Five things we learned from the WSL this week
Jessy Parker Humphreys looks at the key talking points from the weekend’s WSL action.
1. Lauren James demonstrates what the future could hold for young English talent.
Manchester United 2 – Liverpool 0
Anyone who watched Lauren James in Women’s Super League second division last year got a glimpse of what an exciting player she could be and it felt appropriate that she should score Manchester United’s first goal in the top flight.
United have shown a lot of quality in the first couple of games without being able to turn it into results, but a Liverpool team who have lost every game this season gave a perfect opportunity to get points on the board. James’ goal epitomised her as a player – a calm dummy to sit a Liverpool defender down before smashing it into the back of the net.
Another moment of play earlier in the game showed what an exciting player she could become. The ball fell to James on the halfway line where she juggled the ball in the air to hold it up – surrounded by Liverpool players – before passing it to a teammate. With brother Reece close to breaking into the Chelsea first team, we might be about to see the start of a sibling dynasty.
2. Postponed games across both leagues shows how FA focus on women’s teams needs to extend to facilities.
Birmingham City P – Reading P, Blackburn P – Charlton Athletic P
It’s incredibly rare to see men’s Premier League fixtures affected by adverse weather and even rarer for it to happen due to rain. With most men’s top flight teams having under-heated pitches and drainage to deal with waterlogging, this weekend’s postponements in both WSL leagues demonstrated how women’s teams still lag behind with the facilities to capitalise on public interest in the game.
This disparity in facilities filters all the way down through the pyramid of men’s and women’s football and isn’t something that individual teams can remedy. Whilst bespoke smaller grounds like the Manchester City Academy are fantastic, the FA needs to consider how growing the women’s game might require a new approach to facilities.
3. Miedema shows why – on and off the pitch – she’s the most exciting player in the league.
Arsenal 4 – Brighton and Hove Albon 0
It already looks likely that the crunch point of this league will come when Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea play each other but Arsenal are exuding a confidence that could give them the edge. None more so than Vivianne Miedema, who topped off a lovely finish on the pitch for
Arsenal’s second with an assertive interview afterwards with Tim Stillman. Discussing her exclusion from the FIFPRO XI, last season’s top scorer said: “I think we all know it’s about popularity…I don’t really give a shit about individual awards to be honest.” One of the most refreshing things about women’s football is the willingness of players to speak out, and it looks like Miedema will continue to show up the suits on the pitch.
4. Chelsea turn up to the season three games in.
Bristol City 0 – Chelsea 4
Chelsea have looked sluggish at the start of this season but the game at Bristol City saw close to their ideal starting line-up play for the first time. With three goals in the opening twenty minutes, it gave us a small insight into what a frontline of Guro Reiten, Fran Kirby, Erin Cuthbert and Beth England might look like. However, Chelsea will have to face much stiffer opposition than Bristol.
5. 24,000 people show that the big stadium games continue to work.
West Ham 0 – Tottenham 2
Women’s football made its debut at the London Stadium this week, with West Ham hosting the second best attended WSL game, topping Chelsea’s bow at Stamford Bridge on the opening weekend. The attendance showed that the draw of the big stadium continues outside of the opening weekend and, hopefully, it will carry on to Tottenham’s derby against Arsenal. A Tottenham who could end up as the unexpected package of the whole season – regrouping from a thumping defeat last weekend in the Continental Cup to pick up their second win.
Follow Jessy on Twiitter at @jessyjph
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