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FAWSL Week 16 Roundup: Manchester and London go blue

Photo: Geraint Nicholas/Sports Press Photo.

Both London and Manchester were blue this week, as Chelsea and Manchester City both secured wins over their cross-town rivals. While Chelsea sit in first in the Women’s Super League table, City aren’t far behind, setting up what might be a crucial tilt between the two on April 25.

Meanwhile, the wheels may be falling off for both Arsenal and Manchester United, as both have now suffered two losses in a row. Right now, Arsenal sit nine points back of United for third, but the Gunners have two games in hand. If both squads can win their remaining matches – which, given current form, may be a difficult task — their match on March 18 may prove to be crucial to a third place finish.

Read on for all the news from the WSL’s mid-week and weekend action:

Chelsea 3, Arsenal 0

Chelsea delivered a convincing 3-0 defeat to London rivals Arsenal on Wednesday. Though Chelsea started on the front foot and Arsenal looked wobbly at the back early, they settled in, and the first half was a relatively even affair, as both sides came close to a breakthrough. In the 20th minute, Vivianne Miedema took advantage of a turnover, and forced a kick save out of Chelsea keeper Ann-Katrin Berger. And at the other end, Fran Kirby had a chance of her own in the 33rd minute, when she forced Arsenal keeper Lydia Williams to make a diving save.

But after going into the halftime break even, Chelsea asserted their dominance in the second half. Pernille Harder found a breakthrough just three minutes into the half, ripping a shot past Williams from outside of the 18. It was a poor giveaway from the Gunners in their own half that lead to the goal:

Harder wasn’t done there, as she added a second just 10 minutes later. Chelsea diced through Arsenal’s defense, and Kirby delivered the final pass to Harder in the box, which she made no mistake finishing first time:

And Kirby delivered the final blow herself in the 90th minute:

Manchester City 3, Manchester United 0

City earned their seventh straight WSL win on Friday, defeating United by three goals to nil. Three Americans featured in the derby, as Abby Dahlkemper and Christen Press started and played the full match for City and United respectively, while Rose Lavelle came into the match in the 85th minute for City. All three will meet up with the U.S. women’s national team for the She Believes Cup.

Lucy Bronze opened the scoring in the 23rd minute. United couldn’t clear a corner kick and Bronze was there to finish off the rebound:

City added a second in the 71st minute. Chloe Kelly unleashed a powerful shot that forced a diving save from United keeper Mary Earps, and Lauren Hemp was unmarked and in the perfect position to slot home the rebound.

And as the minutes ticked down, Caroline Weir decided that two just wasn’t enough. She delivered the crushing blow in the 84th minute, when she created space for herself at the top of United’s box and executed a perfect chip over Earps’ head. As The Equalizer’s Jeff Kassouf said, put this one on the the Puskas Award shortlist for 2021 already:

United is clearly feeling the absence of the injured Tobin Heath, who quickly brought a spark to their offense when she signed in September (she has four goals and two assists in eight league games). With her central positioning, Press has been isolated at times up top and isn’t seeing enough of the ball to have a significant impact on United’s goal scoring tally.

Meanwhile, Sam Mewis is also still recovering from injury and did not feature in the match for City. U.S. Soccer announced this week that Mewis will miss the She Believes Cup and will stay in England instead to continue her rehab.

Brighton & Hove Albion 1, West Ham United 0

Brighton followed up last Sunday’s huge win over Chelsea with a 1-0 win over West Ham on Wednesday. Brighton are making a habit of scoring off of corner kicks, as Wednesday’s goal was sent in by Megan Connolly and finished by Aileen Whelan, the same two who combined for Brighton’s first goal against Chelsea.


Reading 1, Everton 1

Nicoline Sorensen’s late equalizer for Everton cancelled out Rachel Rowe’s first half goal for Reading, ensuring that the points were shared on Sunday. The two clubs sit even on points in the table with 19 each, though Everton have two games in hand.

After Reading’s big win last week over Manchester United, The Equalizer’s Blair Newman wrote about their impressive results against top teams this season:

How Reading continue to trouble the FAWSL’s big clubs

Chelsea 5, Bristol City 0

A brace from Fran Kirby, and goals from Pernille Harder, Sam Kerr and Beth England secured a smooth 5-0 win for Chelsea over Bristol City on Sunday.

That’s six points earned for the Blues this week after they wobbled last last week in their 2-1 loss to Brighton.

But it wasn’t all bad news for Bristol City fans this week, as striker Ebony Salmon was called up by England for the first time. She will join the Lionesses this week for the team’s camp ahead of a friendly against Northern Ireland next week. The Equalizer‘s Blair Newman wrote about her sharp form this season.

Postponed this week, all due to frozen pitches:

Aston Villa vs. Arsenal — (Sunday, February 14)

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Bristol City — (Wednesday, February 10)

Birmingham City vs. Aston Villa — (Wednesday, February 10)


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