WSL Round-Up: Manchester Derby Provides Fireworks While Arsenal Stay Unbeaten

Arsenal continue to set the pace at the top with five wins from five
11:56, 11 Oct 2021

A pulsating Manchester Derby featuring four goals and a red card, a wondergoal from Frida Maanum as Arsenal remain unbeaten and a first win for Reading - it is fair to say the Women’s Super League certainly delivered this weekend. 

The highly-anticipated Manchester derby lived up to expectations as the two sides played out an exciting 2-2 draw. In a game that they had to win to keep their title hopes alive, Manchester City were down to 10 after forward Georgia Stanway was shown a straight red card for a dangerously high challenge on Leah Galton. 

The tackle was a bad one, but the abuse she received on social media after the game was abhorrent. However, Gareth Taylor’s side were able to take the lead with one less player as Khadija Shaw put them ahead with a smart header.

Heading into the later stages Manchester United turned the game on its head as Lucy Staniforth and Alessia Russo scored within minutes of each other to put Marc Skinner’s side in front, but Ellen White was on hand at the other end to rescue a point for City. The draw was a positive result for Taylor given the circumstances, but it also highlights how far the club have fallen this season. With an 11-point gap between them and leaders Arsenal, their title challenge already looks to be over. 

Down in London, Arsenal were able to bounce back from their heavy defeat against Barcelona in the Champions League in midweek by comfortably beating Everton 3-0 to maintain their perfect start to the league season. Maanum scored a sensational long-range effort that nestled in the top-left corner to cap off the stunning victory as Jonas Eidevall continued his bright start in the Arsenal hot seat. His side sit atop the league table with the maximum 15 points available, three ahead of their title rivals Chelsea.

Meanwhile Emma Hayes’ side made sure they kept up with their winning run to stay within reach of Arsenal as they confined Leicester City to their fifth defeat of the season, with the Foxes still on the hunt for their first points of the campaign. Hayes showcased her tactical intelligence once again as her side were able to seal the victory late on, with substitute Pernille Harder opening the scoring before Fran Kirby doubled the Blues’ lead in the dying seconds. 

Elsewhere, Brighton continued their impressive start to the season by inflicting a first defeat upon Tottenham Hotspur in a 2-1 scoreline which saw Spurs’ Rachel Williams sent off late on. Rehanne Skinner will be disappointed with her side's performance as they lost ground on north London rivals Arsenal, and having scored just seven goals in five matches, they will need to improve in front of goal to seriously challenge the top two. 

After a tough start to 2021-22, Reading were able to get off the mark with a 3-0 victory over Carla Ward’s Aston Villa, with Amalie Eikeland and Rachel Rowe scoring within the first 20 minutes. The other team to get their first point on the board was Scott Booth’s Birmingham City, who held West Ham United to a 1-1 draw as former Blues striker Claudia Walker scored against her previous employers before Louise Quinn pulled her side level.

But Arsenal end the weekend top, and Hayes’ Chelsea are beginning to gain momentum in second. The title race is well and truly on! 

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