Tag Archives: Kim Little

Women’s Football Weekend: Ones to watch

With Women’s Football Weekend fast approaching, it wouldn’t be fair to not dissect the players that you should you keep your eyes absolutely peeled to.

Due to injury we don’t have the full radar of the leagues talent on show, but there’s still so many showstoppers that you should be on the lookout for.

In order to not overwhelm you, I’ll keep the list brief – but you definitely don’t want to miss these players during this upcoming game week.

Lauren Hemp (Manchester City)
Position: Winger

It wouldn’t be right to do a ‘ones to watch’ list without the talent that is Lauren Hemp.

Outside of her Manchester City and England teammate Chloe Kelly (who is still recovering from her ACL injury), she’s probably the most electric player in the league. What makes her stand out amongst other people is the fact that she can beat every single full-back in the world with her direct and positive running. 

Her first thought always seems to be beating the defender and driving into the dangerous areas in the final third. Another thing that makes her so electric also revolves around the fact that she is comfortable going down the byline and whipping in a cross, but also cutting in on the inside and delivering a shot or killer pass.

Either way, her unpredictable nature, speed and decision making makes her an easy decision for ones to watch – both this weekend and beyond.

Lauren Hemp of Manchester City and Jess Carter of Chelsea in action during the Vitality Women's FA Cup Semi Final match between Manchester City and...

Kim Little (Arsenal)
Position: Midfielder 

Kim Little – where do I start? Probably the most dependable player in the league.

Between her intelligent movement, understanding of her teammates movement, and her ability to make a moment (even when dealing with scraps) is unmatched.

What makes her so dependable is the fact that this ‘moment’ with Little, may not even necessarily be a goal. She seems to just understand exactly what her team needs at that given moment and she delivers it. 

This could be her ball retention when her team is under severe pressure, but also the fact that she can single-handedly dance her way through a midfield and put it on a plate for her attackers.

Based on how Arsenal have been looking this season, it’s been the latter as she’s been popping up with goals and assists weekly. But her intelligence is a joy to watch and someone that I recommend playing close attention to as she’s at the heart of everything good Arsenal do.

Kim Little of Arsenal during the UEFA Women's Champions League group C match between HB Koge and Arsenal WFC at Koge Stadium on November 10, 2021 in...

Sarah Mayling (Aston Villa)
Position: Full-back 

Sarah Mayling is known for the whip she gets on all her crosses, set-pieces or not. She has to be included in this ones to watch list because given the fact that it’s a local derby against what was her former club Birmingham City, I expect her to have to say in what the eventual result is. 

We’ve all heard of a set-piece specialist, but Mayling appears to have mastered how to manipulate the ball especially when crossing or taking free-kicks.

More notably, her set pieces have sparked numerous comebacks for her club and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her changing the game with her deliveries this weekend.

Villa have started well and so I expect them to be on the front foot in this game – giving Mayling the license to go forward and shine.

Sarah Mayling of Aston Villa in action during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Reading Women and Aston Villa Women at Select Car...

Jessie Fleming (Chelsea)
Position: Midfielder 

Since Fleming’s arrival last season, she has struggled for minutes in this absolutely stacked Chelsea side.

This has had less to do with her ability, but more so the fact that this Chelsea team is filled with top class talent all over the pitch. Following her success with Canada at the Olympics, she seems to have started this season full of confidence off the back of winning Olympic gold.

Her cameo performances earlier on in the season have seen her rewarded with consecutive starts – and she’s been sure to take her chance. 

The thing that makes her a standout for this weekend is the fact that she’s unpredictable. She fully understands the role that’s required of her in that Chelsea midfield –  between supplying the wingers but also making sure that she’s aiding the attack by making third-player runs into the box and arriving late.

Her ability to do this has made her so dangerous because she’s an excellent finisher as well as the fact that her decision making is beyond her years. I can see her making more strides this weekend as Chelsea look to make strides towards the title.

Jessie Fleming of Chelsea celebrates after scoring her team's first goal during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Aston Villa Women...

Hannah Blundell (Manchester United)
Position: Full-back 

There are numerous Manchester United players I could have put as the ones to watch out for.

Having already spoken to glowingly about Ella Toone and Alessia Russo’s partnership, I thought I’d choose somebody who has brought so much to the team both in an attacking and defending sense.

After spending eight years of her senior career at Chelsea, Hannah Blundell made the switch up north – in search of more playing time.

Her ability to stay calm defensively as well as in offensive areas has seen her slot into the United line-up seamlessly. She’s already registered three assists this season, and I can see her adding to that tally this weekend.

Despite the difference in location, United vs Everton games have been played as though it were a derby since Casey Stoney’s tenure – with United coming out victorious most of the time.

Hannah Blundell of Manchester United Women during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Leicester City Women and Manchester United Women...

That being said I expect Blundell to have a lot to do this weekend and she will need to be switched on, but there will be space for her to exploit and offer support to the forwards.

United have a legacy to protect when it comes to our fixtures against Everton and I’m sure Blundell will thrive on that pressure.


Arsenal Women are a force to be reckoned with and serious title contenders

Last season Arsenal fell below their usual standards and found themselves uncharacteristically in a battle for the third and final Champions League spot with the ever-improving Manchester United.

However this summer the club had arguably it’s best transfer in recent history and that has resulted in them having both an elite first and second-string team.

Their supreme transfer window is just one of many reasons why they’re currently looking so dangerous; coupled with their managerial change, squad depth, and debatably the presence of one of the world’s best midfielders – Kim Little.

Don’t be mistaken, Arsenal already had an extremely good squad filled with internationals prior to this window. Their spine has been secure and for the past few years and they found a way to dominate teams due to their great balance of physical and technical ability.

Most notably, there always seemed to be an overload in midfield from Arsenal which was often hard for the opposition to deal with.

This summer they lost key members of their midfield in Jill Roord and Danielle Van De Donk. However, their response to this has been a mark of title contenders.

The combination of midfield signings that they made speaks volumes about both the short and long-term goals of the club.

Danielle van de Donk and Jill Roord of Arsenal during the Arsenal Women's training session at Arsenal Academy on March 25, 2021 in Walthamstow,...

The signing of Norway starlet Frieda Maanum, who is still only 22 and has already shown such great maturity in her play, as well as Japanese international star Mana Iwabuchi who already took the WSL by storm last season after her short stint at Aston Villa.

In those two, they’ve added dynamic midfielders who not only replace the skills lost but add a different direction of balance for the team going forward long-term.

This alongside with the singings of Tobin Heath and Nikita Parris who also bring experience and tenacity in the forward areas has given Arsenal another dimension to dominate this season and really compete for the title at the end of it.

Heath recently referred to the Scottish magician Kim Little as ‘the best player she has ever played with’ – which is an extremely high compliment coming from one of the most decorated athletes in the sport.

Kim Little of Arsenal before the UEFA Women's Champions League group C match between FC Barcelona and Arsenal WFC at Estadi Johan Cruyff on October...

Nonetheless, this seems like a fitting method of expression for the midfielder who seems to have no major flaw. Her understanding of the game is evident on the pitch, both regarding the spaces she picks up and also her anticipation of her movement as well as her teammates.

The best way to describe Little (outside of her small stature), is controlled. Everything she does in midfield seems to be completely intentional and calculated, whether that be providing the final ball or driving with the ball to free up space for other attackers.

Her presence gives the team stability and a clear tactical-nous – which is a major reason why head coach Jonas Eidevall has consistently relied on her. Her game intelligence has aided him so much in his adaptation period to the club because she is able to pick up the team’s game-plan with ease, allowing him to focus on the finer details when preparing.

Little’s capabilities have also meant that she has undertaken numerous roles in the midfield this year – more recently closer to the goalscorer as seen against Everton, and Little’s versatility and ability have proven pivotal to the team as they have dominated every team in the league so far.

Arsenal Women Head Coach Jonas Eidevall during the UEFA Women's Champions League group C match between Arsenal WFC and 1899 Hoffenheim at Meadow Park...

Having the stability that Little provides has also given Arsenal a basis to build their attacks outside of wing-play which has given them another dimension, which could prove decisive come the end of the season.

Finally, the managerial change could be another turning point towards Arsenal reclaiming the league that they last won in the 2018-19 season.

Following the departure of Joe Montemurro, the club replaced him with Eidevall who was previously at Champions League club FC Rosengard.

He has already boasted huge victories against both Chelsea and Man City so far this season, but what has garnered the most attention is his ability to be tactically perceptive – both of opponents and formation shapes.

He also has figured out how to best utilise his squad, even in abstract ways. We have seen him go into depth about how he views the importance of formation shapes and being able to change this formation mid-game.

Kim Little of Arsenal Women celebrates scoring her teams first goal during the UEFA Women's Champions League group C match between Arsenal WFC and...

His ability to rotate to do this shows that the club is already well drilled in how he wants to play, despite not being at the club for long. This bodes well for not only his ability to play against the rest of the league but more importantly his aptitude for going toe-to-toe with the other title challengers.

All in all, Arsenal’s early form is giving more excitement and buzz to fans of the sport as well as neutrals who just enjoy watching good football. Last season, we saw a title race that went down to the final day, and if Arsenal keeps up this early form, we could see the same happen again.