Tag Archives: WSL

Chelsea vs Manchester City – Women’s FA Cup Final Preview

One thing we have come to expect from both Chelsea and Manchester City is trophies.

Funnily enough, the two sides met in their first final against each other earlier this year – having met in eight semi-finals in the past seven years alone.

The last five FA Cups have been won by either Manchester City or Chelsea, and this is something that the most successful club Arsenal will be trying to change next season.



Both sides are seen as favourites whenever they get to domestic finals, but we know that this time there can only be one winner. When the two sides met in the Continental Cup Final in February, it was City that were victorious – coming from behind to win 3-1.

When Chelsea manager Emma Hayes spoke about what would be different between that final and this weekends final, she mentioned that it was a depleted squad that competed for that last cup, and with this one, she thinks they’ll be more like their true selves, both in terms of squad availability, but also just mindset and mentality.

City arguably have had one of the biggest injury crises we have seen in the WSL for some time – going as far as having to use their third-choice keeper as well as playing wingers at full-back and midfielders at centre-back.

Luckily for them, City have been able to bring most of their players back from injury over the past few months and will be at full strength essentially for the final.

The strength of both squads is what makes this battle between two great clubs even more interesting and harder to predict.

Both teams seem to have adopted a winning culture, and anything less than that appears to be a disappointment for both players and managers. And having met as many times as they have in the latter stages of competitions, it doesn’t seem that it’s necessarily about surprises on the day – the key here will be execution.

Both sides have huge game changers, which is what makes them such competitive teams at the highest levels.

With City, it’s their wide threat through wingers Lauren Hemp and the newly fit Chloe Kelly.

Prior to her ACL injury last season, Kelly was probably the most in-form winger in the league. She’s someone that has beens able to provide important goals and assists, as well as causing defenders problems with her dribbling and speed.

They’re also able to suffocate opponents offensively because their full-backs, particularly Lucy Bronze, are able to get involved offensively too.

To add to this, City have goal scoring midfielders such as Caroline Weir and Georgia Stanway makes them even more of a threat because for opposition teams, there’s very few players in the City team that you can afford space to because they can hurt you both in the centre of the pitch and in the final third.

For Chelsea, their game changing aspect seems to be more varied. Their strength comes in the depth they have in the midfield and their versatility within middle of the pitch.

Hayes. who has often times this season changed formation during the game, knows that she can rely on experienced midfielder Guro Reiten – who has been in fine form in this second half of the season.

She’s contributing to goals weekly whether that be through goals or assists, but also she understands Hayes’ system so well that when tactical tweaks have to happen, she slots in seamlessly.

Erin Cuthbert is the same. The Scottish midfielder has been deployed in numerous positions for this Chelsea side and still churns out very high levels of performance.

The tenacity that can be found in this Blues midfield is what separates them from most clubs in the country.

When it comes to winning second balls, defending the first phase of set-pieces and crosses, Cuthbert always seems alert. This is something that is of extreme value especially in the games that are closely contested.

I don’t think much more has to be said on Sam Kerr’s big game record either – both for club and for country.

She constantly scores important goals when it’s needed on the big occasion and it won’t be a surprise to see her do the same this Sunday. Kerr seems to just have a knack for knowing both where to be but more importantly how to put the ball in the back of the net.

What do we know? That it will be an immense showcase of the talent that available in the WSL. Whether that will be from Chelsea retaining their title, or from City once again showing that they’re an extremely difficult team to beat in the FA Cup.

Three things we learnt from Women’s Football Weekend

Women’s Football weekend took place last week and was a rousing success for the women’s game in the United Kingdom.

Games across the top league were screened on television as exciting matches were played and new stars were born.

But what did we learn from the weekend as a whole and how did it help to shape the Women’s Super League season? Lets take a look at three things in particular that came to my attention.



Vivianne Miedema is clutch

Although this should have been common knowledge prior to Women’s football weekend, Vivianne Miedema showed once again why she is deemed one of the best in the world.

With Spurs on the brink of a historic victory against their north London rivals, Miedema rose the highest from a corner in the 92nd minute of the match to grab a point for her side.

Her stoppage time equaliser epitomised everything she’s about within the box – not only a hugely physical presence, but more so her desire to sniff out danger and weakness of the opposition.

Viv seemed to understand what was at stake as she headed the ball into the back of the net and her reaction to the goal summed up just how clutch she is.

Immediately after scoring, she instructed Nikita Parris to grab the ball and for the rest of her teammates to focus – shouting “THINK!” as her side sought after a winner. What a player. What a team.

Arsenal are becoming used to winning and it’s a feeling that Miedema wants to have running through the club. She embodies everything that the coach Jonas Eidvall is trying to create.


Rehanne Skinner is building a resilient team at Spurs.

Having taken over this Tottenham team mid-season, Rehanne Skinner was thrown into the deep end in regard to the fact that the Spurs team that she joined had yet to win a single game, despite being six games into a 22 game season.

She was tasked with steadying the ship last season and starting to build a team that would last in the WSL long term. After having worked with the players now for a year, this Women’s football week match epitomised everything that a Skinner team is about.

Spurs had never beaten Arsenal before, and this task was made even more difficult because of the great form that Arsenal are in – before the weekend, they were yet to drop a single point. However, Spurs were able to take away a point and were unlucky not to walk away with all three.

Rehanne Skinner, Head Coach of Tottenham Hotspur looks on following the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Tottenham Hotspur Women and...

The amount of defensive discipline on display from the whole team just shows how well drilled they’ve been by Skinner. Their awareness of high danger moments also points towards being an extremely well prepared team as well as the fact that they created many goal scoring opportunities down the other end.

You can really see the changes that Skinner is implementing with the team and everyone seems to be buying into her philosophy. A competitive Spurs only bodes well for making WSL derbies more competitive.


Manchester City are really in a tough spot right now

Manchester City’s injury crisis is unlike one that I’ve seen in recent time. At certain points, they’ve had 5 of their usual starting 11 out with long term injuries – luckily they’ve had Keira Walsh return to the starting line up following her injury lay-off.

It’s less than ideal having your first and second choice keepers out injured and it once again was an area that opposition looked to exploit. Normally these Chelsea vs Manchester City matches end up being the title deciders, however we were met with the opposite of that during Women’s football weekend.

City right now, especially in defence, look bereft of confidence and that is heavily down to the fact that they’re having to use a makeshift back four.

Ellen White of Manchester City is seen dejected during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Manchester City Women and Chelsea Women at...

Though Chelsea seemed to show no mercy as Jessie Fleming scored within the first 90 seconds of the game, I actually thought City did well with the ball and we saw shades of what we expect from them – a team that uses the ball really well and can carve out chances from any area of the pitch.

The main issue was that it seemed as though every single shot on target that Chelsea had was resulting in a goal, whilst City were less clinical offensively.

As their injured players trickle back into the squad I expect City to turn it around soon, but they’re definitely in a bad spot right now as results don’t seem to be going their way – suffering heavy defeats to the other “Big 3” members.

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.

WSL Matchday 6 Report – Arsenal still flying, Reading dominant whilst United hit a block

We are already into match day six of the 2021/22 Women’s Super League season and so far, other than the injury-stricken start to the season that Manchester City are having, we are yet to see many upsets to the other components of the ‘Big Three’.

Whilst City have dropped numerous points to opposition that they previously would have comfortably beaten, Arsenal have been completely dominant – yet to drop a single point in the WSL so far, and only conceding two goals in the first game of the season against reigning champions Chelsea.

Meanwhile Tottenham, who in the previous season found themselves in a relegation battle, have enjoyed a great start with four wins out of the first five games.

Week six brought us some matchups that saw teams that we could expect to finish in and around that fourth spot – with Manchester United taking on Spurs while Everton and Brighton faced off. Here’s what happened.



Aston Villa 0-1 Chelsea

Ever the embodiment of a Carla Ward side, Aston Villa presented a difficult entity for Chelsea to breakdown.

As expected Chelsea absolutely dominated the ball, having 76 percent possession and boasting 16 shots in the game, despite Emma Hayes heavily rotating her starting lineup.

Within this, a rare start for the talented Canadian starlet Jessie Fleming – who went on to score the eventual winner; scoring a neat and composed finish following a great pick out from Ji.

The defensive set-up from Villa definitely did its job in frustrating Chelsea, but the quality that they possess – even when they rotate – is clear to see.

Everton 0-1 Brighton

Following the managerial change that happened at Everton after the sacking of Willie Kirk, I was interested to see how they’d look against a well drilled side in Brighton who like Tottenham, have enjoyed a good start to this new season.

New Everton manager Jean-Luc Vasseur attempted to provide some stability to his new squad by keeping the same starting XI as the midweek cup match, and someone who benefited from this was Kenza Dali, who again looked like a bright spot in the Everton team.

Despite this, it was Brighton that were able to score the winner in the second half, after Danielle Carter played in Aileen Whelan – a win that puts them fourth in the table as it stands.

Tottenham 1-1 Manchester United

As a United fan assessing the opposition before the game, I was aware that Tottenham were going to be narrow and compact – a problem that Manchester United boss Marc Skinner also alluded to both pre and post-match.

There seems to be a real lack of width in Skinner’s United side – an area that was previously used as a point of emphasis under Casey Stoney. Under Stoney we saw left-winger Leah Galton being utilised a lot more than she currently is, stretching opponents with not only width but also her pace and trickery at the by-line with her ability to accurately cross.

However, against Spurs, we once again saw a real lack of width which often made it easy for them to stop United in their attacks.

A key missing point for the United side was also the absence of midfielder Jackie Groenen who is vital in how they set the pace of the game.

Too many times were the United midfield especially caught on the ball in that first half and they were lucky to go into the half 1-0 up. That goal does however need its own special mention as Alessia Russo (who I’ve previously spoken so highly of), brought some individual brilliance with a wonder strike on the brink of HT.

She was on bully mode for the entire game – constantly pinning defenders on the halfway line and beyond. This allowed her not only to relieve pressure on the team, but also to bring the wingers and fullbacks into play. Her fantastic performance, as well as crucial saves once again from United keeper Mary Earps almost brought the team the three points. 

However, Spurs stayed in the game till the very end, and their determination paid dividend as defender Millie Percival saw her 94th minute free-kick sail all the way in without a touch. The bounce appeared to confuse everybody in the box and much to the delight of the Spurs players, rewarded the side with a well-earned point.

Leicester 1-4 Man City

Leicester scored what was only their third goal of this league campaign against a City side that are slowly starting to get important players trickling back into the side following injury lay-offs.

However, the Foxes goal in the first 90 seconds of the game didn’t stop City from sealing all three points – with Leicester continuing to give away too many chances in games.

They managed to carve out some chances in the game, but overall City were too good for them and managed to overpower them in the end. Lauren Hemp was a constant threat and the pick of the bunch from the City goals has to be awarded to Keira Walsh who unleashed an unstoppable shot from outside of the area giving the keeper no chance.

Birmingham City 0-3 Reading

Birmingham City were unable to respond to Reading’s dominant display at their ground – with another young Canadian starlet Deanne Rose shining brightest.

Kelly Chambers’ Reading side looks to be shaking off their initial early season rust and have now put together two consecutively strong performances in the league, with the forwards especially in this game combining well.

The loss however puts an even bigger strain on Birmingham City in their bid to stay in the league, as they still only have one point on the table. They’ll be looking to start building in next week’s derby against Villa.

Molly Bartrip of Reading tackles Sarah Mayling of Birmingham during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Reading Women and Birmingham...

Arsenal 4-0 West Ham

Where to start with Arsenal? They simply just do not look like conceding right now, and this coupled with the fact that they seem to be scoring at will makes them an extremely scary prospect for the league and for their competitors’ title chances.

Once again, the ever-dependable Kim Little was front and centre to everything good that Arsenal did in the game. The nimble and intelligent Little opened the scoring with some clinical finishing late into the first half and not content with just scoring one, she went on to score her 50th league goal soon into the second half also.

Not wanting to miss out on the fun, probably one of the most in-form people in football right now Beth Mead joined in, adding a third after great work from Nikita Parris in the middle of the pitch.

The great thing about this Arsenal side is that they look like they can score from any area of the pitch, as well as the fact that they work with such intensity even when out of possession in order to win the ball back. West Ham made some good openings, but Arsenal never really looked like conceding.


Next Week is Women’s Football Week, so look out for some ones to watch on Friday!