Jessy Parker Humphreys picks out the top talking points from this gameweek.
Resurgent Bethany England making the most of her time in the spotlight
There are not many players heading into the international break in better form than Beth England. The English striker has scored four goals in her past two games for Chelsea, having been given the opportunity to start by Emma Hayes as a result of the absences of Fran Kirby and Pernille Harder. Add three assists to that total and that’s a pretty impressive seven goal contributions in 180 minutes of football.
England’s lack of game time this season has left her looking out of sorts when she has got onto the pitch, but four starts in her last five games has seen her rediscover some of her confidence. Nowhere was that clearer than when she picked up the ball in the 92nd minute to take the penalty she had won, with Sam Kerr still on the pitch and on a hattrick. It is hard to imagine Ellen White won’t be England’s starting striker come the Euros, but England is currently forcing her way into Sarina Wiegman’s thoughts.
West Ham’s individual errors in attack and defence hand City the win
Manchester City seem to have found their groove under Gareth Taylor recently, but a trip to West Ham seemed like it had the potential for a slip up – especially since the Hammers won 2-0 in the away fixture. City were able to take an early lead after Hawa Cissoko gave the ball away on the edge of her own area, whilst they added the second after Bunny Shaw was left unmarked from a corner. Both instances were eminently preventable.
But going forward, West Ham looked dangerous. Yui Hasegawa shone throughout the game. Her vision on the ball allowed her to play in passes from innocuous-looking positions that suddenly opened up Manchester City’s defence. Ellie Roebuck also fumbled a couple of easy takes – more evidence that Manchester City’s first choice shot-stopper is still not quite back at her best. But West Ham’s best chance came when a through-ball saw both Claudia Walker and Adriana Leon bearing down one on one against Roebuck. Walker had strayed offside from City’s high-line but Leon had not. Yet Walker, seemingly unaware of her positioning, touched the ball first, reprieving City.
In both attack and defence, these kinds of errors are what West Ham will want to eliminate if they are to progress next season.
Nikita Parris gives Arsenal spark to grind Leicester down
When Leicester conceded after the first ninety seconds against Arsenal, they must have feared they were in for a similar experience to the one Chelsea handed out to them last week. But the relegation-strugglers dug in against the Arsenal onslaught, complete with headed clearances off the line from Esme deGraaf and inspired goalkeeping from Demi Lambourne. When Arsenal scored their second after 67 minutes, it seemed like the Gunners would settle for job done, having had a long trip to Germany mid-week.
Yet Nikita Parris had other ideas. Parris has struggled at Arsenal this season, stuck as she is on 49 WSL goals having not yet scored in the league. But her intensity on the right-hand side was too much for Leicester to cope with and she quickly created three goals. The title might not come down to goal difference – but if it does, Arsenal might have Parris to thank.
Everton draw gives Birmingham brief reprieve
In a game that may well lay claim to being the most boring of the entire season, Everton and Birmingham battled out a show of total mediocrity at the bottom of the table. It is credit to Birmingham that they have kept going in attempts to frustrate opponents, despite knowing they are unlikely to stay in the division. For all of Leicester’s recent implosions, Birmingham’s race has long been run. Everton meanwhile guaranteed themselves safety with the point, but it is astonishing how dire a team full of so many talented players looks. There is much more fight in the side bottom of the table than in the side third from bottom.
Aston Villa loss leaves Tottenham wondering what might have been
Champions league qualification was always going to be a big ask for Tottenham, but Rehanne Skinner might be a bit disappointed with how quickly her side has let it slip away. Spurs have now not won for three games, and with two matches against Chelsea and one against Arsenal to come, they might be concerned that this season could very much leave them as mid-table mediocrity. It was a familiar story to them in their 1-0 loss to Aston Villa as they struggled to create good openings against a sturdy Villa defence. They now have not scored in three consecutive games, and when Ramona Petzelberger headed in, it felt like some of the luck that had seen them rise up the table had finally deserted them.
Follow Jessy on Twitter @jessyjph