Women's Sports: WSL preview ahead of inaugural blockbuster Women’s Football Weekend

West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur - Barclays FA Women's Super League

After an international break which saw England lose to Germany and win away to Czech Republic, it was time once again for the domestic leagues to take centre stage.

This weekend it was the turn of the inaugural ‘Women’s Football Weekend’ to make its much-anticipated debut, albeit the games in the top two tiers are taking place across the Sunday, rather than both days. 

Attention turns to the Super League which boasts two derby’s and a league first for two clubs as four of the six weekend fixtures will be hosted at the club’s main stadium – the North London Derby will make its debut in front of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the 13th Merseyside Derby will grace Anfield, Brighton will aim to secure their first win of the season at the Amex while Reading hope to maintain their 100% league record against Bristol City at the Madejski Stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal

History beckons for Tottenham and Arsenal as Sunday will be the first-ever North London Derby in the Women’s Super League. The last time these two sides faced off in a competitive fixture, Arsenal ran out 10-0 winners over Spurs in a 2017 FA Cup fixture.

Their more recent encounter was prior to the current fixture in a preseason friendly, once again dominated by the reigning League Champions. In a game that ended 6-0 to Arsenal, new midfield addition Jill Roord impressed bagging a hat-trick.

As far as league standings go, high-flying Arsenal sits comfortably in second, winning four of their five league games so far – falling short only to top-of-the-table Chelsea in a 2-1 defeat away from home last time out. History could very well be on their side as they have never suffered back-to-back defeats away from home before.

Meanwhile, Spurs are one of three teams currently sitting on 9 points in the league – just behind the top 3 of Chelsea, Arsenal and Man City. Perhaps more impressively, the newcomers have only conceded 5 goals in their 5 league games, proving difficult to breakdown. At the other end of the pitch, Kit Graham has proven to be a creative outlet for them creating 12 chances for her side so far this season – the most created without yet registering an assist.

Whatever happens – this moment will go down in history for both clubs and is sure to spark the beginning of a long rivalry between the two.

KO: 3pm, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium 

West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur - Barclays FA Women's Super League

Chelsea v Manchester United

In a weekend steeped in history, this fixture bodes no differently. This is the first meeting in any competition between these two sides could prove to be a game-changer in the long run with Manchester United sitting just four points behind Chelsea on 9 points.

Against opponents they’ve faced for the very first time in the Super League, Chelsea boasts a 100% record having won all five meetings against said opposition – meaning they could extend that run to six games or Casey Stoney’s side could steal a bit of history as well as 3 points at Kingsmeadow on Sunday.

But it won’t be easy for the away side who travel to the team at the top of the table and who are currently unbeaten – winning four and drawing one – since the start of the season. It is, in part, to their fantastic attacking force going forward. Namely the duo of Bethany England and Guro Reiten who have combined to create seven chances for one another so far this season – more than any other two players in the league. They’ve stood firm at the back, conceding just three, while netting 11 goals in just five games – the most any team has scored so far.  

Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur - Barclays FA Women's Super League

Despite their attacking prowess, Chelsea will find it difficult to breakdown a resilient Manchester United side who are, unsurprisingly, very well defensively disciplined under Stoney. In fact, with 3 consecutive clean sheets and wins under their belt, they could become the first newly-promoted side to win four in a row since Sunderland back in 2015.

In a game of fine margins, the winner of this could very well be decided on just that at either end of the pitch – perhaps coming down to a moment of individual brilliance to separate the two. A win for Chelsea could see them extend their lead at the top while a win for United could throw them into the mix for a top 3 finish.

KO: 2 pm, Kingsmeadow

Liverpool v Everton

The 13th Merseyside Derby is set to take place at Anfield on the Sunday of this historic weekend. Liverpool edges it ever so slightly on history, winning five of the previous 12 meetings with Everton winning four and the sides drawing three times.

But when it comes to the league, Everton finds themselves in a much better position than their counterparts. While the Toffees sit 5th with three wins in five, Liverpool is struggling at the bottom of the table with four losses and one draw in their five WSL games so far.

It seems as though Willie Kirk has really benefited from the summer with the side in which he was able to rejuvenate his squad and it has clearly translated in performances. One player, in particular, finding her form under Kirk is Chloe Kelly, who now has four goals this season – already bettering her entire 18/19 tally (3). 

Liverpool v Reading - Barclays FA Women's Super League

Despite Melissa Lawley being one of Liverpool’s more positive notes after signing from City in the summer, they’ve struggled to breakdown defences as well as hold off the opposition’s attack. The last time Liverpool lost their opening five WSL games, they went on to finish bottom of the table. This could be a crucial tie for them going into the rest of the season and 3 points may potentially kickstart their league campaign.

KO: 3 pm, Anfield

Manchester City v West Ham United

Sunday’s early kick-off will see Manchester City take on West Ham United – the last time the two faced off was the backend of last season in a thrilling FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium – 19-year-old City forwards Lauren Hemp among the scorers.

Just last season Man City inflicted West Ham’s biggest ever WSL defeat to them when they ran out 7-1 winners in a rampant victory just last season. But, having already lost as many games as last season in the league early on as well as a tough loss to rivals United in the Conti Cup, this City side has proven to be beatable.

The bad news for West Ham, however, is that in the league the only team seemingly able to beat City is Arsenal – who is responsible for City’s last three defeats in the WSL. But they can take hope from the fact they’ve only lost once in their last five away games this season – the last of which came on opening day when they fell short to Arsenal in a narrow loss. 

Manchester City Women v West Ham United Ladies - Women's FA Cup Final

KO: 12.30 pm, Academy Stadium

Brighton & Hove Albion v Birmingham City

Brighton is one of three teams to be without a win this season – coming closest against Chelsea before the latter equalised late on to salvage a point. Meanwhile, Birmingham will be looking to avoid a third consecutive away defeat – the last time they did this was back in January 2018.

Lucy Staniforth is likely to be the standout player, if any, given current form for both club and country in which she has excelled of late. The midfielder has shown her excellent vision and ability to pick a pass – becoming difficult to defend against.

While Brighton have conceded 10 goals this season, it is known that games involving Birmingham generally seem to produce the fewest number of goals - scoring two and conceding five. If Powell successfully sets her team up to defend against a low scoring side, Brighton could look to use the counterattack to their advantage. 

Birmingham City v Everton - Barclays FA Women's Super League

Having said that, Brighton hasn’t been firing on all cylinders themselves – scoring just two goals so far. This game could turn into yet another draw for them unless they start to take their chances.

KO: 2pm, Amex Stadium

Reading v Bristol City

History certainly favours Reading coming into their game against Bristol – with the former boasting a 100% record against them winning all previous five meetings; which is their best win ratio against any team.

Bristol is among the sides who have failed to register a win so far this season despite strengthening in the summer transfer window. In fact, they’re currently without a win in eight which is their worst run of league form since they went 11 without a win back between October 2014 and July 2015. 

Everton v Bristol City - Barclays FA Women's Super League

Reading will be looking to attacking midfielder Fara Williams to be at the hub of their creativity, as she has been since the start of the season. No single player has had a bigger hand in their teams’ goals this since than Williams – scoring one and assisting three of Reading’s four league goals.

While Bristol hasn’t been on a scoring run themselves, they’ll be aware of Reading’s vulnerability at the back given that they’ve conceded six goals in five games so far – but they’ll need to be wary should they take any lead; given that they’ve dropped the most points (5) from winning positions so far this season.

KO: 2pm, Madejski Stadium

No matter what tier of football it’s in – get out and support women’s football this weekend and be a part of history.

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