This weekend in the WSL will see a North London derby which will have a big impact on the title race. Arsenal are currently the WSL’s perfect team, having won six out of six in the league and made a strong start to their Champions League group, but Rehanne Skinner’s Tottenham will be desperate to make this derby day a memorable one.
Since coming into the job 12 months ago having been assistant manager with England, the manager has steadily improved this Tottenham side. They finished eighth last term which was seen as a severe underperformance and lost 6-1 and 3-0 to Arsenal in both fixtures last term, but this season they seem a much more solid outfit which currently sees them sat in third, just five points off the Gunners.
The Tottenham squad was not expected to go close to the title, and they have struggled for goals this season, having found the net just eight times in their six matches so far, with Rachel Williams and Kit Graham both top scoring with two. But it has been their defence that has won them matches, and never say die spirit that has seen them mix it with the big boys.
They’ve only conceded four times in the league so far this season and clean sheets against the likes of Birmingham, Leicester and Reading have allowed them to build a solid platform so far. However, their greatest result came away at Manchester City, where a late handball went unpunished and gave Spurs a 2-1 win. Their never-say-die spirit was also on show as they nicked a point off an improving Manchester United side in the 95th minute as defender Ria Percival bagged a late goal, but Arsenal provide their biggest test so far.
We are running out of superlatives to describe this wonderful Gunners side that Jonas Eidevall has put together and they seem to be a class above their North London rivals on paper. Kim Little is banging goals in for fun, and with Vivienne Miedema and Beth Mead also in good goalscoring form it is likely that they could tear through this Tottenham team on Saturday.
Eidevall’s team have scored 23 goals in six league matches and are utterly dominant in most matches they play this term. If Spurs are proud of their defence, then Arsenal should be beaming with Leah Williamson and Katie McCabe contributing to a team that have conceded just two this term.
This is a side only comparable to Chelsea in England this season. Emma Hayes and her staff will be desperate to capitalise on an Arsenal slip up over the course of the season and even though there should be a feisty atmosphere for the match being shown live on BBC One on Saturday lunchtime - The Gunners should be far too strong for their rivals.
Spurs will, as they have so far this season, look to stay in the game for as long as possible and feed off the home crowd, but with attacking talent on show for those in red, that will likely prove impossible. A derby can produce special moments and unexpected results, but Eidevall will be disappointed with anything less than another three points here.
One thing the WSL must be praised for is lining up some of their major fixtures with the men’s international break, therefore leading to more exposure and television coverage. Along with this tie on BBC, Chelsea vs Manchester City will be shown on Sky Sports in what should be a bumper weekend of viewing figures for the WSL.
However, it does feel like a slightly missed opportunity that this match is taking place at The Hive rather than the Tottenham Hotspur stadium, given the interest these two teams could generate. No matter what the location is, on the pitch we should be treated to another masterclass from those in red - but Tottenham would love nothing more than to end their rivals’ perfect start.