WSL Review: 5 things we learned from last night’s action as Chelsea and Man City both win comfortably

Fran Kirby and Pernille Harder

Wins for both Chelsea and Manchester City last night ensured there was no movement at the top of the Women’s Super League table.

Chelsea beat Everton 3-0, while City beat Bristol by the same scoreline. The gap between the two sides remains just two points.

Elsewhere, West Ham clambered out of the relegation zone despite conceding a late equaliser to draw 2-2 with Birmingham, and Brighton made it four successive wins with a 2-0 victory over Aston Villa.

Here’s five things we learned from last night’s games:

Everton still have a long way to go

Currently fifth in the league, Willie Kirk’s side have been impressive this season and have frequently been dubbed as the best of the rest outside of the top four.

This was a title Everton were keen to rid of, and Izzy Christiansen told GiveMeSport Women that a top-four finish was a “reasonable and realistic target” this season.

After last night’s result, however, that target may be one step too far for this campaign. Everton are four points behind Arsenal in fourth, but the Gunners have two games in hand and could move as many as 10 points ahead of the Toffees with five games to play.

Everton

Though catching Arsenal seems ostensibly unlikely now, there were nonetheless some pleasing signs against Chelsea.

Claire Emslie was eye-catching once again and will surely be in line for Team GB consideration on this evidence, while Christiansen and Jill Scott have a visible understanding with one another and worked tirelessly in midfield all night.


Chelsea have the best forward line in the world

After their ruthless demolition of Watford in the League Cup final last weekend, it was Fran Kirby who took the majority of the plaudits. The English forward has been in scintillating form this season, and her imperious performances have seen many laud her as potentially the world's best player.

Last night was no different as Kirby scored the first and set up Pernille Harder for the second, registering her 12th league goal and 7th assist this season. The only contention to this statement, therefore, is that her two fellow attackers are just as good.

Harder was ever-present in all of Chelsea’s play last night, sauntering across the pitch with ease and picking up pockets of space at will. Sam Kerr was equally as impressive, threading an inch-perfect ball through to Kirby for the opener to prove there is more to her game than just goals.

The question as to who is the main star of Emma Hayes’ side could reign on for some time, but for now, the only unequivocal conclusion is that Chelsea possess the best forward line on the planet.


Sam Mewis was a fantastic signing

Sam Mewis came to Manchester this season with a respected international pedigree, but it was her fellow American compatriot, Rose Lavelle, who initially excited fans more profoundly on her arrival.

While Lavelle’s transfer hasn’t quite worked out so far, Mewis is starting to prove that she is a valuable asset to Gareth Taylor’s side.

The 28-year-old was on the scoresheet again last night, notching her sixth goal in five games as City cruised to victory.

Her physicality and aerial threat offer a different dimension, with her added goalscoring nous a further strength in her game.

As the business end of the season draws nearer, and a gargantuan game against Chelsea looms, Mewis will surely cause the defending champions a lot of problems.

Sam Mewis

West Ham showing signs of improvement

A last gasp equaliser from Ruby Mace denied West Ham their first league win in 2021, but there were still positives to take for Olli Harder’s side.

Despite missing the chance to go ninth in the table, the Hammers moved out of the relegation zone and will take encouragement from the knowledge that this was a game they should’ve won.

Emily Van Egmond was particularly impressive for the hosts, scoring West Ham’s first, but there were promising signs that the team needn’t rely on the Australian alone, as Kateřina Svitková finished off a fine team move for the second.

West Ham are by no means the finished article just yet, and the relegation battle will likely go down to the wire, but this game did at least emphasise that Harder’s team can compete, can score goals, and most importantly can stay up this season.


Brighton are a changed side

Hope Powell’s team have gone from a relegation-threatened team to a top-six side in the space of a couple of months.

Goals from the in-form duo of Aileen Whelan and Inessa Kaagman gave Brighton another deserved win against Aston Villa, as they leapfrogged Reading into the top half of the table.

The change in fortunes is astounding and has no doubt been incited by the inspired win against Chelsea last month, which has given the team confidence, belief and momentum.

It’s now three straight clean sheets for Brighton, four consecutive wins and the chance to move within one point of fifth-placed Everton if triumphant against the Toffees next Sunday.

Brighton Women
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