While Chelsea crush Birmingham, Manchester United ride the high of a mid-week drubbing, and Reading bounce back from last week’s blunder, last-place Liverpool continue an abject run of form. Jessy Parker-Humphreys gives us the low-down on all the action from the WSL this weekend.
1. Millie’s marauding was the bright spark in Chelsea’s thrashing of Birmingham
Birmingham City 0 – Chelsea 6
Regular watchers of Chelsea this season will have noticed that defender Millie Bright has often popped up in the opposition box. Once or twice per game, Bright has played a one-two on the half way line, receiving the ball in the box, before promptly shooting in a way you might expect a central defender to — wide, high, or simply not on target. Yet the move came off on Sunday, as Bright played the ball out to the left before picking it back up and smashing it past Hannah Hampton in the Birmingham goal.
She went on to play an impressive cross-field ball which was taken down immaculately by Bethany England to score Chelsea’s third. Bright has arguably been better known for imposing defensive headers, but adding this attacking and passing ability is something manager Emma Hayes has clearly encouraged. Both will be delighted to see this element of Bright’s game coming to fruition.
2. Leah Galton galvanises Manchester United after last week’s Chelsea defeat
Manchester United 4 – Brighton and Hove Albion 0
Manchester United showed no signs of being slowed down by last week’s loss to Chelsea — especially not after a stunning mid-week 11-1 win over Leicester in the Continental Cup. With Leah Galton rested for that victory, she was a focal point in attack for United on the left as she bamboozled Brighton’s defence with her movement and ability to shoot from impossibly tight angles.
With two goals and an assist, she looks like she’s really enjoying the game which she took a break from in 2018. She seems to have especially benefited from manager Casey Stoney’s support, particularly after Galton’s decision to reject any England call up in order to focus on staying in love with football. Based on these recent performances, England fans will be hoping that love continues to grow.
3. Reading turn the tables as comeback queens while West Ham’s defensive woes continue
West Ham 2 – Reading 3
Last week, it was Reading who were victims of their own success, squandering a 3-1 lead to draw 3-3 with Bristol. This week, going in at half time two goals down and reduced to 10 players, you would have been hard-pressed to see them coming back from this. But thanks to a combination of grit, experience, and poor West Ham defending, somehow they managed to come away with all three points. Matt Beard and his West Ham team will have a lot to answer for after allowing Reading to get back into the game. An inability to mark opposition players characterised last week’s loss to Manchester City and this week’s capitulation. Stronger coaching will be required to ensure West Ham look anything more than mediocre.
4. Liverpool’s problem remains firepower
Arsenal 1 – Liverpool 0
In a week where title rivals Chelsea hit six goals and Manchester City hit five, Arsenal will have been disappointed to only put one past Liverpool. Wasted chances from Beth Mead meant that it was only Vivianne Miedema’s pinpoint strike which separated the two sides. Yet despite Liverpool’s incredibly poor run of form, their defence does not seem to be the problem here, with their side having a goal difference identical to West Ham in eighth. They are yet to play Chelsea or Manchester City this season — both teams which like to put a hefty dent in any opponent’s goal difference — but their problem remains that they are yet to score a goal from open play this season. Liverpool aren’t lacking in quality up front but right now, something is just not clicking.
5. Everton’s strong run continues as they hold onto to fourth place
Everton 3 – Tottenham 1
The concept of a ‘top four’ holds a lot of weight in the men’s game, with Champions League qualification tangled up in these placings. In the WSL, only the top two make it into the European competition — but it is no small achievement to be keeping pace with the assumed top three. Willie Kirk’s side were not expected to impress this season, but they have continued to dominate the “best of the rest” competition. They easily beat Tottenham despite a defensive howler allowing an initial equaliser. If they could pick up points against Chelsea or Arsenal before Christmas, they could really throw themselves into the spotlight.
Follow Jessy on Twitter at @jessyjph