Morgan confirms WSL’s star status
The WSL has welcomed a dizzying array of talent in recent weeks, with Spurs’ addition of Alex Morgan the icing on the cake. I want to emphasise just how much it means to women’s football in England for players like Morgan, Tobin Heath, Christen Press, Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis to have come over from the US. These women are superstars there, inside and outside the sport. That is partly because their brilliant national team gets such huge coverage, but mainly because they are such outstanding talents. The list of names is one I could never have imagined playing here, and when you add Pernille Harder then things look even better. She chose Chelsea when she could have gone anywhere, and it shows how top footballers view the WSL. It is now the best league in the world
Harder points way for Chelsea’s winning machine
Chelsea are playing for European supremacy, and Harder’s arrival was further evidence. She was one of nine different goalscorers in their demolition of Bristol City and it was some way to banish any disappointment from the draw with Manchester United, probably the highest-quality WSL match I have seen. Chelsea have unparalleled depth, the WSL player of the year Beth England fighting for time up top alongside the Australia captain Sam Kerr and a raft of sparkling options available to Emma Hayes. This team could sweep all before them but, make no mistake, they are prioritising the Champions League.
Prolific Roord can help Arsenal’s title push
Arsenal have been scintillating in their first two games and while a 9-1 win over West Ham – who were hindered by Gilly Flaherty’s red card – might not have made pretty reading, for everyone else it was further evidence of their firepower. Jill Roord has now scored hat-tricks in consecutive games and it is fascinating to see the way she has stepped up. Last season she brought much with her link-up play and driving through the middle, and if she becomes prolific as well then she will be a marvellous proposition. Alongside Roord, the suave orchestrating of Kim Little and devastating finishing of Vivianne Miedema were a taste of things to come.
A note about the scorelines. It’s important to remember this is only the third WSL season which has been fully professional, and you will see these disparities as big stars arrive. It will take time but things are going in the right direction and we are already seeing a clutch of teams who are capable of taking points from the best.
Stuttering City still searching for style
Brighton are one of those, as they showed in a battling draw at Manchester City. Perhaps we should not be surprised, because Hope Powell always ensures her players are well organised and know their roles. That does not seem the case at City, though, and their performance raised alarm bells. Perhaps recent arrivals are just taking time to gel, but they have stuttered so far and do not appear to have an established style of play. Gareth Taylor has a tough act to follow after Nick Cushing’s departure and there is always the risk of changing too much, too soon. To be fair it may be that Taylor’s philosophies need time to implement, and City will only improve as Lucy Bronze and Alex Greenwood settle in.
Could Manchester United break into top three?
United are making huge strides to break that top three of Chelsea, Arsenal and City. They won comfortably at a young, but spirited, Birmingham and it will be fascinating to see how Heath and Press add to an already thriving attacking line. In contrast to City you can already see a really clear, defined style and it is a testament to the coaching of Casey Stoney and her staff. Katie Zelem and Ella Toone, who both scored on Sunday, are still young but have plenty of top-level experience and it is shining through
Everton’s transformation gathers pace
Everton’s drive towards Champions League contention is no joke. Willie Kirk wants to see them on the highest stage and now has the players to make that move. They have two wins from two after Izzy Christiansen gave them the edge against Spurs, and have players who can make an impact all over the pitch. I feel proud of the way the club has developed and changed since I played there. Back then we didn’t even have digs for players to live in. But they have shown real vision and, with the France forward Valérie Gauvin also starting well, look capable of troubling anyone. For Spurs it is a case of ‘watch this space’ until Morgan makes her debut.
Villa may need to get more streetwise
Aston Villa have been a little naive in their first couple of games. They ripped through the Championship, playing out well from the back, but that was their downfall against Manchester City on the opening day and again at times in their defeat to Reading. Their open style leaves them vulnerable to mistakes, even though Lisa Weiss in goal makes a big difference, and they will need to find a way to mix things up a little.
BT Sport is set for its biggest season of women’s football, with at least 22 live Barclays FA WSL matches this season plus action from the FA Women’s Continental League Cup and Women’s FA Cup.