Chelsea have moved to within one point of WSL leaders Manchester United four days before the pair meet in a top of the clash at Kingsmeadow, having beaten Brighton 3-1 on Wednesday night.

Arsenal have additionally squeezed the top of the table with their win over Liverpool, also on Wednesday, claiming an overdue first league victory of 2023 to go just three points behind third place Manchester City with a game in hand.

Emma Hayes’ Chelsea responded to their Conti Cup final defeat at the hands of the Gunners – only four players kept their starting place – by taking an early lead against Brighton through a Guro Reiten penalty. By that stage, Johanna Rytting Kaneryd had already seen an effort cleared off the line.

England defender Jess Carter went on to double the lead for the reigning champions midway through the first half. Jelena Cankovic hit the bar and Sam Kerr had a goal ruled out for offside, but Rytting Kaneryd grabbed Chelsea’s third with just under 20 minutes left.

Danielle Carter scored a late consolation for Brighton, who are back under the control of interim boss Amy Merricks following the shock departure of manager Jens Scheuer.

Arsenal also secured victory by a two-goal margin over at Meadow Park but managed to keep a clean sheet against a Liverpool side that have the league’s second least prolific attack.

It was a comfortable win for Jonas Eidevall’s team decided by two goals within the space of six first half minutes. Stina Blackstenius broke the deadlock for the Gunners after controlling the ball on her chest, before Caitlin Foord’s header not long after.

It might have been more, but Leah Williamson had an early goal disallowed for offside.

Arsenal’s next game sees them face struggling Reading at home in Sunday’s late kick-off.

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