Rachel Daly was on hand Friday night to bid farewell to the Houston Dash, with the English star heading to Women’s Super League club Aston Villa.

The 30-year-old was honored before the Dash’s home game against Racing Louisville, with Houston’s mayor proclaiming August 12th Rachel Daly Day.

Daly spent seven years with the Dash before announcing her transfer to Aston Villa in early August. The Houston captain decided to return to the Women’s Super League to be closer to home.

“I’m so passionate about this club. It holds such a special place in my heart…they’ve been an absolutely amazing club to be a part of,” Daly said of the Houston Dash.

Daly has served as the face of the Dash, helping to establish the team as a competitive force in the NWSL.

In her seven years with the NWSL club, Daly tallied 40 regular-season goals and ten assists, leading Houston to a pivotal 2020 Challenge Cup title.

Daly’s transfer to Aston Villa comes after the fullback clinched a maiden Euro title with England in July.



Between Chelsea reclaiming the top spot in the table and breaking a WSL record for consecutive wins, Manchester City putting up seven goals over Brighton & Hove Albion last Sunday, and new signings making immediate impacts on their squads, there’s a lot happening in the FA Women’s Super League.

While depth is proving to be more important than anything else amidst a slew of make-up games, superstars can still be the deciding factor in any given contest. And with five games set to take place this weekend, we’ve got you covered on who to look out for.


Chelsea vs. Tottenham

Sunday, January 31st at 7:30 am ET

Lifting Chelsea to victory in a match against Aston Villa last Wednesday was Pernille Harder, who added a goal in the 68th minute to put her team up 3-0. Harder has been consistent in every contest she has appeared in this season, with Wednesday’s game being no exception, as the Blues went on to score a fourth and keep their opponent scoreless.

When Harder is in sync with teammates Sam Kerr, Fran Kirby, and Bethany England, Chelsea’s offense is nearly unstoppable, and they have the record to back it. Altogether, the Blues have scored an impressive 34 goals against their opponents this year, and on Wednesday, the high-caliber squad broke the WSL record for the longest unbeaten streak with 32 games.

At the center of it all? Pernille Harder. A threatening presence in the attacking third, Harder has contributed four goals to Chelsea’s total while notching two assists.

Still not impressed? Announced earlier this month, Harder was named the Women’s World Player of the Year by World Soccer, with the magazine citing her eye-popping stats — 38 goals in 33 games across all competitions, nine of those goals being in the Champions League — and her status as the most expensive female player in the world (Chelsea paid a €300,000 fee to Wolfsburg for the young star) as two major factors in their decision to honor her. To put it quite frankly, we agree with their choice.

If Chelsea is going to continue its unbeaten streak against Tottenham on Sunday, expect to find Harder at the center of the action.



Manchester City vs. West Ham United

Sunday, January 31st at 9:00 am ET

An unsung hero in Manchester City’s most recent victory, center back Steph Houghton logged two goals as City overwhelmed Brighton & Hove Albion last Sunday by a score of 7-1. Though the pair of goals were Houghton’s first of the 2020/2021 season, any defender that scores not one but two goals in the same match has achieved quite the feat — one that Houghton made look like part of her everyday routine.



In her time with Manchester City, the 32-year-old has scored 9 goals and led her team to two FA Women’s Cups, three Continental Cup successes, and the FA Women’s Super League title.

With so many titles under her belt, Houghton is nothing short of impressive — and she also captains both City and the English national team, a testament to her leadership on and off the field. In fact, Sunday’s contest marked Houghton’s 150th appearance in the FAWSL, making her the first player to reach such a milestone. And what better way to celebrate than by scoring a brace?

Manchester City has finally edged into third place in the table with last Sunday’s win, a mere five points separating them from second-place Manchester United. United has played twelve matches as opposed to City’s eleven, a factor that could prove to their disadvantage as the season winds down. City will need to rely on the consistency of veterans like Houghton when making up the five-point difference, and the captain’s recent performances indicate that she can and will deliver.

Manchester City will be taking on 10th place West Ham United this Sunday, a game they desperately need to win in order to remain superior to Arsenal and stay competitive in the fight for a top-three finish. Tune in at 9:00 am ET to catch Steph Houghton leading the charge.



Manchester United vs. Everton

Sunday, January 31st at 9:30 am ET

Also hitting a milestone in her career this past weekend was Leah Galton, who recorded her 50th appearance in Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Birmingham City on Sunday. Galton has been outstanding as of late, scoring a goal against Birmingham to bring her season total to six goals in twelve games played. As a result of her efforts, Galton was named the Player of the Month for December after scoring four goals in only three matches.

In a post-game interview following the win over Birmingham, United manager Casey Stoney had high praise for Galton and her performance, calling her “one of the best”:

“I think Leah is one of the best left-wingers in the country, if not the best at what she does,” she said. “She’s powerful, she’s quick and can go one-on-one. She can get in the box and score. I think she influenced the game heavily and it was really great to see. We knew [Birmingham City] would be really organized and hard to break down, and Leah created quite a few chances.”

With their undefeated streak snapped by Chelsea two weeks ago, Manchester United will almost certainly be looking to to climb back into first place with a series of wins. The Reds are slotted to take on Everton this weekend, with the odds seemingly in their favor as Everton has dropped three of their last five contests. Should Chelsea lose to Tottenham this weekend, United can easily slide back into first place with a win and three points on Sunday.

All things considered, United has a lot at stake this weekend — and the team will need to utilize Galton’s agility, scoring abilities, and sharpness on the ball to achieve the result they are gunning for.

Only three matches took place during Matchweek 13 in the FA Women’s Super League, as the remaining matches were postponed due to weather. For the first time all season, something other than COVID put the league on pause, with several fields freezing over in the cold.

The next few matches for the league will all be games that have been postponed from as far back as Matchweek 5. Should there be no more postponements, the FAWSL will get back on schedule on February 6th with Matchweek 14.

This matchweek and the upcoming rescheduled games are essential to the title race, as managers will be tasked with ensuring that players don’t get burned out given the abundance of minutes they’ll be playing in a short amount of time. And as games begin to stack up on the calendar, it’s now, more than ever, that teams with the deepest squads are proving to have the advantage.



First up this weekend was Aston Villa hosting Reading at Bescot Stadium. Villa, who are 11th in the league, went into this match as underdogs against their opponents, who are in sixth with 14 points.

Reading started strong, opening the scoring in the third minute when Angharad James was able to head the ball in from close range.

From then on, Reading controlled the first half, getting a couple more shots on target that were saved by Lisa Weiß. In the second half, however, Villa came out much more robust and were able to withstand the pressure. 12 minutes into the half, Villa won a freekick, and new signing Mana Iwabuchi was able to get on the end of it, scoring in her debut.

Reading scored a second through Rachel Rowe, but Villa remained in the game and scored a late equalizer through Diana Silver, with Iwabuchi providing the assist.

Iwabuchi’s fantastic debut showed that Villa was right in adding more depth up front. They also had a full bench, with eight players, allowing Gemma Davies to make three substitutions, including Silva who scored the equalizer.

Reading, on the other hand, haven’t made a signing this transfer window and did not have a full squad, with only six players on the bench. After the match, manager Kelly Chambers said that the draw felt “like a loss” and that “[t]he second half doesn’t even come into contention if you put the first half to bed. That cost us today.” Her team, unfortunately, could not keep up with the intensity, and it resulted in a loss of points.



Birmingham City faced the same problem when they travelled to Leigh Sports Village to face Manchester United. Unlike Reading, Birmingham were not the favorites in this match, as United have spent the year at the top of the table. But when United came into a match with an almost full squad (eight players on the bench), while Birmingham could only afford four players on the bench, it made it seem like United had the game won before the first whistle blew.

United did indeed win the match 2-0, with goals from Leah Galton and Ella Toone. And while they struggled offensively, and lacked creatively for large spells, defensively United were solid, with Birmingham only managing two shots compared to the host’s 23.

With the win, Manchester United returned to the top of the FAWSL standings, having now played two more games than Chelsea.



While Birmingham are another team whose situation has become more dire due to a lack of available players, Brighton & Hove Albion have clearly been hit the worst, and their 1-7 loss against Manchester City proved that. This month, seven Brighton players have gone into self-isolation, while a few key players remain out due to injuries.

Their squad has been so depleted that head coach Hope Powell decided to recall 21-year-old Bethan Roe, who Brighton had loaned to Championship side Charlton Athletic back in August of 2020. It’s a sign that the club is doing everything they can to find enough fit and available players.

Brighton faced Manchester City with five players on the bench and a starting XI that contained quite a few non-regular starters. The match was essentially only played for the sake of appearance, as Manchester City, who were fantastic, and wholeheartedly deserved the win, ran circles around their opponents.

Unfortunately, Brighton did not have the grounds to ask the Football Association to have their matches postponed since they technically have not gotten to a point where they hit all of the FA’s requirements regarding COVID-19 to cancel matches. (Even that is a point of controversy.)

Given the current circumstances, the opportunities for upsets are growing few and far between. Bigger clubs would be advantaged even in normal circumstances; with so many players being shuffled in and out, they’re almost impossible to overcome given their depth. It’s a trend to keep an eye on as the season continues, and one that could carry over into next season as well.

The Football Association is under fire mere days after the second half of the season began due to lack of communication and consistency surrounding COVID-19 protocols. The FA is now facing quite a bit of criticism, and clubs and fans are awaiting answers.

It started when Arsenal confirmed that one of their players had tested positive for COVID-19 after three of their players took a trip to Dubai, UAE during the holiday break. According to the club, they were not aware that their players were traveling. Still, after an investigation by the club, Arsenal concluded that the trip was made for ‘business’ reasons, which means that the players will face no punishment.

Manchester City face similar problems as four of their players who also decided to take a trip to Dubai contacted COVID-19. Unlike Arsenal, the players apparently did inform the club prior to traveling. The club sanctioned the trip because at the time Manchester was a Tier 3 zone (Very High Alert zone), not a Tier 4 zone (Stay at Home zone).

Because of these turn of events, both Arsenal and Manchester City requested from the FA that they postpone their upcoming fixtures against Aston Villa and West Ham respectively, with City also asking their tie against Chelsea in the FAWSL League Cup be delayed as well. Both clubs informed the FA that they would be unable to field 14 players since they have players who did not travel isolating as a precaution.

According to The Times, more than ten players from the WSL (including the seven from Manchester City and Arsenal) travelled to Dubai for a holiday. Manchester United’s manager, Casey Stoney, confirmed that players from her team were permitted to go on the trip, but apologized for allowing them to travel.

The FA postponed Arsenal’s match against Aston Villa (despite Villa appealing the decision for the game to be called off — they now have had three games postponed due to COVID) as well as Manchester City’s two matches against Chelsea and West Ham. They’ve also postponed Manchester United’s match against Everton due to Everton not being able to field 14 players because of positive COVID tests and an abundance of injuries. This makes it all the more confusing when manager Willie Kirk confirmed that all of Everton’s latest round of testing came back negative.

That being said, the FA has appeared wildly inconsistent, with Birmingham City’s request to postpone their match against Tottenham this Sunday because they only have ten match-fit players denied.

Birmingham have one positive case, the same as Arsenal, but because they have a smaller squad than other teams, and are suffering an injury crisis, they are unable to even field a starting XI. Despite the FA denying the request, the match was called off, and the outcome of it will be determined by an independent tribunal.

Yes, Birmingham having a smaller squad is not the FA’s fault, but the club does not have the funds to strengthen its ranks like some of its counterparts in the league. And now they’re being punished for it, as the FA will not be rescheduling the fixture. The decision is hardly consistent with the decision made for the Manchester United vs Everton fixture given that Everton’s situation is not dissimilar to Birmingham’s.

With all these postponements, many are wondering why Birmingham have not been given the same courtesy, and why this situation was not handled the same back in November when Bristol City had five players test positive for COVID. The FA also denied their request to postpone the match, and Bristol were forced to play several academy players in their 8-1 loss against Manchester City.

Bristol have asked the FA for clarification about their rulings regarding what qualifies an outbreak within a club as early in the season; the FA informed clubs that if a team were unable to field a squad of 14 players, they would be granted permission to postpone the match — a luxury that Bristol City were denied in November. Their manager, Tanya Oxtoby, reiterated that she was not pleased, stating that the club “asked for clarification from the FA around the 14 player rule and what that looks like because we were given 90 minutes to find our players before we had to travel up to Manchester City [back in November]. The timing of the [FA’s] announcement and the amount of time clubs would have had to find 14 players from academies, have them registered and tested probably is the bit we’re looking for clarification on.”

Oxtoby has every right to feel frustrated when the FA refuses to be transparent about why “bigger’ clubs are getting special treatment, especially since the clubs getting favour had players who acted incredibly irresponsibly by travelling over the break. Although Arsenal claim that the trip was for “business”, that’s hard to believe, given that the players’ job, the “business” they should actually be handling, requires they are healthy and available for matches in the UK. Not to mention, several players posted pictures on Instagram of beaches and parties during their time in Dubai.

Furthermore, it seems unlikely that clubs who only had a few players go to Dubai are not able to field a squad of 14. It then becomes a question as to whether the clubs just do not want to play the match without their best players. With the clubs having an out by the FA postponing matches rather than making the clubs forfeit and awarding the opponents with the win, and both the FA and the clubs letting off their players for acting irresponsible, Oxtoby is right to call out the apparent favoritism.

And she’s not the only one. After the FA’s decision, fans and reporters took to Twitter to voice their frustrations, using the hashtag #DubaiGate to criticize those who travelled.

Several FAWSL players also took to Twitter to voice their frustration with the decisions. Chelsea players Fran Kirby, Bethany England, and Carly Telford were clearly agitated with their match against City being postponed, with Kirby highlighting that their already packed schedule will give the FA little room to fit the game in down the line.

Reading’s Emma Mitchell was a bit more direct in voicing her frustrations on Twitter, tagging the FA directly regarding the Arsenal match being postponed came out. West Ham’s Gilly Flaherty stated that women footballers had worked too hard to be recognized as professionals to throw it away by not remaining humble.

The FA needs to step up and communicate to clubs and players what the proper procedure is for all teams, ensuring that the rule is applied equally to all.

And there needs to come a point where these clubs, regardless of how big they are or how successful they’ve been in the past, must be punished with points and wins being awarded to their opponents if they continue to act irresponsibly while failing to foresee to see the consequences of their actions.

The FAWSL transfer window opened up on January 1st, and the 12 clubs have until the 28th to complete any activity before season’s end, when the summer transfer window opens.

This current window is the perfect opportunity for all the clubs, but especially the league’s leaders, to strengthen their current squads and put themselves on track for an end season run.

The transfer window has been open for about a week now, and some FAWSL clubs have been keen on dealing with their business early. Below is a roundup of all the early deals.


Villa started off the window strong by signing Mana Iwabuchi from Japanese football club INAC Kobe Leonessa. Iwabuchi has been a star for Japan since she made her international debut over a decade ago, back in 2010. She’s helped Japan win gold at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany, the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup (where she won the tournament’s MVP award), and the 2018 Asian Games. She also won silver at the 2012 London Olympic Games, and was a part of the team that finished runner up to the US at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.

Iwabuchi’s success for Japan has translated well into her club career —  she’s been incredibly successful, winning eight trophies with Nippon TV Tokyo Verdy Belezaher, the first club she played for in Japan, from 2007-2012. After those five years, she ended up in Germany, winning promotion with Hoffenheim in 2013, and winning two Frauen-Bundesliga with Bayern Munich in 2015 and 2016.

Iwabuchi’s stint with Villa will be her first in England, and Villa’s head coach, Gemma Davies stated that “not only will [Iwabuchi] bring a wealth of experience to the squad, but she will also add a different dimension to our attacking play. She is a very technical player that thrives in tight spaces, and we cannot wait to see her continue to develop at Aston Villa.”

Having won promotion last season from the Championship, Villa currently sit in 11th place this season. This signing shows that they want to do more than stay in the FAWSL, but also want to avoid having to continuously fight a relegation battle each season.



Chelsea started off the transfer window by bringing in another goalkeeper, signing Zećira Mušović from Swedish club FC Rosengård.

This is definitely an interesting signing to say the least, as Chelsea already have two fantastic goalkeepers — their number one, Ann-Katrin Berger, and their second keeper, Carly Telford.

With two fit and healthy goalkeepers, it does make Chelsea signing Mušović seem entirely unnecessary. The likelihood of the situation is that one of Berger or Telford will leave at the end of the season and Chelsea are attempting to prepare for it early, rather than attempt to sign a keeper in the summer. The most likely departure is Telford, whose contract is up at the end of May, and will likely be looking for a club that can guarantee her the starting goalkeeper position.

Mušović has quite a bit of experience for such a young player, having won bronze with Sweden at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and six trophies with FC Rosengård.

Chelsea, who are currently in third place in the league, are considered one of the best teams in the FAWSL, and much of it is due to their depth. It is unlikely that Mušović will come in and replace Berger as Chelsea’s starting keeper, but she will be a vital piece when called upon, and she is definitely one to watch for the future for both club and country.



Back in August of 2020, the Orlando Pride loaned Scottish forward Claire Emslie to Everton until the end of the calendar year, and Everton’s business thus far in the transfer window has been to make that deal permanent, with Emslie signing an 18 month contract with the club.

Everton this season have been a revelation, coming out the gates punching well above their fighting weight. They were unbeaten their first five league matches, winning the first four, and drawing the fifth. Since then, their form has dipped a bit, and it remains to be seen how the break will impact their form in the new year.

Emslie has been a fantastic addition to the team, contributing four goals in just six starts. She’s also quite familiar with the league, having been a key factor in helping Bristol City get promoted to the FAWSL back in 2017, and winning the domestic double with Manchester City during the 2018/19 season.

Everton is one of the teams attempting to break into the ranks of the ‘Big Three’ (Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City) by finishing in the top three and earning a spot in the Champions League. Everton has a strong starting XI, but the games in which they’ve struggled have demonstrated their lack of depth, a department that the ‘Big Three’ have little issues in. Signing Emslie on a permanent contract brings Everton that much closer to being on the same level as the top competition.

The FAWSL is back this weekend, with West Ham taking on Manchester City, and Aston Villa hosting Arsenal on the 9th. The transfer window will remain open, and we’ll likely see a lot of clubs continue to do their business until the final day. Stay tuned for next week’s transfer window roundup.

The halfway point of the FAWSL season is approaching, and while the players are away on international duty, coaching staffs are working on their plans for the second half of the season.

Each club has its own goals for the season, whether it is winning the league or simply avoiding relegation. For a team just promoted from the FA Women’s Championship, there are typically two objectives for their first season in the FAWSL: number one, don’t get relegated. Number two, build a team with a strong foundation—so you don’t get relegated in the years to come.

A tough challenge for any coach, but even more so for Gemma Davies, the FAWSL’s youngest manager. Aston Villa steamrolled the Championship last season with Davies at the helm, winning 13 matches and drawing one during their 14 game season, and finishing six points ahead of second-placed Sheffield United. Watching Villa dominate last season made it easy to forget how much the club once struggled, a testament to the work that Davies has done since she joined the club back in 2018.

The FAWSL is proving to be a new challenge for Davies and the team; they currently sit in 10th place with three points, having registered one win and four losses. The good news is that they are not in the relegation zone, nor are they in eleventh, just above relegation. Their one win against Brighton Hove & Albion back in early November has secured their spot above both Bristol City and Tottenham Hotspur. Furthermore, Villa have played one less game than Bristol City and two less than Tottenham, putting Villa in a position where they have the advantage.

Outside of the league, Villa have made positive strides in the Conti Cup, having topped their group after beating Durham 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw. They advanced to the knockout rounds, which will see the top eight teams compete for the cup.

The season is a marathon, not a sprint, but Villa’s upcoming four matches in the league may make or break their season. First, they host league leaders, Manchester United, and while Villa goes into the game as massive underdogs, their mentality regarding the match is vital.

Back in 2018, the same fixture occurred, with United beating Villa 12-0. Both teams were still in the Championship back then, and it was one of Davies’ first matches in charge of Aston Villa. The match was the biggest away win of the season and the highest-scoring match of the season for United.

That blowout is now considered a turning point in the recent history of Aston Villa. Davies herself said it was a “stark awakening” which shaped how she approached managing the team. Davies now has a chance to show her growth, with the same fixture two years on from that twelve-goal defeat.

After United, Villa takes on Bristol City and Tottehnham Hotspur in the league. These two matches are of critical importance given that both teams are below Villa in the table; this is an opportunity for Villa to pull further away from the relegation zone. Both their opponents are in poor form, and while it is important that Villa doesn’t get complacent, the team should go into both matches with confidence.

Villa’s fourth match in December will be against West Ham. At the time of writing, West Ham are one point ahead of Villa in the table. This is yet another opportunity for Villa to gain some more points.

Currently, West Ham have lost four of their last five, and they’ve just lost Matt Beard as head coach, who left the club by mutual consent. It remains to be seen as to whether West Ham will have hired a new permanent head coach by then, but even if they do, it takes time for a team to gel under a new manager. The Villa players will have the upper hand in large part because they know their manager’s system so well.

It’s always fascinating to see how promoted teams do in their first season in the top flight. By simply looking at the league table, it would seem like Aston Villa is massively struggling. But the Villans have a string of winnable games, and if those go their way, then Gemma Davies and her team are on their way to becoming a steady presence in the FAWSL.