Thorns win, Dash and Red Stars draw: highlights
Portland beats KC, 2-1, while Houston and Chicago draw 0-0.
An exciting weekend of action in the FA Women’s Super League led to some serious movement in the FAWSL table. Here’s how it all went down.
Last week, Brighton shocked the world by ending Chelsea’s 33-game unbeaten streak, coming from behind to beat FAWSL’s top team in their home stadium. The win in itself was a shock, but the fact that the week prior, Brighton had succumbed themselves to a loss against Bristol City, who are bottom of the league, made the victory against Chelsea all the more remarkable.
The challenge for Hope Powell’s side this week was to build off that performance and ensure their focus didn’t waver. Coming up against West Ham, Brighton knew the London side would be aggressive in their approach, given that they’re barely above the relegation spot and are currently fighting for their FAWSL lives.
Brighton scored early on and were thereafter happy to give West Ham time on the ball (West Ham had 54% possession, compared to Brighton’s 46%). They defended deep and stifled West Ham’s already out of form attack, limiting the visitors to zero shots on target.
Not the most exciting win for Brighton, but they moved into seventh place, pushing Tottenham Hotspur into eighth. They’ll have a chance to maintain that lead when they play Tottenham next week. West Ham, who are two points above Bristol City, have the daunting task of taking on Chelsea next.
Speaking of Chelsea, it’s clear that their loss against Brighton was a blip. The London derby between Arsenal and Chelsea is always a big deal, and this year was no different, with the match having major implications on the title race.
Despite this, it was quite an easy match for Chelsea, and it never felt like they had to get out of second gear, with Fran Kirby and Pernille Harder running the show during the 3-0 win. Alongside Sam Kerr, the duo has shone for Chelsea all season, with Emma Hayes clearly getting the best out of them.
On the other hand, Arsenal are in somewhat of disarray, and the back-to-back losses against Manchester City and Chelsea have more or less ended their title hopes. Vivianne Miedema is constantly being forced to play a deeper role because her teammates have struggled to get the ball to her feet, hindering the usually prolific striker.
Arsenal play Birmingham City next and are now in a race to secure third in order to ensure that they play Champions League football next season.
Manchester City may have been favored, but their 3-0 win over Man United still came as a shock to most. United, who were top of the table in early January, have not had a great run of form as of late, losing three out of their last five matches. Injuries have affected the squad, which leaves Stoney having to face the final stretch of the season without Tobin Heath, Leah Galton (who was injured against Manchester City), as well as Lauren James and Alessia Russo.
Man City, who have gone unbeaten in their last ten league games, are now five points behind Chelsea in second, though they do have a game in hand. They had a slow start to the season, and although Sam Mewis shone, defensive issues were a problem.
However, with Abby Dahlkemper transferring to the club in January, and with both Lucy Bronze and Alex Greenwood playing up to their potential, City are back in contention for the title. Next week, they visit Birmingham City, while United will hope to get back in form against Aston Villa.
After their win against Arsenal, Chelsea played Bristol City only a few days later, and while this was seen as a good chance to rest players, Hayes named an exceptionally strong starting XI for Chelsea’s match against Bristol, clearly not wanting a repeat of the match against Brighton.
Kirby, Harder, Kerr and Beth England all ended up on the score sheet, scoring five goals with ease past bottom-of-the-table Bristol.
Hayes is clearly thinking ahead to the end of the season, should the title come down to goal difference. With that in mind, it’s unlikely that we’ll see Chelsea let up or rotate their strongest XI much for the rest of the season. They take on West Ham next week, while Bristol City face Reading.
Both Reading and Everton started the season strong, Everton especially, but dipped by midseason.
Reading scored in the first-half, with a fantastic volley from Rachel Rowe, and it looked like they had all three points wrapped up. Everton waited to find their rhythm, but they did manage to score in the 77th minute, with a header from Nicoline Sorensen.
Both sides had second half chances for a winner, but it wasn’t meant to be, with the sides remaining in fifth and sixth respectively, both on 19 points, and Everton only ahead on goal difference. Reading will hope for an easy match against their next opponents Bristol City, while Everton will be in London next week for their match against Tottenham.
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