Women’s Super League: Talking points from the weekend’s action

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Arsenal’s title hopes remain hanging by a thread

Arsenal’s title chase hit a huge stumbling block on Sunday as they suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to struggling West Ham. After a dominant first-half performance that saw them lead 1-0, Jonas Eidevall’s side completely dropped the ball, with disastrous consequences. Arsenal have now lost three WSL games this season and the statistics do not point to a late title win: previous champions have never lost more than two. Perhaps the biggest concern is that these three defeats have come against teams they can more than beat: Liverpool, Tottenham and now West Ham. Reflecting on the latest setback, Eidevall said: “We are very disappointed about that. “It’s a frustrating lesson that we’re starting the second half as slowly as we did, but we have to focus on the things we can control – that’s the coming games.” Emilia Hawkins

Match Report: West Ham 2-1 Arsenal

Harris’ Brighton era begins with defeat

All eyes were on Leigh Sports Village as Brighton took to the pitch for the first time under the management of Mikey Harris. Brighton’s new interim manager had been given charge just three days earlier following the shock sacking of Melissa Phillips. Early on, not much seemed to change for the Seagulls, who performed well at times, as they have done all season, but threatened little. Ultimately, they were defeated 2–0 by Manchester United, registering only two shots on target, both from Elisabeth Terland. United’s Marc Skinner has arguably been under more pressure than Phillips this season and similar frustrations have persisted. Despite a win that left them just four points behind the Champions League places, they struggled to create at times and recorded one of their lowest xG of the season. Skinner will thank his lucky stars for the form of Nikita Parris, whose brace took her tally to eight for the season. Sophie Downey

Related: WSL roundup: Manchester United sink Brighton as Liverpool rescue draw from Spurs

Manchester City extends winning streak

Apart from Chelsea, Manchester City are arguably the in-form team this season and they extended their impressive run to seven straight wins at the Joie Stadium. It wasn’t exactly bright from Gareth Taylor’s side at times, who were made to work hard by a resilient Leicester, but they dug in and found a way to secure a 2-0 win. It’s rare these days that Khadija Shaw isn’t among the goals, but once again City’s dynamic wingers showed up. The form of both Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly was remarkable and they finally unlocked the Foxes’ stubborn defense as the match drew to a close. Both finishes were striking in themselves: Hemp went for the acrobatics before Kelly scored straight from a corner two minutes later. It was a result that saw them continue to put pressure on Chelsea at the top, their next opponents when the competition resumes in 11 days’ time. SD

Jones shows Villa how it’s done

Bristol City’s Carrie Jones showed Aston Villa’s attackers how to finish with a 25-yard screamer to make it 2-2 at the Bescot Stadium. After a poor clearance from Villa midfielder Kenza Dali, Jones controlled the loose ball, looked up to take her spot and smashed it into the top right corner past a helpless Daphne van Domselaar. After the match, Bristol City manager Lauren Smith did not seem surprised by the midfielder’s strike. “If Carrie picks it up and puts herself out there… it only goes one way. She is clinical in those areas. Aston Villa, on the other hand, were far from clinical. The home side had 72% possession and scored 36 shots compared to the visitors’ four attempts. Despite Carla Ward’s side dominating the match, Bristol City held on as Villa piled on the pressure, culminating in two goal-line clearances late in the match. They’ll need more last-ditch defense and stunning offense if they want to stay afloat this year. Xaymaca Awoyungbo

Chelsea win overshadowed by penalties and cards

Everton midfielder Clare Wheeler was the center of attention in Everton’s 3-0 defeat to WSL leaders Chelsea at Kingsmeadow. The Australian international gave away two penalties either side of half-time – with the first possibly understandable, but still harsh. She cleared the ball well before catching Johanna Rytting Kaneryd. Guro Reiten sent the penalty past Courtney Brosnan to give the champions the lead. The second, after 72 minutes, was clearer as Wheeler struggled to keep up with Mayra Ramírez, who looked brilliant in her first start for Chelsea. It was all too much for Everton manager, Brian Sørensen, who was first shown a yellow card and then a red card for dissent after some confusion surrounding some late substitutions he wanted to make. XA

Tottenham gives in again and drops two points

As the clock ticked down at Prenton Park, it looked like we would witness something as rare as a clean sheet for Tottenham. In the past 29 league games going into the weekend, they have only failed to score twice. Make that 30. As the match progressed, Marie Höbinger neatly evaded a challenge on the edge of the area by sending the ball behind Barbora Votikova to ensure the match finished 1–1. Tottenham manager Robert Vilahamn was nevertheless pleased with the team’s performance, including the defence. “They defended very well because Liverpool didn’t get many chances and the goal actually came from a miscommunication,” he said. “So I’m happy with the way we pressed and how we defended.” Marcus Christenson







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