We aren’t sure if it is the fact it is an international break, the fact that the coverage has been utterly superb, or the fact that interest in the Women’s Super League is at an all-time high, but already this weekend it has felt like more eyeballs than ever before are on the WSL. A bigger audience often means more pressure for the players, and if Manchester City are to win the title for the first time since 2016, their players are gong to have to thrive under this level of scrutiny.
If their performance in the 4-0 hammering of Everton at Goodison Park is anything to go by, then Gareth Taylor’s side look in excellent shape to take the title fight right to the wire, as they did last term. They finished just two points short of champions Chelsea last season but in this opening day match against an Everton side that some fans expected to challenge the elite top three this term, they looked better than ever.
Taylor had his side playing fast flowing football and in front of goal, they had the same ruthlessness that we saw last term. This is a side who were incredibly unfortunate not to win the league as they lost just once across their 22 league matches, but ultimately it was the four points Emma Hayes’ side picked up against them that cost them the title. They are expected to win against every other side they face this season, and although Arsenal do look like a stronger force, it will be those clashes that determine where the title ends up this term.
This performance, and a +4 goal difference, will delight the Man City staff however. Steph Houghton was on top form and whipped in a delightful free-kick to round off proceedings, her tenth in total in WSL history from the dead ball specialist. Most importantly for City however, two of their summer signings hit the ground running with goals, as they fitted in seamlessly with the system.
Vicky Losada, who joined from Barcelona, opened the scoring with a belting side-footed finish that went in off the upright, while Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw, who hit 31 in 33 for Bordeaux, showed her goal scoring touch with a close range finish.
Even though City were strong last season, these investments look to have made them an even more dangerous outfit. Janine Beckie, the Canadian star, also looks like she has taken her game up a level over the summer, as she got on the scoresheet and constantly caused the Everton defence issues throughout the match. In the games that aren’t quite as comfortable as this one turned out to be, it will be these top level players who will make the difference.
City drew four and lost one on their way to a second place finish last term. With Hayes’ Chelsea looking strong as they prepare for a blockbuster clash against Arsenal at the Emirates tomorrow, it seems like another near-perfect season will be needed for the Citizens to overhaul their London title challengers. Going undefeated is practically the only way to guarantee the title, and City have made the perfect start on Merseyside.