- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Manchester City are top of the Women's Super League four games into the season after Chelsea put an end to Arsenal's perfect start. Sophie Penney rounds up the weekend's action.
Chelsea’s Hayes singing as they topple champions Arsenal
Chelsea 2 Arsenal 1
Chelsea have never had more fans come and watch them at home for a domestic game, bar their stint at Stamford Bridge. And it felt full. What a game for it as Chelsea ended Arsenal’s perfect start to the WSL season with a 2-1 win, secured in the last five minutes of normal time by the Norwegian Maria Thorisdottir’s 25 yarder.
The 4,149 fans were all offered a songbook on arrival, full of chants that they belted out throughout the game.
Their manager Emma Hayes had a sing along herself just 20 minutes before kick off, practicing behind the scenes. In the hilarious video posted on Twitter (see below) she seems to be getting quite into her rendition of “Gurooo, she comes from the fjords, Gurooo, she assists and scores…”, adding her own original hand gestures. Next up a bit of Abba with “Deanna Cooper, skills are gonna blind me, shining like the sun…” to the tune of “Super Trooper”, Hayes adding the oom-pa-pa’s. She’s quick to correct her Chelsea colleague who calls her the number one: “no, 21!”.
Kaz and I want to thank the fans for the song sheet. We have been practising. Our fans are the difference. London is blue �� pic.twitter.com/i2oySiL8Nx
— Emma Hayes MBE (@emmahayes1) October 13, 2019
After the game Hayes said, “One thing I said at half-time was ‘I promise you, you score a goal and you watch this house lift’, and it just went vroom, and I thought there’s only one outcome, 4,000 people in here, we are going to smash it, happy days.”
Among the crowd was recently retired Chelsea and England legend Karen Carney, there to see her team topple last years WSL champions with a fine attacking performance.
One thing’s for certain Chelsea mean business this season. They’ve banished all memory of their third place finish last season which saw them miss out on Champions League football. Their attacking performance today, pressing high, shows they’ll be real challengers for the top spot in the WSL.
Is Keira Walsh the Man City manager's favourite after scoring rare goal?
Manchester City 3 Birmingham City 0
Manchester City manager Nick Cushing was not short of praise for England international Keira Walsh who kicked off Manchester City’s win over Birmingham City in the only game on Saturday, maintaining their perfect start to the season.
Cushing has said before that Walsh is by far the most intelligent player he’s ever worked with, and he said it again on Saturday, a few times, “She’s so adept and intelligent...She controls our build up in ways we don’t work on, she’s a very smart player. And you can see that if she plays well our team has the ability to go on and win football games. So Kiera Walsh is a top player.”
Walsh isn’t on Twitter so she said she didn’t know anything about the “most intelligent player” comment.
But she did reveal some of her teammates have noticed the attention, which she seemed to want to direct away from herself pretty quickly, “A lot of the girls have a joke with me and say I’m Nick’s favourite but I think he likes footballers who keep the ball, we’ve got a lot of them. I keep mentioning Caz Weir, her technical ability is unreal and she’s a smart player, I mean her being intelligent also helps me. It makes my life ten times easier.
Will Cushing own up to Walsh being his favourite? “Nah, people would perceive that because she plays every week but she plays every week because without her there is a huge hole in our performance. That is a fact.”
Walsh, who scored once in 31 appearances last season, admitted herself that goals don’t come too often for her, putting the icing on the cake of her strong Saturday performance, “The girls always tell me to have a few more shots. It took a bit of a deflection but I’ll still take it. I’m not normally known for goal scoring, so it’s a good day at the office for me.”
She stepped up when it mattered as Manchester City were missing their usual goalscorers as Georgia Stanway and former Birmingham player Ellen White are out injured, and Pauline Bremer, who scored a brace in their game against Reading and was nominated for the PFA player of the month award, was not selected for the squad.
Young star sent off the moment she’s named man of the match
Tottenham Hotspur 0 Manchester United 3
Manchester United’s Lauren James has impressed in her team’s first season in top flight football, weaving and twisting her way through defenders in style. And she certainly was a talking point in Sunday’s match against Spurs, a clash between both newly promoted sides that continued United’s winning form, after a tough start to the season up against Man City and Arsenal.
In the first minute of the game James forced a save from Becky Spencer and also hit the woodwork in a scramble around Spurs’ goals, with a third strike from Kirsty Hanson forcing an on-the-line save from Tottenham. You can see the almost comical chaos here:
— Barclays FA Women's Super League (@BarclaysFAWSL) October 13, 2019
When United did get their first goal it all started out with a smooth turn by James in the middle of the field and in the 76th minute she had a shot on goal saved on the line.
But it all went downhill from there. In the space of just ten minutes James picked up two yellow cards for bad tackles, one in injury time. She was sent off and will likely miss one game.
The red card came just as she was being awarded man of the match from the broadcasters.
James has still showed that she is certainly one to watch. Last match she scored her team’s first ever goal in the WSL, the day before her 18th birthday. Just a year ago she also claimed United’s first ever goal in the Championship.
Lauren’s goal against Liverpool seemed in sync with her brother, Reece James, who scored on his full Chelsea debut just days before.
Not enough Salmon for Bristol
Liverpool 1 Bristol City 1
New fans of women’s football always seem shocked when you tell them Liverpool are currently a mid to bottom table side. They may have won the WSL in 2013 and 2014 but that seems a long way away from the present day. A draw on Sunday against Bristol City meant that Liverpool still have yet to win a WSL game this season.
Liverpool have won the last five WSL home games to Bristol City but today it was almost the Vixens’ day, thanks to their England U19 player. At just 18 years old Ebony Salmon showed her class against Liverpool, ending her sides goalless start to the season. Was it a shot? Was it a cross? Hard to tell but the ball came looping in from far on the right hand side right into the back of the net just 16 minutes into the game.
tough 1-1 draw vs Liverpool - disappointing not to come away with all 3 points however happy to score my first WSL goal, hopefully the first of many������ pic.twitter.com/8I7OH9Zir9
— Ebony Salmon (@ebony_salmon) October 13, 2019
For a long time it looked like the youngster had given Bristol their first win of the season too but when Rinsola Babjide was brought down Liverpool were awarded a penalty. Melissa Lawley, Liverpool’s star signing from Manchester City, gave her side the equaliser, cleanly putting the penalty away into the far left corner.
On the positive side both teams scored their first goals of the season, albeit four games in. Until today they had been on their second longest goalless streak since 2011.
A point from the draw may also prove vital towards the end of the season.
Late goals galore keep fans on edge
It’s fair to say this weekend may have been a tough watch for a lot of supporters. So many late goals proved to be the decider in some close encounters.
The most dramatic perhaps was Chelsea’s 85th minute win over Arsenal in the London derby. Last year’s champions looked like they could ride out Chelsea’s attacking storm after a goal from Daniella Van de Donk inside the first ten minutes kept them ahead until after half time. But Beth England, fresh off her first international goal for England (“England for England”, they chant), gave Chelsea the equaliser. Chelsea had to wait almost 30 minutes for the winning goal. As the game got more and more tense Maria Thorisdottir finally broke the deadlock firing home from 25 yards out and roaring in celebration.
Over at Adams Park it looked like the whole game between Reading and Everton had been decided inside the first 25 minutes. Jade Moore scored an early brace but in between her two goals the Barclays FA WSL player of the month, Chloe Kelly, got one back for Everton and a penalty from Lucy Graham made it 2-2. Reading had to wait for the 70th minute for their winner from Lisa-Marie Karlseng Utland.
Elsewhere, Liverpool’s equaliser against Bristol City came in the 72nd minute from a penalty, almost an hour after the first goal of the game. West Ham scored their last two out of three in the 70th and 73rd minute against Brighton, whose conciliatory goal came in injury time.
Despite winning 3-0 and a dominant performance against Tottenham Manchester United only scored the second goal of their own in injury time as they were gifted an own goal by school teacher turned professional footballer Ashleigh Neville.
Only top of the table side Manchester City seemed to escape the last minute drama with a comfortable 3-0 win over Birmingham City who now sit at the bottom of the table.