Jessy Parker Humphreys highlights some of the biggest talking points from this weekend’s WSL fixtures.
Mewis return adds to Manchester City’s impressive squad
Given Manchester City’s recent form, the return of Sam Mewis from injury was not exactly a necessity, but return she did – and in style. Making an immediate impact, Mewis scored two goals as City broke down a stubborn Birmingham City side.
The transformation of potentially weak links in the squad into excellent starters has been part of what has been so impressive about Gareth Taylor’s side. Mewis’ injury was initially thought to be a big loss but it has barely been noticed. Meanwhile, Laura Coombs looked impressive in midfield, offering yet another option in an increasingly competitive area.
This excellent form could not come at a better time for City as they look to break their Champions League curse this week against Fiorentina. With the squad they currently have, there’s no reason to doubt that they will progress past the round of 16.
Arsenal returnees break down tenacious Aston Villa
A 0-0 half time stalemate at the Bank’s Stadium left viewers wondering if Aston Villa might be able to nick something against Arsenal. Given the Gunners’ poor form – they had taken only one point from the last possible nine – and lack of game time, there were undeniably chinks in what had previously been an impenetrable armour.
Four goals later and they looked like themselves again. For the first time in a while, Arsenal’s injury crisis had subsided, and they had the players available to rotate effectively. The international break had also offered an opportunity to test a different team set-up, with the Netherlands contingent of Vivianne Miedema, Danielle van de Donk and Jill Roord all particularly enjoying themselves.
Joe Montemurro will hope that this positive result kickstarts something special because only perfection will see Arsenal take that extra Champions League place this season.
Everton gain helping hand in vital win
In a must-win game scenario, being awarded two penalties in the first 20 minutes is always going to be helpful.
Everton’s meeting with Tottenham might not have been a must-win, but it was certainly one they wanted to win, as their bright start to the season has already become a distant memory. Willie Kirk’s side will be keen to show that they’ve still got what it takes to bridge the gap with the upper echelons of the WSL and remain competitive.
Yet the scoreline after 20 minutes was flattering for Everton, to say the least. Yes, Valerie Gauvin scored two well-taken penalties but both awards were incredibly soft. The fact that Everton then allowed Tottenham to bring the game back to 2-2, and then score a winner from a dead ball situation should be of concern to Kirk. There are bright sparks in this Everton side but right now, something is not quite connecting.
Long-ball game offers different option for Spurs
Playing out from the back is very much in style in the WSL currently, as well as the wider world of football. Yet Tottenham demonstrated against Everton how longer balls offer plenty of potential against high defensive lines.
Whilst neither of their goals came directly from a long ball, Rosella Ayane and Angela Addison regularly looked dangerous running onto goal kicks from Aurora Mikaelsen, as well as from quick balls out by the defence.
That unpredictability is likely to secure better results moving forward.
Individual brilliance sees Emslie shine
Both Tottenham and Everton had key individual performances to thank in their match. For Tottenham, it was Angela Addison’s impeccable finish over Sandy MacIver followed up by Gemma Davison’s solo dribbled effort.
Everton’s stand-out performer might not have got on the score sheet but Claire Emslie looked a constant threat. Having converted her loan from Orlando Pride into a permanent deal, Emslie has been in and out of the Everton side, but at the weekend she used her skill on the ball to put Tottenham under constant pressure. If Izzy Christiansen had been able to convert when through on goal, Emslie would have got a much-deserved assist. She certainly looked like a player ready to step into the Everton starting XI on a more regular basis.
Follow Jessy on Twitter at @jessyjph