As the FA Women’s Super League wrapped up their ninth gameweek of the season, Manchester United cemented their place atop the league standings, Chelsea added another big win over Brighton & Hove Albion, and Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema continued her reign as the league’s top scorer.
But beneath the biggest headlines, a small cohort of players likewise used the weekend to cement their status as among the most important footballers playing today. They may not win any end-of-year hardware, but that hasn’t stopped these four women from proving just how critical they are to their teams’ success.
Caroline Weir rightfully tops our list after having been a key player in Manchester City’s most recent wins over Everton and Arsenal. In eight appearances this season, Weir has booked three assists and a goal — her one score being the game-winner in Sunday’s contest against Arsenal, which she rocketed home in the final minutes of stoppage time. Though a quiet presence in her first few games with Manchester City, Weir has emerged as an asset in City’s midfield as of late, her excellent passing talent and ability to think quickly on the ball endearing the 25-year-old to both her teammates and the City faithful.
The finish to this #BarclaysFAWSL weekend was ????What a way to score a late winner, @itscarolineweir ????pic.twitter.com/pNqL2Gaw9X— Barclays FA Women's Super League (@BarclaysFAWSL) December 14, 2020
The finish to this #BarclaysFAWSL weekend was ????What a way to score a late winner, @itscarolineweir ????pic.twitter.com/pNqL2Gaw9X
Following her standout performance, which lifted City to a needed victory over Arsenal, Weir said: “Our performances have grown as the season has gone on, and I think you can see how we want to play now. It takes a bit of time but the depth of quality in the squad means that we can rotate, and to go unbeaten for so long is obviously a positive thing, and that’s what we are going to need going forward,” she continued. “That was my first goal of the season, so I have been waiting a while for it. The team needed the three points and we’re delighted we came out on top in the end.”
After struggling with inconsistency as a team earlier on in the season, Weir’s presence in the midfield has helped steady the Blues, who are now firmly in position to compete for the title.
Scoring her second goal in two games this weekend was Manchester United’s Leah Galton. Beating a defender up the left flank, the forward took a touch towards her left foot, burying a shot past Reading goalkeeper Grace Moloney. Galton’s goal would be a contributing factor in United’s 2-1 win over Reading FC, keeping her squad undefeated through nine matches with a 7-2-0 record.
The young player has appeared in all nine of United’s games this season, notching three goals and two assists.
Too hot to handle! ????#MUWomen @Leah_Galton21 pic.twitter.com/amBTnu6KCB— Manchester United Women (@ManUtdWomen) December 14, 2020
Too hot to handle! ????#MUWomen @Leah_Galton21 pic.twitter.com/amBTnu6KCB
The forward’s stellar performance in Sunday’s match earned her the honor of Barclays Player of the Match, with fans and fellow teammates alike having high praise for her consistency and quality of play. As for Galton’s thoughts on the match, she acknowledged the importance of every contest moving forward should Manchester United want to remain atop the table in a post-game interview, not losing sight of what matters most to Casey Stoney’s team.
United’s dominance has been the biggest surprise this season, in what is only their second FAWSL campaign. But if Galton can maintain both her on-field play and her big-picture attitude, the Red Devils could be on track for a historic finish.
Well earned, @Leah_Galton21 ???? #MUWomen #BarclaysFAWSL pic.twitter.com/WgO76Sr7L8— Manchester United Women (@ManUtdWomen) December 13, 2020
Well earned, @Leah_Galton21 ???? #MUWomen #BarclaysFAWSL pic.twitter.com/WgO76Sr7L8
A major recent storyline in the FA Women’s Super League has been the resurgence of Tottenham Hotspur since the hiring of new manager Rehanne Skinner. Now sitting at eighth place in the table, a major contributor to the Spurs’ surprising win streak has been USWNT forward Alex Morgan. In the Spurs’ match against Aston Villa, Morgan logged her second goal in two games, driving home yet another penalty kick to draw first blood for her team in the 13th minute, as Tottenham went on to defeat Aston Villa in a comfortable fashion, 3-1.
Another week, another penalty slotted home by @SpursWomen's @alexmorgan13 ????????#BarclaysFAWSL pic.twitter.com/hhIBuycz9Z— Barclays FA Women's Super League (@BarclaysFAWSL) December 13, 2020
Another week, another penalty slotted home by @SpursWomen's @alexmorgan13 ????????#BarclaysFAWSL pic.twitter.com/hhIBuycz9Z
Not only did Morgan get on the scoresheet this weekend, but she logged valuable minutes of playing time — starting the match and playing the entire game, something she has not done since returning to the pitch since the birth of her daughter. Her performance also earned her a spot in the Barclays FAWSL Team of the Week, selected by Siobhan Chamberlain.
Your #BarclaysFAWSL Team of the Week! ????Chosen by @Sio_Chamberlain ???? pic.twitter.com/jXJcSTFcKJ— Barclays FA Women's Super League (@BarclaysFAWSL) December 15, 2020
Your #BarclaysFAWSL Team of the Week! ????Chosen by @Sio_Chamberlain ???? pic.twitter.com/jXJcSTFcKJ
It’s worth noting that Tottenham has not lost a single match that Morgan has played in — in case her importance to the Spurs wasn’t already obvious.
Joining Caroline Weir on the scoresheet for Manchester City this weekend was none other than the “Tower of Power” herself, Sam Mewis. Down by a goal early on thanks to Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema, City was in desperate need of an equalizer. After 28 minutes of play, City would get their opportunity, as Chloe Kelly lofted a corner kick into the Arsenal box. The ball met the head of Mewis, who redirected a header into the lower 90 to notch her third (!) goal of the season for the Blues.
After heading in another goal in Man City’s FA Cup Final win over Everton in November, Mewis is starting to cement her reputation as a player who quite literally rises to the occasion.
The ???????????????????? ???????? ???????????????????? is amongst the goals again! ????@sammymewy heads in her third of the season! ???? pic.twitter.com/nOcBmGbZph— Barclays FA Women's Super League (@BarclaysFAWSL) December 13, 2020
The ???????????????????? ???????? ???????????????????? is amongst the goals again! ????@sammymewy heads in her third of the season! ???? pic.twitter.com/nOcBmGbZph
Like Alex Morgan, Mewis was also named to the Barclays FAWSL Team of the Week as City handed Arsenal another loss to move into fourth place in the table. Now edging even closer to a top-three finish on the season, City will rely on players like Mewis to maintain a strong midfield and continue on with their winning ways.
WHAT’S NEXT IN THE FA WSL
Manchester United vs. Bristol City @ 7:00 a.m. EST
Arsenal vs. Everton @ 7:30 a.m. EST
Birmingham City vs. Manchester City @ 9:00 a.m. EST
Chelsea vs. Tottenham @ 9:00 a.m. EST
Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Reading FC @ 9:30 a.m. EST
West Ham United vs. Aston Villa @ 10:00 a.m. EST