WSL: Five things we learned from the weekend’s action

Jessy Parker Humphreys looks at the big talking points from the weekend’s Women’s Super League action.


Toothless City draw a blank

Manchester City 0 Brighton 0

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Manchester City are yet to score a goal created by themselves this season. Their 2-0 win against Aston Villa was only possible due to capitalising on two defensive errors. They looked even more uninventive here. In fact, towards the end of the 90 minutes, Brighton looked the more likely winners.

City have signed extensively this summer. Lucy Bronze and Alex Greenwood made their first starts, whilst Rose Lavelle is yet to even feature. But with a new manager at the helm, these kind of changes look more like upheaval than reinvention. There were five changes from City’s most settled side last season, and it told. Players struggled to link up. Ellen White spurned chances in front of goal. Failing to replace Pauline Bremer, their top scorer in the WSL last season, began to look foolish.

It might only have been Gareth Taylor’s third game in charge, but it was toothless. With Arsenal having already scored 15 goals this season, City will need to buck up their ideas.


Hosts Hammered in front of crowd

West Ham 1 Arsenal 9

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Selected as a test match for supporters, West Ham fans probably wished they hadn’t been allowed into the stadium to watch this one. Gilly Flaherty’s first-half sending off saw West Ham fall to pieces. Without their captain in central defence, and an extra player across the pitch, Arsenal were free to run amok.

It was a shame because before that West Ham had looked prepared to challenge an Arsenal team who already scored six against Reading last week. The hosts pressed high from the start and it unsettled the Gunners’ defence. Viktoria Schnaderback, in particular, looked less calm on the ball than manager Joe Montemurro might have hoped. Arsenal were lucky that Adrianna Leon’s shot went wide and West Ham’s equaliser came from Kenza Dali in the exact same situation.

Unfortunately for West Ham, it all went very wrong after that but other teams trying to figure out Arsenal should take note.


Blues on cloud nine

Chelsea 9 Bristol City 0

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By the time Chelsea had scored eight, they had broken a record for the number of unique goalscorers in a WSL match. Then someone else scored a ninth. With five substitutes available for these games, Chelsea’s strength in depth makes games like these feel closer to exhibitions. Pernille Harder was able to get her first goal for the club with a delightful flick round her standing leg, whilst Sam Kerr might be able to put some of her scoring demons to bed by finally finishing a one on one.

The worry for Bristol City is that Chelsea never really looked like they needed to get out of first gear. Set-pieces went unmarked. Players like Erin Cuthbert and Fran Kirby were left free to shoot from the edge of the box. With one eye surely on Arsenal’s goal difference, Chelsea showed no intention of letting up. As goal after goal went in, Bristol City may as well have stood there as passers-by, rather than as a competitor. Tanya Oxtoby has a huge task on her hands if Bristol are to stay up this season.


Squad rotation has Spurs in spin

Everton 1 Tottenham 0

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Given the way both teams have strengthened this season it was reasonable to expect more from this match up. In the end, Everton were able to make the most of their chances but they did little to suggest that their strengthening this season can really push them on. Willie Kirk might need time to find his best line-up but it also appeared that Karen Hills and Juan Amoros were still looking for theirs too. Rotation up front typified a Spurs side who scored less goals in a season than Chelsea and Arsenal managed this weekend. A settled formation might do more to improve this than any specific coaching.


Hope for battling Blues

Birmingham City 2 Manchester United 5

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In the first half, it looked like there could be a real upset here. Despite the final scoreline, at half-time these two teams appeared close to being on the same level as each other. For Carla Ward, newly inserted as Birmingham manager, that will be positive indeed. It would have been easy for Birmingham’s heads to go down after some poor goalkeeping for United’s goal but their equaliser showed the willingness this team will need to grind out results. Ultimately, the difference in quality shows in the result, but the desire to go toe-to-toe in the first half will push Birmingham on, if they can maintain it.

Follow Jessy on Twitter at @jessyjph

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