WSL Review: 5 things we learned from today as Chelsea maintain their gap at the top of the table

WSL

There were wins for all of the top four today, as Chelsea maintained their two point advantage over Manchester City.

Chelsea comfortably beat a lacklustre West Ham side 2-0, as Man City left it late to overcome an accomplished Everton side.

Elsewhere, there was a third successive win for Brighton, while Arsenal thrashed Birmingham 4-0, and Manchester United defeated Aston Villa 3-0 to record their first league win since January.

Man City need to learn to adapt

It was a less than convincing win for Man City against a resolute Everton team, as Gareth Taylor’s side ensured they didn’t lose any ground on league leaders Chelsea.

A late strike from Kiera Walsh was enough to secure all three points, but City struggled to break down a well-organised Everton outfit for much of the game.

Megan Finnigan was particularly impressive for the visitors, who were happy to drop deep, and had clearly prepared tactically on how to set up against the typical City 4-3-3 formation.

Lucy Bronze

The late introduction of Georgia Stanway and Rose Lavelle injected fresh impetus into City’s play, and Walsh’s goal could prove to be a defining moment in the title race this season.

It’s now nine consecutive Women’s Super League victories for Gareth Taylor’s side, but his team were pushed to the very limit today, and will no doubt have to consider alternative methods for breaking teams down moving forward.


Bethany England’s still a very good footballer

Despite being the reigning Women’s Super League Player of the Year, Bethany England has not hit the same heights this campaign and has often found herself on the bench this season.

With Fran Kirby absent today, however, England proved that she does still have star quality –– setting up Kerr with a delightful cross for Chelsea’s first goal, before a role reversal, as England headed in herself to score the second.

It was yet another convincing win for the league leaders, who appear to be firmly back on course, after their shock defeat to Brighton last month.

There was still no sign of Magdalena Eriksson though, who also missed Chelsea’s Champions League last 16 first-leg against Atlético last Wednesday.

With the second leg of that tie and the League Cup final to come next week, Chelsea will hope her injury is nothing too serious.


United have found a way to win ugly

Man United endured a torrid February, going winless and suffering defeats to both Reading and arch-rivals Man City.

Getting back to winning ways today was therefore crucial to maintain their grip on the final Champions League spot.

It was a tough 25 minutes for the hosts, who lacked a cutting edge going forward, and epitomised a team devoid of confidence at present.

But a deflected strike from Kirsty Hanson in the 27th minute was followed by a thumping header from Jess Sigsworth just before half time. A comfortable second-half showing was then rounded off by an impressive team goal, started and finished by Katie Zelem.

In the absence of Christen Press, who was ruled out of the game through injury, United by no means showcased their full potential but proved that they have the depth to get the job done.

Ultimately, it was an accomplished, confidence-boosting, momentum-shifting performance as their crucial clash with Arsenal beckons on Friday, 19th March.


Fantastic Foord deserves more recognition

Despite having over 80 caps for Australia, Caitlin Foord has been largely overshadowed by the sustained brilliance of Vivianne Miedema in recent times.

Today was the day that Foord exemplified her quality in full, scoring twice as Arsenal secured back-to-back Women’s Super League wins, with a 4-0 victory over Birmingham.

While Miedema typically notched another goal of her own, to become the WSL’s all-time leading scorer once again –– Foord’s double today brought her to nine league goals this season. With a further five assists to her name, only Miedema, Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby have more goal contributions this season.

Arsenal stay six points behind Man United in fourth place, but Foord today proved that Joe Montemurro needn’t depend on Miedema to be Arsenal’s only match-winner.


Brighton continuing to improve

Having registered just two wins all season before the beginning of February, Brighton have now won three games in a row, to all but guarantee their safety this season.

This has been largely down to excellent defensive displays, and the settled back four of Victoria Willams, Danique Kerkidijk, Maya Le Tissier and Emma Koivisto, were impressive once again today.

In the end, it was a double strike from Inessa Kaagman which proved to be the difference, as Tottenham succumbed to their fourth successive WSL defeat.

Brighton also dedicated their win to Rebekka Stott, who revealed earlier this week that she has been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma –– an uncommon cancer that develops in the lymphatic system.

The Seagulls next fixture is away to Villa on the 17th March, as the possibility of a top-half finish begins to look increasingly more achievable.

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