Jessy Parker Humphreys runs through the top talking points from this gameweek in the WSL.
Manchester United’s lack of control leaves them open to Arsenal’s attacks
Manchester United’s strong start to the season has come to a stuttering stop as they have failed to win any of their last four matches in the WSL. Arsenal’s slightly hurried attacking play – perhaps a hangover from last week’s draw with Tottenham – was a greater foil for their own scoring ambitions than any of Manchester United’s defence. Steph Catley, pushing up high, combined with Katie McCabe to create constant overloads against Ona Batlle, with Kirsty Hanson often nowhere to be seen. Whilst it was a strike from Vivianne Miedema from the edge of the area and a McCabe penalty which sealed the 2-0 win, United never looked like they were going to be able to keep Arsenal out. Under Casey Stoney, United always looked gritty, even when they lost. Under Marc Skinner, the best adjective is probably flappy.
Hayley Raso shines in comprehensive City win over Aston Villa
Manchester City’s yo-yoing form this season continued as a second-half blitz gave them a 5-0 win over Aston Villa. The victory means that all of City’s wins this season have been by a three-goal margin or greater – but they have only won three of eight games.
The impact Hayley Raso had in a 27-minute cameo highlighted how much City have missed being able to rotate their side. Despite only playing a third of the match, Raso got two goals and an assist, as well as having the second highest expected goals + assists. The Australian forward was making only her third WSL appearance for Manchester City, and with a run of easier fixtures after the international break giving City the opportunity to make up ground on the teams around them, they will be hoping that there are no further injuries over the next couple of weeks.
Kerr-by celebrations as Chelsea brush aside sorry Birmingham
You would not have fancied Birmingham’s chances against Chelsea most of the time, but when they announced this week that they were sacking manager Scott Booth after only seven games, the odds felt further stacked against them. A strong Chelsea side comfortably brushed them aside 5-0, having scored four in the first half. It was a jubilant match for the titleholders, as Sam Kerr celebrated her contract extension with a first-half hat-trick and a first Chelsea back flip in front of fans. Meanwhile, Fran Kirby became the first ever Chelsea women’s player to reach 100 goals for the club, and only the 11th across the club as a whole.
It topped off a six-game run since the last international break, which has seen Chelsea win six games across three competitions, with 21 goals scored and 0 conceded. The upcoming FA Cup final against Arsenal looks well poised to define both clubs’ seasons.
West Ham inflict defeat over Spurs to blow Champions League race wide open
West Ham got a crucial 1-0 win over Tottenham, which has had the wider effect of blowing wide open the race for the final Champions League spot. With Chelsea and Arsenal now six and seven points ahead of third respectively, it is hard to imagine any teams catching them. But with only five points between third and tenth, there is no shortage of teams who might fancy themselves as having a run at that final spot. Whilst Manchester City and Manchester United might be favourites, all three of Brighton, Tottenham, and West Ham have shown they have the ability to pick up the points they need. With no shortage of inconsistent teams in this year’s WSL, it could only take stringing together a handful of good wins to see one team really assert themselves for the third spot.
Reading’s resurgence continues against Brighton
After a dire start to the season, Reading scored eight goals in three games to pick up seven points. And whilst some of those results used up a couple of slices of luck, their 2-0 result against Brighton was won through a combination of patience and decisiveness as they defended their early 1-0 lead well, despite some excellent attacking play from Brighton. The match will have given Reading some confidence ahead of their fixtures after the international break, when they face Chelsea, Manchester City, and Arsenal.
Follow Jessy on Twitter at @jessyjph