Jessy Parker Humphreys looks at the key talking points from the weekend’s WSL action.
1. Chelsea go top but need to fully switch on
West Ham 1 – Chelsea 3
West Ham can be a tricky team to place. They can often pose a threat to the stronger teams but capitulate to the weaker ones. It was no different in a game where they frustrated Chelsea for 70 minutes, taking the lead in a game which Chelsea knew three points would give them the chance to go top of the table. Chelsea showed tenacity to believe in their quality, coming from a losing position to pick up points for the third time this season. They also showed their strength in depth with three different scorers on the scoresheet. However, if they are to hold their place at the top of the table, they will want to stop their game plans turning into rescue missions.
2. Arsenal win the fight for midfield to end Manchester City’s perfect start
Arsenal 1 – Manchester City 0
In a league of 12 teams, the biggest matches can mean even more than you realise. Arsenal went into this home fixture against Manchester City knowing that a loss would leave them six points adrift. Not an insurmountable gap, but a significant one nonetheless. This was a Manchester City side who had a perfect record from their first four games but a recent Continental Cup defeat to Manchester United and a Champions League draw with Atletico Madrid showed that there is a way to get at this side.
In truth, neither team was able to put their stamp on the game although Arsenal were clearly the brighter side, with Kim Little keeping control in midfield impressively. It was her neat pass that allowed Arsenal to take the lead thanks to a clinical finish from Vivianne Miedema. Manchester City seemed unable to string much together, missing Keira Walsh after her Continental Cup dismissal, although they will be heartened by Ellen White getting her first minutes in a sky blue shirt. They will have to create more than they did on Sunday in order to stay in the title race.
3. Kit Graham shines for Tottenham
Bristol City 1 – Tottenham 2
Kit Graham’s transfer from Charlton was not the smoothest, with the club disputing her contract as their 23-year-old forward, who had scored over 200 goals, moved on to Tottenham ahead of the season. Today showed why a team would want to dispute that move with Graham’s two goals in two minutes, both from outside the area, helping Tottenham come from behind to win. That kind of ability to rescue games will allow Tottenham to continue their ascend towards the top of the table.
4. Has Sigsworth finally started scoring for United?
Manchester United 2 – Reading 0
With 17 goals in the WSL2 last season, Jess Sigsworth looked like she could be a force to be reckoned with for Manchester United but in the first four games of the season she didn’t find the opportunities quite so free flowing. Not that United have looked particularly worried about that with the likes of Jane.
Ross, Lauren James and Katie Zelem providing so far. This match against Reading demonstrated what Sigsworth can offer, latching onto a ball from Jackie Groenen to speed beyond the Reading defence and score her first of the WSL season. Whether she can push on from this will demonstrate if she has the ability to succeed at the very top.
5. Birmingham get on the score sheet as Liverpool woes continue
Birmingham City 2 – Liverpool 0
There was a significant risk of this one playing out into a 0-0 draw. Birmingham had been unable to register a goal yet in the WSL and Liverpool seem likely to be stuck to the bottom of the table for the season. The ability of Lucy Staniforth has always looked to be Birmingham’s ace up their sleeve during this season and it was in this game it really came to fruition. A pinpoint free kick onto the head of Kerys Harrop allowed Birmingham to open the scoring whilst a goalkeeping error allowed her to double the lead. This has been a Birmingham team in transition after losing Aoife Mannion and Ellen White during the summer, and a win against Liverpool should not be taken as concrete evidence of revival, but it shows there is something to build on.
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