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Women’s Super League: talking points from the weekend’s action

The Guardian
The Guardian
 2022-01-17

Hammers fight to the death for point

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Kate Longhurst, Georgia Stanway, Shannon O'Brien. Composite: Getty/Shutterstock

West Ham battled well to claim a 1-1 draw with Tottenham on Sunday night after Hawa Cissoko put her team in the worst possible position. The Hammers were 1-0 down after 54 minutes and Cissoko, who was responsible for the tackle that led to Spurs’ penalty, was sent off two minutes later for a second yellow card. But West Ham managed to claw back a point in the dying moments through a Kate Longhurst header in the 92nd minute. The comeback highlights the team’s progression as last season they could well have sunk being a goal and a player down. But the resilience displayed in the second half shows how far they have come under Olli Harder and the potential they have for the future. Sarah Rendell

Related: Kate Longhurst’s late goal for West Ham damages Tottenham’s WSL title bid

Stanway leading Manchester City charge

Georgia Stanway was in full ‘new year, new me’ mode against Aston Villa with a goal in both the opening and latter stages to secure a 3-0 away win. Stanway’s first was the result of a swashbuckling run through Villa’s midfield, making use of space in front of her to roll in City’s opener in the fifth minute - she made multiple attempts of the move during the match, to varying degrees of success. Villa found it more and more difficult to keep her quiet and it all became too much for Carla Ward’s defence in the 75th minute when Stanway ghosted her way to the far post, tapping in her fifth goal in three games. It’s unarguable that she is in fantastic form, making light work of Villa’s back four. Continue in this vein and Stanway will cement her status as the player leading City back to their best. Maryam Naz

Arsenal try to buy their way out of their crisis

Arsenal may have seen their weekend game cancelled because of Covid cases and injuries in opponents Reading’s squad but they have still been busy. The crisis-hit Gunners have collected just one win in five games since the start of December. Last week’s 2-0 loss to relegation battling Birmingham was a particular shock to the system. All is not lost though, Jonas Eidevall’s side remains in all four competitions and sits atop of the WSL table. There will be hope that the arrival of highly-rated Sweden forward Stina Blackstenius from Häcken and the defender Laura Wienroither from Champions League group opponents Hoffenheim will help stop the rot. Perhaps most important, however, is the return of influential centre-back Leah Williamson, who has been out injured since November, and the announcement that she has signed a new contract. Suzanne Wrack

Manchester United and Galton on the rise

Manchester United are believed to have missed out on the chance to recruit Blackstenius much to the frustration of fans. Marc Skinner’s squad is thin and the club are yet to announce any incoming or outgoing players. Yet with four back-to-back wins for the first time this season the current crop are showing signs that they have clicked with the way Skinner wants them to play. Five goals against a Birmingham team that secured a first win of the season against previously unbeaten Arsenal in their previous game is not to be sniffed at. Forward Leah Galton’s stock continues to rise with an assist and two goals in six minutes and United could take the advantage over Tottenham in the race for the third Champions League place should they beat them this weekend. SW

Leicester off the bottom despite lack of goals

The Foxes won by a single goal against Brighton at the King Power Stadium, courtesy of Shannon O’Brien’s 54th-minute winner. They now sit in 11th position, with a brief reprieve from the WSL basement spot - but for how long? It’s clear that the lack of goals has been a running theme this season and it could come back to ruffle up their tails. This is a Leicester team that have only netted six times in 11 games – only the 2019-20 Liverpool side had scored fewer at that stage, a despairingly low three. Leicester’s shots on target have also been on the drop under the reign of Lydia Bedford and against Brighton they only managed three. They have won two out of three now but may need to score more to keep Birmingham behind them. MN

Will Chelsea’s big break hamper title hopes?

Chelsea’s match against Everton was called off because off Covid cases and injuries in the Toffees camp. The postponement means the defending champions have not played a competitive match since mid-December and the elongated break could hamper their performances. They are in a prime position to take top spot in the WSL after Arsenal’s loss of form but the Blues have to be clinical and cannot afford to drop any points. If in the first leauge game back, scheduled to be against Brighton on Sunday, they are a little shaky or the cohesion that makes Chelsea so successful is missing – their chances of claiming the title for a third successive season could go up in smoke. Maybe their Continental Cup quarter-final against West Ham on Wednesday will get them up and running again. SR

Pos Team P GD Pts
1 Arsenal Women 10 25 25
2 Chelsea Women 9 21 21
3 Man Utd Women 11 11 21
4 Tottenham Hotspur Women 11 5 21
5 Man City Women 11 10 19
6 Reading Women 10 0 16
7 Brighton & Hove Albion Women 11 -4 15
8 West Ham Women 10 1 14
9 Everton Women 10 -7 11
10 Aston Villa Women 11 -19 10
11 Leicester Women 12 -18 6
12 Birmingham City Women 12 -25 4

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