Five things we learned from the weekend’s WSL action

Jessy Parker Humphreys gives us their top talking points from this gameweek.

Jean-Luc Vasseur sees just how much work he’s got to do

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The sacking of Willie Kirk came as somewhat of a surprise over the international break, and his replacement Jean-Luc Vasseur will be realising just how momentous his task could be after seeing his Everton side lose 1-0 to Brighton. It was a match of few chances for either side, but Brighton always looked the more in-control team.

It was a game which offered an enlightening comparison between two different approaches from Premier League clubs growing their women’s side. Brighton have taken small steps with unflashy players, a consistent squad, and dedicated manager. Everton meanwhile have looked to make wholesale changes, with big transfer fees, and the requisite sacking when it does not pay off. Right now, it’s Brighton’s ‘slow and steady’ that seems most effective.

Alessia Russo bails out slow-moving Manchester United

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You would be forgiven for thinking Manchester United did not realise they had midfielders in their 1-1 draw with Tottenham. Hayley Ladd made her first start of the season under Marc Skinner, but neither she nor Katie Zelem were able to have much impact on the game, with United instead stuck passing the ball slowly between their defensive and wide players whilst Tottenham watched on with patient concentration.

It was only when Alessia Russo shrugged off two Tottenham players to power into the penalty area and smash the ball above Tinja-Riikka Korpela that Manchester United were able to take the lead. Her dynamism and determination were a far cry from the ponderous structure of the rest of United’s ‘attacks’. Marc Skinner must find a balance between the two in order to release his most talented players.

All-change Chelsea labour against solid Aston Villa

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Once again, Emma Hayes rang the changes in the WSL, and once again, a second-string Chelsea looked dulled against defensive opposition. To be fair to the defending WSL champions, there are few teams in the world who would not look worse if they were missing Fran Kirby, Sam Kerr, and Pernille Harder. But as Arsenal’s goal difference grows weekly, Chelsea may come to regret not pushing a little bit harder in this 1-0 win over Aston Villa. Villa defended solidly – and they did not have a single shot on target but Chelsea had opportunities to put this game to bed. Ultimately it is three points gained, but it is hard not to see this match as a missed opportunity.

On-fire Kim Little sees Arsenal comfortably dispatch West Ham

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The unstoppable Arsenal train steamed through West Ham with a 4-0 win on Sunday night, capped off by another superb display by Kim Little. Beth Mead has deservedly continued to get plaudits for her performances under Jonas Eidevall, but Little has shone equally brightly, benefiting from a more advanced role with the team. Here she danced through West Ham’s defence to get the opener before finishing ferociously from a tight angle to put Arsenal 2-0 up. Those goals took Little up to 50 WSL goals, meaning she has already scored more WSL goals this season than she managed last.

Deanne Rose shines as Reading’s summer signings begin to settle

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Reading’s match-up with Birmingham was always going to be an early indication of just how at risk the Royals were of being dragged into a relegation battle, but the 3-0 victory suggests they are still above that level. Even more pleasingly for Kelly Chambers’ side was that all three of the goals came from summer signings, with Natasha Dowie opening the scoring before Deanne Rose scored two more.

The fact that Rose managed the first headed goal of her career tells you all you need to know about Birmingham’s defending. After a poor start, Reading look to be back on track – the one question will be how far they can push up the table.

Follow Jessy on Twitter at @jessyjph

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