Five talking points from the Barclays FA Women’s Super League weekend
It was back to business for clubs in the Women’s Super League this weekend following the international pause and it will come as no surprise that there were goals and drama galore. Ella Jerman looks at the five biggest talking points of the weekend.
Chelsea ignite early title tussle
After failing to come close to retaining their league title or qualifying for the Women’s Champions League last season, some were beginning to doubt Chelsea’s credentials as title contenders for the 2019/20 campaign – but judging by Sunday’s performance against Arsenal, it looks like they couldn’t have been more wrong.
The Blues suffered a 5-0 defeat to the Gunners in the same fixture last year and Sunday certainly told a tale of revenge as Emma Hayes’ side produced a spirited second-half comeback to down their opponents 2-1 in front of a crowd of 4,149 at Kingsmeadow.
The tight, entertaining encounter was fittingly won by a stunning 25-yard strike from substitute Maria Thorisdottir with just five minutes to spare after Beth England had already cancelled out Danielle van de Donk’s early opener.
The result takes Chelsea one point clear of Arsenal in second in the WSL table and to add to the positives, the 4,149 attendance is 81 more than AFC Wimbledon brought in for their recent home game against Rochdale, suggesting the decision to host their opening game of the season at Stamford Bridge has certainly paid off.
United beginning to find their feet
Manchester City and Arsenal are not the first two teams any club wants to see on their fixture list but now they’re out of the way, Manchester United are loving life in the top-flight.
Casey Stoney’s side comfortably beat struggling Liverpool before the international break and kept up their winning run with a 3-0 victory over fellow newcomers Tottenham at the Hive.
United have impressed of late with the likes of Katie Zelem and Leah Galton earning plaudits for their attacking performances and while young midfielder Lauren James is usually the talk of the pundits, it wasn’t all for the right reasons on Sunday, the 18-year-old seeing red in injury time despite being named player of the match.
Nevertheless, Stoney’s players have shown bags of potential already, and predicting them to finish in their current position of fourth certainly wouldn’t be the worst shout.
Goals galore for City
Once again Manchester City proved they will not be relying on new recruit Ellen White for firepower this season after Keira Walsh, Tessa Wullaert and Lee Geum-min all scored in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Birmingham City.
With two regular goalscorers unavailable in White and Georgia Stanway, there was another Lioness who stepped up in their absence in Keira Walsh, the young midfielder launching an effort from just outside the box into the bottom corner on 27 minutes.
Last season’s runners-up would have always been expected to down Birmingham at the Academy Stadium and Wullaert and Lee ensured they collected the three points as City soar two points clear at the top of the table.
Lack of personnel was the ongoing worry for City at the beginning of the campaign, but so far, they have certainly proved they have nothing to worry about with six players having taken turns on the scoresheet in their opening four league games.
Lawley gives Liverpool needed lift
Liverpool fans haven’t had much to cheer about this season but Melissa Lawley scoring their first goal of the season to secure a point against Bristol City could be exactly what is needed to galvanise Vicky Jepson’s side into action.
The Reds were yet to pick up a point having lost to Reading, Tottenham and Manchester United in September but Lawley’s late equaliser cancelled out Ebony Salmon’s early strike to move them off bottom spot above Birmingham in 11th.
In an ever-increasing WSL, Liverpool are certainly going to need to up their goalscoring prowess if they want to avoid relegation and perhaps new signing Lawley could be their answer.
Moore and Williams star for Reading against revived Everton
She has never strayed far from the women’s football spotlight, but Jade Moore is not a name you usually see among the goals neither for club nor country.
However, the England defensive midfielder got herself on the scoresheet twice in Reading’s 3-2 win over Everton on Sunday – that’s half as many goals as she has scored in two years at the club.
But she wasn’t the only Lioness to star for Reading on Sunday, with England’s record-appearance holder Fara Williams providing all three assists for her side against her former club Everton.
Neither were included in Phil Neville’s recent England squad but now, it looks like he may have some thinking to do.
His selection headache may have only been troubled further by the recent performances of Everton’s Chloe Kelly, the in-form striker scoring her third of the season at Adams Park, putting her name in contention for another call-up for November’s friendly against Germany.
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