Five things we learned from the WSL action

Charlotte Stacey highlights the biggest talking points from an action-packed Super Sunday in the English top flight.

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Manchester United come up trumps at Walton Park

The Red Devils made it five wins from five as they beat Everton 3-0 at Walton Park. Nikita Parris opened the scoring early in the first half before an unchallenged Leah Galton shot and a one-touch wonder goal from Hayley Ladd sealed the deal in the second.

Goalkeeper Mary Earps, however, was once again a difference maker for United. It is Earps’ commanding presence at the base of the pitch that often settles all that lies ahead, and this match was no different. Earps is audibly vocal in all situations and gives clear and concise direction to the defensive line through the entire game. It is this narrative that provides her defenders with a fuller awareness and allows them to make better decisions when under pressure from opposition. Earps’ leadership does plenty for this Manchester United side and is a huge factor in their success.

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… but Everton are showing character

Despite the scoreline, Everton were not wholly outplayed in this fixture and arguably had the bigger slice of the first half. Further to this, according to the statistics, elements of the game were fairly even between the two sides. Everton held their own with a 48 per cent — 52 per cent split of possession, put 432 passes together compared to United’s 467 and only had two shots less on target than the visitors.

The Toffees had their moments, and there was some pleasing individual performances from Gabby George and Katrine Veje, however there are two distinct areas in which they were lacking. The first is finishing. Although Everton created chances and forced Earps into making saves there was no killer impulse to convert these and as it stands, they have only managed six goals in six games. The second major issue they face is how to deal with opponents in transition. Manchester United were able to create overloads and 2v1 situations against Everton’s defence far too easily when on the counter and the Toffees soft approach to challenging this is what ultimately led to United’s win. Definitely, Everton will take positives to draw on from this performance, but key issues need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

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City play themselves into trouble

Goals from Bunny Shaw and Hayley Raso saw Manchester City take all three points after beating Liverpool 2-1, however the Reds will feel hard done by after a valiant effort. Perhaps as expected Liverpool were switched on defensively throughout. Gilly Flaherty, Niamh Fahey and Meg Campbell did well to quite literally crowd out clean-cut opportunities and the rather brave goalkeeping of Rachael Laws is definitely worth a mention.

However, what was more pleasing than their defensive nous was Liverpool’s approach to the press. The Reds clocked City’s tendency to play out short from the back and used this to induce mistakes. Passes between goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck and centre-backs Alex Greenwood and Laia Aleixandri became increasingly hesitant and eventually this was punished by Liverpool’s Katie Stengel who netted Liverpool’s only goal. The Reds then continued to press at the right moments as City attempted to play out and did well to pin the hosts back and force them into negative territory. Ultimately, the visitors were unfortunate not to come away with something more.

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Rowe to the rescue

Elation was the word for Reading as they picked up their first points of the season thanks to two late goals from Rachel Rowe. Leicester led the majority of the match from a Tash Flint goal in the 35th minute and it all but looked as if the 1-0 margin would be enough to see the game out. Enter, Rachel Rowe.

One can only assume the midfielder used the six added minutes as a personal vendetta against the Foxes and she equalised in the 90th minute with a whipping corner that found the back of the net. But she wasn’t done yet. Rowe picked up the ball in the middle of the park and used some fancy movement to evade three Leicester players before unleashing a sensational strike that fired past Kirstie Levell, earning the Royals a 2-1 win — their first of the campaign.

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Eight to the great as Spurs overwhelm the Albion

After a somewhat flat start to the season Tottenham had an absolute field day against Hope Powell’s Brighton at Broadfield Stadium. A scorcher of a strike from centre half Molly Bartrip got the Lilywhites off the mark just two minutes in, before Nikola Karczewska made it two in under 20 minutes. The in-form Ashleigh Neville potted the third just 10 minutes later and by this point the floodgates had well and truly been opened. Neville got her second of the afternoon in the second half with Drew Spence and Jess Naz also netting braces taking Spurs’ total to 8-0. This amounts to a third of their total goals of last season being scored in a single afternoon. Certainly, an encouraging performance from Rehanne Skinner’s side.

Follow Charlotte on Twitter @char_stace

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