Football Features

WSL: Arsenal retain three-point lead at the top of the table ahead of Chelsea clash | Week 12

By Harry Edwards

Published: 18:09, 14 January 2020

There was another exciting round of action in gameweek 12 of the FA Women’s Super League.

Manchester City and Everton kicked off the weekend on Saturday evening with the hosts looking to keep pressure on league leaders Arsenal, who faced Brighton.

Chelsea were hoping to keep up with the pair and also continue their unbeaten start when they hosted struggling Bristol City. There was a London derby between Tottenham and West Ham while Reading hosted Birmingham, and Liverpool were scheduled to face Manchester United.

So, what went down in the weekend’s WSL action?

Brighton 0-4 Arsenal

Story of the match: Arsenal have enjoyed recent meetings against Brighton, putting four past the Seagulls in each of their previous three games. And it was no different here. The Gunners took a 2-0 lead into half-time with goals from Danielle van de Donk and Jill Roord before adding another two after the break with Jordan Nobbs and Beth Mead also getting on the scoresheet. It was their 10th win from 11 games this season and will be crucial ahead of next week’s clash with Chelsea.

What does this mean for the WSL table? Arsenal have kept their lead at the top of the table to three points while Brighton remain in ninth.

Player watch: Leah Williamson was excellent at left-back for Arsenal, helping to keep a clean sheet while also providing two assists with marvellous long passes bypassing Brighton’s defence.

Moment of the match: In the past two weeks Williamson has provided with assists with balls over the top, and all three have been superb. Of her two against Brighton, the first to Van de Donk was expertly done, weighted just enough so that it skimmed the head of the chasing defender to find the Dutch midfielder who ran towards goal and finished well.

Chelsea 6-1 Bristol City

Story of the match: Chelsea were the last of the title contenders to play this weekend and had an uphill battle on their hands after Ebony Salmon gave Bristol City a shock lead – having also scored the only goal in last week’s win over Man Utd. But the Blues hit back hard with Bethany England and Ji So-yun both scoring twice to add to strikes from Hannah Blundell and Jess Carter, the latter scoring her first goal for the club. And it could have been so much more if Chelsea had been more clinical, which is strange to say.

What does this mean for the WSL table? Chelsea keep their title hopes alive in third but Bristol were unable to increase their distance from the relegation spot.

Player watch: Ji So-yun absolutely ran the show for Chelsea before being replaced in the second half, with everything going through her. As a result, she found herself on the scoresheet twice and also added an assist.

Moment of the match: There were seven goals in total at Kingsmeadow but arguably the best moment of the match came from a piece of defending. With Chelsea cruising, Sam Kerr came off the bench to try and get her first WSL goal. And it looked like she would, being played through on goal and rounding the goalkeeper. Slotting into what appeared to be an empty net, Kerr was amazingly denied by a wonderful clearance from Jasmine Matthews who had managed to get back and keep the Australian out.

Reading 1-0 Birmingham

Story of the match: Birmingham were once again left cursing their toothlessness in attack as Amalie Eikeland’s 39th-minute goal was enough to secure Reading all three points and their first WSL home win over the visitors.

What does this mean for the WSL table? Reading have jumped up to fourth while Birmingham remain 10th.

Player watch: With Reading having more opportunities than their opponents it was crucial for Birmingham that Hannah Hampton had a good game, and she did, keeping the away side in the game at times. Unfortunately for her, her teammates’ struggles in front of goal meant she would not get a point.

Moment of the match: If you’re going to score the only goal of a game, why not make it a good one? Chasing a high pass over the defence Amalie Eikeland’s first touch brought the ball under her control and with her second she lobbed Hampton who had come off her line to try and close the forward down.

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Man City 3-1 Everton

Story of the match: Kicking off the weekend, the build up to this match was heavily influenced by the announcement that Man City manager Nick Cushing will be leaving next month to become assistant manager at New York City FC’s men’s team. But the news didn’t appear to affect his players as Pauline Bremer scored twice and Gemma Bonner secured the win before an unfortunate own goal from Georgia Stanway in injury time prevented Man City from a clean sheet.

What does this mean for the WSL table? Man City remain three points behind Arsenal but Everton dropped to seventh with a third defeat in a row.

Player watch: Pauline Bremer led the line expertly for Cushing’s side with Ellen White starting from the bench, scoring twice and going close to hat-trick before being taken off. Only Vivianne Miedema has scored more goals than the German in the WSL this season.

Moment of the match: Bremer has a taste for goals and not just simple ones. Her second was an expert finish from just inside the area despite not having too much room to build power into her shot. It had the goalkeeper beat and put Man City in firm control just after half-time.

Tottenham 2-1 West Ham

Story of the match: Tottenham were in control for most of this match and took the lead when Emma Mitchell, whose loan from Arsenal caused a stir online, curled the ball beautifully into the bottom left corner. West Ham looked to have earned a perhaps undeserving point in injury time through Kenza Dali but Rianna Dean went up the other end almost immediately to win the London derby and complete Tottenham’s double over West Ham.

What does this mean for the WSL table? Tottenham continue to rise up the table to fifth opening up a six-point gap on eighth-placed West Ham.

Player watch: Although she did not find herself on the scoresheet, Rosella Ayane was particularly lively leading the line for Tottenham testing the West Ham goal on various occasions.

Moment of the match: When West Ham scored in injury time, many Tottenham fans would have thought they had seen a win snatched from them. But their players had other ideas and when Angela Addison sent her cross into the box in the sixth minute of injury time there was Dean to head home, sending her teammates into rapture.

Liverpool P-P Man Utd

Story of the match: Unfortunately there was another game WSL postponed this week though the circumstances were less unusual than West Ham’s flu outbreak. The WSL clash between Liverpool and Manchester United was called off prior to the game starting due to a severely waterlogged pitch at Prenton Park. The ground had previously been criticised by Chelsea manager Emma Hayes for its standards, so it may come as no surprise to see this game affected by the weather.

What does this mean for the WSL table? Manchester United have dropped down to sixth as a result of not playing, while Liverpool remain bottom and still awaiting their first win.