Weekend Wanderings: International managers under pressure and return of the WSL

Whoever said international breaks were dull? As the women’s break comes to an end, with several Phil Neville-based questions hanging around, it’s now the turn of the men’s window.

But that also means that the Women’s Super League gets back up and running.

So while the men’s top leagues take a brief halt, Alasdair Hooper takes a look at the games you can keep track of this Saturday and Sunday.

Manchester City Women v Birmingham City Women (Saturday, 2pm)

In Saturday’s sole WSL fixture, unbeaten Manchester City take on a Birmingham City side that has precisely zero points and zero goals.

A summer of upheaval has left Birmingham in a less than positive place. Despite still possessing players like Lucy Staniforth and Brianna Visalli, the search for points could go on unless the team pulls something special out of the bag against City.

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City have managed a near perfect start even without star signing Ellen White. Pauline Bremer has been in fine form and is filling that gap for Nick Cushing.

The home side will be the clear favourites here, but should Birmingham get a result, that would go a long way to boosting their position and confidence this season.

Republic of Ireland v Georgia (Saturday, 2pm)

This international break is critical for Mick McCarthy’s Republic of Ireland and their chances of qualifying for Euro 2020.

After five games the team is in a promising position – top of the table with 11 points.

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Saturday’s fixture against Georgia represents a big chance to stay top ahead of the crucial game against Switzerland on Tuesday.

Three points here and Ireland could be one step closer to the European Championships next year.

Wales v Croatia (Sunday, 7.45pm)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer isn’t the only former Manchester United player-turned-manager facing a struggle at the moment.

Ryan Giggs’ Wales also face quite an uphill task, but not all hope is lost.

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This international window, the Welsh host second-placed Slovakia and first-placed Croatia on Thursday and Sunday, respectively.

Sunday’s opponents are just four points ahead at the top, so victories here would certainly turn Giggs’ fortunes around.

Tottenham Hotspur Women v Manchester United Women (Sunday, 12.30pm)

This Sunday we’ve got WSL newcomers Tottenham and Manchester United going head to head, but don’t expect the outcome to be the same as the last meeting they played out in the Championship.

In March Casey Stoney’s side were 5-1 victors but this Tottenham team is a totally different entity.

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While the loss of Gemma Davison to injury will come as a big blow, Spurs proved they could create chances without her as they beat West Ham 2-0 just before the international break.

Two wins out of three league games also represents a strong start to life in the top tier.

Manchester United are also adjusting to life in the top tier, but they finally picked up their first win after a tough start. The Red Devils are still predicted to be strong this campaign.

Chelsea Women v Arsenal Women (Sunday, 3pm)

The marquee game of the weekend is a top-of-the-table clash between Chelsea and Arsenal in the WSL.

Games between these two are always exciting. Last season, the Blues lost 5-0 at home but snatched a 2-0 victory away, thanks to two Erin Cuthbert goals.

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Things are looking good for Arsenal this season, as Jordan Nobbs has returned and Leah Williamson is making a mark in defensive midfield.

However, Emma Hayes side will still fancy her side’s chances in this match-up as Beth England is in strong form.

This early season fixture could ultimately have a big say as to where the WSL title ends up at the end of the campaign.

You can follow Alasdair on Twitter @adjhooper1992

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