FA Women’s Super League – Round-Up…

Manchester City sit top of the table, but nothing is certain as Chelsea remain with a game in hand over their title rivals. 

Third place Arsenal are comfortably eleven points ahead of Manchester United in fourth.

Chelsea played their WSL game midweek, with a win over Aston Villa, due to the away leg of their Champions League semifinal taking place on Saturday. 

They achieved what many had thought would be unlikely, a win over Barcelona at their home, setting up an exciting home leg at Stamford Bridge this weekend…

Manchester United 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur

Following a disappointing season, Manchester United are confirmed as out of the running for the Champions League next season after their draw against their future FA Cup final opponents.

Tottenham Hotspur on the other hand have shown strength and development this season, after battling relegation for much of the last campaign.

Tottenham had an early chance to open the scoring, with Swedish International Matilda Vinberg’s cross finding Bethany England, but The Lilywhites’ captain was not able to keep the ball under control and it sailed over the bar.

Manchester United grew into the game, with good efforts from Ella Toone, Melvine Malard and Nikita Parris not quite have the clinical edge to hit the target.

The home side was rewarded with the lead inside of the first 15 minutes, a free kick from Gemma Evans finding the head of Melvine Malard finding the back of the net.

Spurs keeper Becky Spencer was called into action just moments later but was able to deny Malard a second by pushing away her shot.

Ahead of the half-hour mark, the visitors were able to turn the momentum of the game. Drew Spence directed the ball from the edge of the box, where Bethany England directed it past Mary Earps in goal.

Tottenham were able to keep their hold on the game, and just two minutes later, Jessica Naz put The Lilywhites ahead.

Matilda Vinberg capitalised on a mix-up in United’s defence and was able to pick out Naz, who found space to be able to find the top left corner with her left foot. It was the 23-year-old’s sixth goal for the club in all competitions, putting the visitors in a strong position going into haltime.

Manchester United were strong in the second half, with Tottenham defending doggedly to keep hold of their lead. Nikita Parris had a close-range shot denied by Tottenham’s Kit Graham, while Melvine Malard was denied her second of the game by Luana Bühler.

Becky Spencer in goal was integral in keeping her side ahead, keeping out a strong chance from Lisa Naaslund and being able to prevent a clinical finish from Rachel Williams.

With just minutes to go, it looked as though The Lilywhites were going to secure their first-ever win over Manchester United, but it wasn’t to be when Maya Le Tisser was able to find the equaliser in a goal-line scramble in injury time.

As the final whistle blew, the points were shared.

Having now played their opponent for the FA Cup semi-final, United’s manager Marc Skinner knows they need to step up if they are to find success at Wembley.

Speaking to www.manutd.com, he said: “It’s a warning shot to our players that you have to be at your very very best in every second of the game in order to get a result. It’s something we will heed.”

Tottenham Hotspur manager Robert Vilahamn was pleased with the performance of the team and the determination to keep hold of the game.

Speaking to www.tottenhamhotspur.com, he said: “One of the things we can look at is how good we are at coming back for when the opponents score early, how we just kept going and the energy we put in. The girls deserved to win for how they fought.”

Next up for the teams, Manchester United travel to Leicester City and Tottenham host Brighton and Hove Albion

Arsenal 3-0 Leicester City 

It was ‘job done’ for Arsenal on Sunday as they played their last game at the Emirates this campaign and secured their spot in the Champions League next season. 

The game was moved from their Borehamwood home in what many thought was a test of pull of the game against a lesser opponent than their other fixtures. With just over 42,000 in attendance, it was an impressive turnout in what has been a record-breaking year for The Gunners.

Leicester City tested Arsenal’s patience in the first half, the home side using build-up play to try and break down the visitor’s game plan, with Beth Mead and Caitlin Foord causing the most danger down the wings.

The Foxes were the first to register an attack on the target, with Yuka Momiki finding space to try and test keeper Manu Zinsberger, but couldn’t quite get the better of Arsenal’s number one.

The deadlock was broken just ahead of the half-hour mark. A run started by Beth Mead, eventually found its way back to the Lioness, via Victoria Pelova and Caitlin Foord, Mead then sent the ball over Lize Kop in goal to open up the scoring for The Gunners.

Leicester City kept to their game plan, and Sam Tierney came close to an equaliser, but Zinsberger was again on hand to keep the visitors from getting on the score sheet ahead of half-time.

As the second half began was still a chance for Leicester to pull off an upset, but Arsenal quickly established their dominance, pulling apart The Foxes game plan as the minutes ticked on.

Arsenal’s Emily Fox was relentless in her press, her repeated impressive efforts making her the pick of the Supporters Club for player of the match but was thwarted by Kop in goal.

The Foxes’ Deanne Rose was able to carry the ball setting up an attack from Lena Petermann, but lack of a clinical finish meant the rare chance was wasted.

Leicester’s keeper was called into action heading into the back part of the game, pulling off some impressive saves to try and keep The Gunners from adding to their tally.

Shortly after, with Leicester keeper Kop down for treatment, there was time for both teams to talk tactics with their bench and momentum shifted in favour of the home side when play restarted.

The game saw a return of Frida Maanum, who collapsed off the ball in worrying events at the Continental Tyres League Cup final. Now cleared to play, the Norwegian midfielder was subbed on in place of Stina Blacksteinus in the second half and met with a warm welcome from the crowd.

Just ten minutes later, the home side was rewarded for their efforts, when Alessio Russo was able to make it two for The Gunners.

Steph Catley broke the Leicester press just ahead of the halfway line and headed straight toward goal, she was able to tee up Russo, who fired her shot into the bottom left corner of the goal.

Just minutes later, Beth Mead made it three on the score sheet, when she pounced on a deflected close-range header by Alessia Russo, sending the ball over Kop and into the net.

There was also a return for Vivienne Miedema, who had been out again with injury after her initial return last October from her ACL injury sustained in December 2022. 

The game also marked a return to the Emirates pitch for Laura Weinroither, who made her first appearance since her ACL injury last May as a sub against Bristol last weekend at their Borehamwood home.

With the game fully in their hands, game time was important for the two returning players, who were able to join the squad as they saw the game out to the final whistle, collecting their three points for the table.

Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall was happy with the result and key performances across the squad, particularly in the second half.

Speaking to www.arsenal.com, he said: “I think from a patience perspective in the way we played with the ball was good in both halves. But we needed to be more aggressive in our pressure and we were that in the second half and that made the game better for us because we forced turnovers for them a lot of times in their half and that creates a lot of good situations and moments for us.”

Interim Foxes coach, Jennifer Foster felt they had a strong performance in the first half, but let their concentration slip in the second, leading to a disappointing outcome.

Speaking to www.lcfc.com, she said: “When it’s 1-0, you always back yourself to get something out of the game and it’s a shame we couldn’t do that today. That’s the tough reality of not being able to be consistent in what we do. In the first half, we caused problems, and in the second half we caused our own problems which gave them their goals.”

Looking ahead, Arsenal travel to Walton Hall Park to face Everton and Leicester City host Manchester United.

Manchester City 5-0 West Ham United

Manchester City continued their impressive campaign with a dominant win over a struggling West Ham. The London side are seemingly safe from relegation but have little to show for their season.

It was a dream start for the home side, and the worst possible start for the visitors, as City’s Leila Ouahabi put her side ahead within 30 seconds of the opening whistle.

A cut back from Jess Park the Spanish international, catching out her marker, sending it past Mackenzie Arnold in goal – setting up the mood for the rest of the ninety minutes.

Just two minutes later, Bunny Shaw found the back of a net, set up by Lauren Hemp, taking advantage of West Ham’s failure to start the game well.

There was no let up from the home side, despite their fast start, as they looked to rack up their goal difference tally out of the reach of their main rivals Chelsea.

It was again Shaw who was on hand to nab City’s third, heading home the set-up from Lauren Hemp just ahead of the half-hour mark.

The goal made it her 50th goal in 57 appearances in the WSL and is almost certain to pick up the Golden Boot this season.

West Ham did not give up the fight, with an excellent chance from Viviane Asseyi denied by a swift thinking save from Khiara Keating.

Just ahead of half-time, they came close again, when City failed to clear the ball, Jess Zui fired off a shot but after a deflection, it hit the woodwork.

Bunny Shaw was not able to take a chance at a hat trick, as she had to be subbed off due to injury and was replaced by Chloe Kelly at half-time.

West Ham were not deterred in the second half and were unlucky not to find the back of the net in two separate efforts.

Viviane Asseyi picked up a ball on the counterattack, but her powerful strike hit the post, and in the recycle, Riko Ueki’s effort came agonizingly close, skirting the crossbar.

Manchester City took hold of the game once more, dominant in possession, while West Ham were made to wait for any chances to pick up in the counter.

Chances were harder to come by for City without Shaw on the pitch, with the best chance at the beginning of the second half coming from Laura Coombes, who saw her shot go wide.

With less than ten minutes to go, substitute Laura Blindkilde Brown nabbed her first goal for the club, being quick to pounce on a rebound and send it into the top corner.

With renewed energy, Jess Park made it five for the home side. With a driving run from the West Ham half, she sent her effort low, and past keeper Arnold in goal in the eighty-ninth minute to close out the game.

It was a dominant performance by Gareth Taylor’s side who showed no signs of wavering in their WSL title campaign.

Speaking to Guardian Sport he said “When you look at that result it’s a big one. It’s a good scoreline for us. I thought we started the game tremendously well.”

The Hammers manager Rehanne Skinner was disappointed in the outcome but felt there were strengths in the performance that, with time, could grow into a better result in the future.

Speaking to www.whufc.com, she said: “City have had many years to be able to kind of build this team to be clinical in those moments. That’s something we have to keep striving towards in order to be more competitive in the league.”

Next up, Manchester City face Bristol City at Ashton Gate and West Ham travel to Aston Villa.

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