FA Women’s Super League Preview…

Chelsea continued their unbeaten run and extended their lead at the top of the table, while there has been a little shift in the teams below them as Arsenal move up to second, and Manchester United sit in third… 

Manchester United 5-0 West Ham United

Mackenzie Arnold of West Ham United was beaten five times by an impressive Manchester United attack (Kieran Galvin ActionFotoSport)

Manchester United continued their unbeaten run this season as they subjected West Ham to a five-goal thrashing. 

West Ham got off to the worst possible start after just three minutes when United’s summer signing Geyse took advantage of a mis-hit clearance from Hinata Miyazawa to nod home her first FAWSL goal of the season. 

There were worrying signs after a collision between Katie Zelem and Vivianne Asseyi meant the latter having to come off and be replaced by Emma Harries. 

The Red Devils had control of the game, but West Ham made them work for their second, coming a few minutes before half-time, when Millie Turner’s curling strike beat Mackenzie Arnold in goal. And there was time for one more before the break, with Nikita Parris making it three from a through ball from Ella Toone. 

After the break, West Ham came out with intent, with improved momentum, but were not able to get anything for their efforts. Chances from Emma Harries, Amber Tysiak and Riko Ueki were all saved at the hands of Mary Earps. 

They were further hung out to dry as Lucia Gracia scored United’s fourth from close range and just minutes later, Melvine Malard was able to close out the game with the home side’s fifth from a goal-mouth scramble. 

Although United manager, Marc Skinner had been frustrated with how his team lost focus and let West Ham back into the game in the second half, he was happy with the range of goals and scorers. 

Speaking to Guardian Sport, he said: “What pleased me most was the fluidity. When you play against us, we can attack in so many different ways … I love the flair. I want us to excite our fans.” 

The Hammers now sit ninth in the table and are without a win since their 2-0 defeat of Brighton on October 8.  

Manager, Rehanne Skinner was disappointed with the number of goals conceded but looks to focus on what the team can achieve going forward to build on the positives from the game. 

Westy Ham United manager Rehanne Skinner (Kieran Galvin ActionFotoSport)

Speaking to West Ham social media, she said: “Ultimately, everything that we do is moving towards playing the West Ham way and just being consistent with that. That’s the biggest challenge in this league – being consistent with the way that you want to play. We have to keep working really hard to stick to that plan and actually delivering that from the first whistle.” 

Next up for the teams, it’s the Manchester Derby as United host City at Old Trafford, while West Ham entertain Aston Villa. 

Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Liverpool  

Celin Bizet Ildhusoy Ildhusoy of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates her goal against Liverpool at Brisbane Road (Kieran Galvin ActionFotoSport)

 It looked as if the Lilywhites were on course for their fourth win out of five games, but Liverpool fought hard to rescue a point from their game at Brisbane Road. 

Liverpool had the best of the early chances, with Sophie Román Haug squandering her effort over the bar after some good build-up play and a pass from Grace Fisk. 

But it was Spurs who were first on the score sheet, with Norway forward Celin Bizet’s driving run from her own half carrying the ball all the way to the box and putting it past keeper Rachael Laws. 

Bizet was unlucky not to make it two as she had another strike ricochet off the bar after taking a deflection from a Liverpool defender. 

As the second half began, Spurs again came close to making it two. Kit Graham was too high when trying to catch the keeper off her line.

Spurs continued to look more likely to score but dropped their guard later in the game and Liverpool took their chance. Sophie Román Haug made up for her earlier miss, heading home an equaliser in the sixty-sixth minute. 

There was a penalty shout for Spurs after a tackle from Gemma Bonner on Bizet but it was waved away by the referee. 

It was Bonner who almost nicked a win for Liverpool in the last portion of the game, but her shot was again squandered over the bar.  

Tottenham remain unbeaten in their last five games, but manager Robert Vilahamn was frustrated but pragmatic about settling for a share of the points. 

Celin Bizet Ildhusoy Ildhusoy of Tottenham Hotspur (Kieran Galvin ActionFotoSport)

Speaking to BBC Sport, he said: “It was a tough game, Liverpool are a very good team, one of the best we have played against this season. A draw is a fair result.” 

Liverpool had a bright start to the season but despite a few tricky matches, manager Matt Beard is confident there is still clear progress for his team last season. 

Speaking to BBC Sport, he said: “We had to grind a result out in the end. Maybe last year we would have lost it, but today we’ve taken a point. Maybe at the end we could have got all three.” 

The draw means both teams are on eleven points, with Tottenham ahead on goal difference. 

In match week six, Tottenham Hotspur travel to face Leicester City and Liverpool theads to Chelsea. 

Everton 0-3 Chelsea  

Chelsea manager, Emma Hayes (Kieran Galvin ActionFotoSport)

News of Chelsea manager Emma Hayes’ departure at the end of the season has not disrupted the flow of the current title holders as they put three past Everton at Walton Hall Park. 

Still missing some key players, Everton put up a competitive performance against the league leaders but were not able to get on the scoreboard for their troubles. 

Chelsea were on the score sheet within the first fifteen minutes, with Jessie Fleming netting her first goal of the season to open the scoring for The Blues. 

The home side gradually grew into the game and were unlucky not to get a goal for their troubles before the break.  

Sara Holmgaard was unlucky not to score from her attempt, which was expertly kept out by keeper Ann Katrin Berger. Justine Vanhaevermaet was on hand to tap in the rebound but was unfortunately ruled out for offside. 

Midway through the second half, the visitors doubled their lead when Johanna Rytting Kaneryd ‘s pass found Australian International Sam Kerr, who slotted the ball past Everton goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan. 

The Toffees struggled to find any way back into the game in the same way they had shown in the first half and the game was truly put to bed when substitute Aggie Beever-Jones delivered a powerful strike into the top corner in the 90th minute. 

Manager Emma Hayes was pleased with the goals and preserved a clean sheet in their unbeaten run this season 

Speaking to www.chelseafc.com, she said: “I thought we were solid in the first 30 minutes and created a good goal. We took our foot off the pedal and Everton then grew into the game, particularly the second part of the first half, where I thought we really struggled. It eased off as the game went and it’s clean sheet, so I’ll take it.” 

Everton have only managed one win so far this season and things are not looking great for The Toffees at tenth in the table, with only struggling Bristol City and Aston Villa below them. 

Manager Brian Sørensen felt there were some positives to take, despite the result and something they can build on for the coming games. 

Speaking to Everton Women’s social media, he said: “Performance-wise, it was what we want to see. If we can bring that, all teams will struggle against us and we’ll hopefully start to convert our chances.” 

Next up, Chelsea host Liverpool in a clash at Stamford Bridge and Everton entertain Bristol City. 

Leicester City 2-6 Arsenal

It was a true tale of two halves at the King Power Stadium where Arsenal looked to have squandered their chance to climb to second in the table but turned the game on its head in the second half, literally hitting the Foxes for six. 

In an evenly matched opening thirty minutes, it was more of Arsenal’s whose chances went begging. After a poor clearance from Leicester City keeper Janina Leitzig was pounced on by Victoria Pelova, she squandered the lob over the keeper, putting just a yard or two wide. 

Leicester started to take their chances and were lucky not to open the scoring as Deanne Rose had a clear run-on goal, her shot cleared at the last moment by Lotte Wubben-Moy. 

A set piece once again became Arsenal’s downfall, as Sam Tierney was able to head in her first-ever league goal following a pass from Lena Petermann. 

Arsenal barely had time to regroup as under two minutes later they found themselves two goals down when Hannah Cain was able to drive the ball forward and find Janice Cayman whose sliding shot easily found its way past keeper Manuela Zinsberger. 

The look of shock on Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall’s face painted quite the picture. 

To highlight their importance, these goals were the first time Leicester City had scored against Arsenal in the FAWSL and it was clear how much confidence it brought to the team as they went in at half-time. 

However, the half-time regroup seemed to have opposing effects on each team, it was Arsenal that came racing out of the blocks, and Leicester’s turn to be shell-shocked. 

Within four minutes, Canadian international Cloé Lacasse beat Courtney Nevin to the ball and slotted home the first of Arsenal’s comeback goals. 

Just three minutes later, Alessia Russo doubled their lead, with a pass from Katie McCabe finding her unmarked in the box and free to put it past the keeper. 

It was Australian international Caitlin Foord who pushed The Gunners out into the lead with her goal just shy of the 60-minute mark, with a fantastic lob set up by a pass from Alessia Russo. 

Four minutes later, Victoria Pelova was able to make amends for her missed shot in the first half as she was unselfishly set up in front of goal by Cloé Lacasse – making it 4-2. 

In just short of twelve minutes, Arsenal had completely flipped the script and relentlessly ran riot over the Foxes. 

As the goals hit the back of the net, Leicester seemed to fall apart, both being dismantled by the Gunners as well as defensively. 

However, the misery was not over The Foxes, who were barely out of their own half throughout the second half. A shot from Kyra Cooney-Cross was saved by Janina Leitzig, only to be headed back on goal, but over the net by substitute Stina Blackstenius almost making it five. 

But Blackstenius was on hand to get the fifth, set up by a fantastic long pass to Pelova by Steph Cately, who in turn made sure the ball made it to Blackstenius who this time beat keeper Leitzig. 

The Gunners continued to search for their sixth, with substitute Lina Hurtig hitting the post, and Hurtig again involved as her pass set up Beth Mead for a shot which also hit the post in agonising fashion. 

Deep into injury time, they found their sixth as Pelova was again involved, her pass setting up Lina Hurtig with a cool finish to get her first FAWSL goal for Arsenal. 

The control of the game was a positive sign for Arsenal, who were missing their established midfield of both Lia Wälti and Kim Little. Victoria Pelova and new summer signing Kyra Cooney-Cross were impressive in their mid-field play, with Pelova winning Player of the Match. 

With such a stark contrast between the two halves, many wondered exactly what manager Jonas Eidevall said in the Gunners half-time team talk to change things. 

Speaking to www.arsenal.com, he said: “We kept the structure but we challenged the application on what we needed to do. We did what we usually do: we looked at the clips and saw where the spaces were. Sometimes you get a different experience, both as a coach and as a player. But it wasn’t a Hollywood-style team talk, I don’t believe in that anymore. You can’t only have those motivational speeches, you need to be task-oriented.” 

Leicester City manager, Willie Kirk was pleased with the performance in the first half, showing his team can put up a fight against a ‘top tier’ team and will take the lessons into their coming games.  

Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, he said: “I’m going to need a couple of days to get over that, I think. What a lesson it is in terms of how good we can be and what can happen to you if you just half a yard off it. I thought our game plan was courageous and brave and we carried that out fairly well in the first half. There were still things we wanted to improve on.” 

Next up for the teams, Leicester host Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal travel to Brighton & Hove Albion.