see the impact,” she stressed.
A few months later the sides met again in the FA Cup final as Chelsea thrashed the Gunners 3-0.
Eidevall had admitted in the build up to the match that he was superstitious about black cats and Hayes couldn’t resist a sly dig at the Swedish manager.
“Everything about us… we just purred from start to finish,” she said.
Most recently, Eidevall has questioned why Chelsea were allowed to re-arrange fixtures in January.
Arsenal lost to the now relegated Birmingham City at the start of 2022, while Chelsea managed to avoid playing without star striker Kerr, who was away on international duty at the Asian Cup.
“I am very disappointed with the lack of transparency in the reasons behind postponing games and how long they take to reschedule,” Eidevall said.
In response, Hayes appeared unflustered by these allegations and stated: “I don’t care.”
🎙️ "I don't care!"— Sky Sports WSL (@SkySportsWSL) May 2, 2022
Emma Hayes responds to Jonas Eidevall's recent comments about fixture rescheduling…👇 pic.twitter.com/5PeQvmA9r1
Who will win the WSL?
The two sides have met four times this season, with Chelsea winning twice in the FA Cup, Arsenal winning once in the league, and a stalemate in the reverse fixture.
The Gunners have only suffered one league defeat this season, compared to Chelsea’s two, but have their work cut out to win the title this weekend.
However, Eidevall’s side certainly have the easier fixture of the two teams on paper. Arsenal face West Ham, while Chelsea host Manchester United –– a team that are still in the hunt for Champions League football next season.
The permutations are simple. Arsenal must better Chelsea’s result to win the WSL. If the Gunners win, and the Blues draw or lose –– the title will be theirs. Any other results will see Hayes’ side finish top for the third year in a row.