Women’s Super League: talking points from the weekend’s action | Women’s Super League

Can Taylor turn things around at Manchester City?

Gareth Taylor said he believed his Manchester City team could still be playing Champions League football next season despite two wins from seven league games. “We know we’re up against some strong opposition especially when we’re probably – well, no probably about it – not strongest in terms of our squad depth,” he said. “But nothing changes. The attitude is still to be in Europe. We still believe that we can get there. We know that today if we had won the game, we would have been a lot closer. But I still think there’s plenty to come.“ City’s bruising 4-0 defeat by the champions Chelsea means City have conceded 16 times in seven games and have the league’s joint second-worst defensive record. They had the second-best defensive record last season, conceding 13 times across the 22-game campaign. Although City had the edge in terms of possession and matched Chelsea’s six shots on target, they weren’t clinical, were error-prone in defence and devoid of luck. Whether Taylor is capable of turning things around is the looming question. SW

Match report: Manchester City 0-4 Chelsea

Spurs show how far they have come

On 19 March 2017 Arsenal put 10 past Tottenham as they cruised into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. The teams had met eight timessince then before Saturday’s match, including one pre-season friendly, and Spurs had lost every time, conceding 32 goals and sscoring four. Their best result came last season when losing on penalties in the League Cup after a 2-2 draw. This is the context to Saturday’s historic 1-1 draw. The point earned is a huge testament to the long-term development of the team and short-term progress under the former England assistant coach Rehanne Skinner. Had Spurs lost again to the usually rampant Gunners it would not have tarnished their hugely impressive performances this season. Tottenham have 14 points from seven games and sit one point behind the equally eye-catching Brighton, who occupy the third Champions League spot. “We know that we’re aiming for Champions League, but when that arrives we don’t know the answer to that right now,” Skinner said. “We’ve just got to make sure that we improve on last year … and provide consistent performances.” SW

Match report: Tottenham 1-1 Arsenal

Women’s Football Weekend needs more backing

It will be great for the women’s game when a Women’s Football Weekend is no longer needed because attendances and media coverage are equal to the men’s. The game isn’t there yet, so the flagship event is valuable in raising its profile. An example of a positive outcome came in 2019 when more than 38,000 people attended the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to watch the north London derby. Such an impact was achieved because the weekend was fully backed by clubs and media but this year it feels as if it lacked support. Only Brighton switched their match to the club’s men’s stadium to increase the attendance. Although it was advertised across the BBC, Sky and some social media, the promotional campaign had to be bigger. Some matches were broadcast on the BBC and Sky but three games were on the FA Player and surely this was the weekend to get every game on TV. In the past, games had staggered kick-offs so fans could watch each but this year two matches, the Birmingham derby and Brighton v Leicester, started at 2pm on Sunday. It felt as if the event came and went without the attention it deserved and with stunning performances and scores across the board a big opportunity has been missed. SR

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Defensive blunder costs United

Manchester United were well on their way to another three points but a defensive error involving Maria Thorisdóttir and the goalkeeper Mary Earps handed Everton’s Simone Magill a second-half equaliser. Thorisdóttir attempted to guard the ball by fending off Magill, who was attempting to get a shot away at the edge of the box. Instead of trusting her defender and taking her position in goal, Earps came to try to catch the ball. Magill got her foot to it and kicked it straight through Earps’s arms. With Thorisdóttir still right by her opponent, no one was on the line to make a last-ditch effort to clear. The backline seems to be United’s achilles heel. SR

Simone Magill celebrates with teammates after scoring Everton’s equaliser against Manchester United.
Simone Magill celebrates with teammates after scoring Everton’s equaliser against Manchester United. Photograph: Emma Simpson – Everton FC/Everton FC/Getty Images

Symonds’ stunner seals win at the death

Bend it like Beckham? Who needs that saying when you can spiral it like Symonds? Brighton’s match against Leicester was 0-0 in injury time and the visitors were looking at their first point when Brighton won a free-kick and Maisie Symonds stepped up. Her strike curled perfectly into the net over the goalkeeper Kirstie Levell’s head. Brighton’s manager, Hope Powell, said of Symonds: “She’s a confident kid, so when she was standing over the free-kick with Inessa [Kaagman] I thought she was going to go for goal; she practises those sort of set pieces a lot. It was a great goal to win it and it’s nice to be up in the top three but we know we can do better.” SR

Asante’s first goal of the season

The defender Anita Asante is a talisman for Aston Villa and highlighted why by propelling them to their third victory of the season. Villa won a corner which Sarah Mayling swung into the box and Asante beat Birmingham’s defenders to the ball to score her first goal of the campaign. Asante’s header also sealed Villa’s first Birmingham derby WSL win and the manager Carla Ward’s first victory over her former club. Asante told the BBC: “I just watched the flight of the ball and I knew it was on my head so I had to attack it. If I hadn’t, [assistant coach] Alan Reeves would have been on my case.” SR

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