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The Shaw Supremacy
Miedema dropped for Arsenal, a defensive renaissance for Chelsea, and goals galore with Konchesky
It’s been a big week for English women’s football after Arsenal and Chelsea picked up important Champions League wins away at Lyon and Paris St-Germain respectively. Arsenal were particularly impressive, thrashing the holders 5-1, but generally it bodes well for the performances of the English teams in this year’s competition. Both Arsenal and Chelsea also picked up 2-0 wins in the WSL too, as there was a solid win for Manchester City, slightly nervier wins for Everton and Manchester United, and some bonkers fun at West Ham vs Reading.
Still no draws though.
Liverpool 0 - Arsenal 2
The key change that Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall made to his Arsenal side before their match against Lyon was to bring Frida Maanum in for Vivianne Miedema. Maanum kept her place here against Liverpool, scoring a lovely goal which saw her burst through the Liverpool defence with all the physicality that Eidevall desires from his side. Is it possible that Eidevall carries on leaving Miedema out of the team to play Maanum? Against both Lyon and Liverpool when Miedema did come on as a substitute, she was returned to her former life as a no 9, perhaps indicating that the experiment of her in a deeper role is coming to an end. It will certainly leave Stina Blackstenius in an awkward position if so.
Shout out to Lia Walti as well who scored her first WSL goal in her fifth season in the league.
Brighton 0 - Chelsea 2
This was a much changed Chelsea side on their annual worrying visit to Brighton, and given the waterlogged pitch and consistent rain, it is a small miracle that they actually came away with three points. Probably the two stand-out starters for Chelsea were Jess Carter and Johanna Ryting Kaneryd.
Carter had not played a single minute for Chelsea so far this season but looked entirely unphased by the situation, bringing a level of confidence and solidity to the defence that has not always been present this year. There might be a decision to be made over whether she should regain her starting spot, and if so, who of star summer signing Kadeisha Buchanan and captain Magda Eriksson drop out.
Meanwhile, Kaneryd made good on the promise of some of her substitute performances and would likely have contributed more in the way of goals and/or assists if it had actually been possible to dribble in the penalty area. As it was, she had an effort crash off the bar, whilst showing a ferocious directness. All in all, a pleasing night out for Chelsea after a big effort week.
West Ham 3 - Reading 2
Konchesky ball update? Very fun. West Ham went 3-0 up against Reading within the first half hour thanks to some electric play from their front three of Thea Kyvag, Viviane Asseyi and Lisa Evans. Asseyi in particular shone with some really clinical finishing, but Kyvag’s impact on this West Ham team is astounding given that she is only 18 years old. She looks totally adept in the WSL and is yet another gem discovered by West Ham’s scouting system.
The only problem Konchesky might have is defensive issues. West Ham are the WSL’s highest scorers outside of the traditional top four but their goal difference is -1. It did not help here that their two first choice centre-backs were unavailable through injury and suspension, whilst goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold also had to go off injured, but they have a tendency to seemingly switch off once they go ahead. If they can work on that, this could be a serious team this season.
Tottenham 0 - Manchester City 3
The Bunny Shaw supremacy continues at Manchester City as they brushed aside a Spurs team who continue to look very lacklustre this season. Shaw is currently scoring at a rate of one goal every 65 minutes, having managed five in four games, and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Only Aston Villa are averaging more crosses per 90 than Manchester City, who are thriving off the direct play of Chloe Kelly and Lauren Hemp in order to feed balls into Shaw. It’s not all about headers for her though, her second here was a fantastic strike from outside the box. City have got a relatively nice run of fixtures all the way until the Manchester derby on the 11th December so there is a good chance we see them pick up a lot of points before they get their next big test.
Aston Villa 0 - Everton 1
For the second week in a row, Aston Villa can probably feel hard done by to have finished the weekend without any points. Rachel Daly’s movement, dropping deeper to pick up the ball, suggested Carla Ward had been assessing how best to get her free from the attentions of opposition defenders, and there was some wonderful interplay between Alisha Lehmann, Kenza Dali and Kirsty Hanson. Laura Blindkilde Brown was also a lot more involved in an attacking sense, and the 19 year old does not look out of place next to these more experienced players. Everton though took their chance when it mattered with a goal from Lucy Graham, another confidence boosting win for Brian Sorensen’s side, who remain a bit goal shy but are proving themselves difficult to break down. Aside from their match against Chelsea, they have only conceded one goal in four games.
Villa will not have to wait long to get revenge though - the two face each other in the Continental Cup group stage on Wednesday.
Leicester City 0 - Manchester United 1
Manchester United continued to keep pace with Arsenal at the top of the WSL table thanks to a Nikita Parris header but Leicester did not make things easy for them. They continue to show that they are a well organised team but they just have no ruthless attacking edge. The only goal they have scored this season was by Tottenham’s Drew Spence in their 2-1 loss for the WSL opener. Leicester face Reading next week with both teams being the only sides still on zero points, so something will have to give, and we might get a clearer idea of who is truly facing the drop this season.