Since returning after a long Christmas and winter break the WSL is back in full swing, the title race is well and truly heating up as well as the fight for survival.
The big news over the winter break was the injury of Sam Kerr, the Chelsea superstar suffered a serious ACL injury during a warm weather training camp in Morocco. She would undoubtedly be a huge miss in Emma Hayes’ final few months in charge as she has been so consistent season upon season for the Blues.
However, the injury has paved the way for England sensation Lauren James to shine, after scoring a hat-trick against her old club Manchester United the week before, she scored another 2 goals past Brighton on Saturday and her England teammate Fran Kirby grabbed the other in a 3-0 victory away from home. The win leaves Chelsea at the top of the table with 31 points, while Brighton sit in 10th place with 11 points, 6 points off the bottom.
On Sunday, a slight bit of pressure was eased on Manchester United boss Marc Skinner as his side narrowly beat Carla Ward’s Aston Villa side 2-1 thanks to two first-half goals from Nikita Parris. Rachel Daly scored for Villa but it just wasn’t enough. The win for United saw them move onto 21 points and remain in fourth place but they are 6 points away from third place, and from a side who finished second last season behind Chelsea, it’s not going according to plan for them. Villa sit in 8th place with 12 points, but after their extremely poor start to the season, they now sit 7 points clear of the relegation zone.
Manchester City remain in red-hot form as they picked up another victory against Spurs. City’s new star midfielder Jill Roord had picked up an ACL injury in the midweek league cup game against United leaving her out for the remainder of the season. So after an own goal from Spurs defender Amy Turner which sent City 1-0 up Lauren Hemp ran to the bench and held up a shirt for Roord showing her teammates are all with her throughout her recovery process. Spurs played ok during the game, however, just 6 minutes into the second half who else but Bunny Shaw secured the win for Gareth Taylor’s side by making it 2-0, scoring her 13th goal of the season. City remain in second place, just 3 points off the top and with them due to play Chelsea in a couple of weeks, that could be the game that decides the title race. Spurs remain in 6th place on 18 points, just behind Liverpool on goal difference.
In Arsenal’s midweek league cup game, we saw the much-anticipated return of England captain Leah Williamson. She came on as a sub and secured an assist as Beth Mead scored. Against Matt Beard’s Liverpool side Arsenal struggled to break down their rigid defence despite dominating possession, but in the second half, two goals within 9 minutes was enough to secure the victory. Vivianne Miedema hit a rocket past Rachael Laws to score her first WSL goal since December 2022 (as she to had been out for so long with an ACL injury). The other goal came from Caitlin Foord who got across her defender to tap in from Alessia Russo’s ball across. The win see’s Jonas Eidevall's side stay in third place but they are level with Man City on 28 points and they too are piling the pressure on Chelsea. Liverpool still sit 5th on 18 points.
In a pivotal game between the two sides at the bottom of the table West Ham narrowly beat Bristol City 2-1, thanks to Honoka Hayashi and Vivianne Asseyi. That win sees West Ham move onto 8 points and leaves Bristol City on 5 points. How big of a win for Rehanne Skinners' side could that prove to be come the end of the season?
And finally, Leicester beat Everton 1-0 thanks to a second-half goal from Janice Cayman. The win saw the Foxes leapfrog both Everton and Villa into 7th place, with 13 points. Everton remain on 11 points, just 6 points above Bristol City.
Well, this weekend was one for the away teams, in every single fixture we saw the away teams win apart from Villa. The title race is well and truly on, with Arsenal now having Beth Mead, Vivianne Miedema and now captain Leah Williamson returning could they go all the way? Can anyone stop Man City’s incredible run of form? And will Lauren James keep producing for Chelsea? We will have to wait and see how next week turns out.