Brighton punish Chelsea’s lack of killer instinct
Lacklustre defending punished Chelsea at Brighton, with Aileen Whelan stabbing home late on before Adelina Engman rescued a point at the death. It is turning into a familiar tale, and one that dogged them so often last season: not being clinical enough in the opposition box and not being watertight in their own. It is something Emma Hayes was desperate to improve on but they need to be much better defensively, in particular.
She has a bit of a headache between playing three or four there; it is the same juggling act as we have seen for the past two or three years but it’s not quite clicking into place. They will need to solidify, as these are the fundamentals a team that wants to win titles and play Champions League football. On the positive side, Beth England continues to provide them with a real spark, showing she can lead the line for a team that is not really steamrollering opponents anymore.
It is great to see Brighton progressing, though. When Hope Powell took over she spoke of a seven-year plan; this is the third year and she has brought in some important additions. Their goalkeeper, Megan Walsh, arrived from Yeovil in the summer and is improving every season. They look a feisty, united side and a much improved version of the one we saw last term.
Kelly double underlines her development
Everton look reinvigorated and made it two wins from two against Willie Kirk’s old team, Bristol City. Chloe Kelly has always been an exciting talent and showed it again: her first goal came after great work from Simone Magill, the Northern Ireland striker, and then she bettered it with an unstoppable rifle into the top corner with her right foot. Had it not been for the crossbar, she would have scored a hat-trick.
She left Arsenal to sign for Everton permanently last year and is reaping the rewards; at 21 she is one of a young, career-orientated core of players there who are determined to push on and better themselves. I have seen her develop physically of late: she looks stronger and more agile and more powerful too because she is naturally slight in build. It is exciting to see her coming good at Everton, and exciting to see the club itself getting some direction back. They have now kept successive clean sheets, with their young defence and experienced Finnish goalkeeper Tinja-Riikka Korpela impressing, and look to have the basis to make major progress.
Spurs look ready for extended top-flight stay
It is early days but the signs look good for Spurs after their 1-0 win over Liverpool. Their first top-flight win was a sweet moment for all concerned and suggests they are well up for the task of competing in the most competitive WSL we have seen. They have added seasoned, top-level players such as Gemma Davison, Becky Spencer and Rachel Furness, and look full of confidence. Furness won it for them from the spot on Sunday and looks to be the key player: everything goes through her and if she was to get injured then they would find life tougher. But this is a youthful team that plays on the front foot, with great speed and energy. They need to keep getting points on the board, because the knocks will mount up during the season and they may lack a bit of depth, but they certainly do not look out of place. They attracted a good crowd to the Hive, too, and that was great to see. It gives you a massive lift, as a newly-promoted club, to be well-supported in your first home game. The sun was out, the conditions were perfect for football, and the day could hardly have gone better for them.
Bremer feels like a new signing for Manchester City
Pauline Bremer has had such a tough time of things since joining Manchester City two years ago, with injury denying her any chance to make an impact. But she has come back with a bang, scoring a brace against Lugano in midweek and then both goals in the win at Reading. It could not have come at a better time for City, who will miss Georgia Stanway for the next six weeks with a hamstring problem. Nick Cushing will probably not have expected Bremer to play so much football over the past week, with Lauren Hemp and Ellen White also on the sidelines, she has responded brilliantly; it will do her the world of good confidence-wise and she will be like a new signing for them.
City’s form looks encouraging: they have tended to play the same way and could look predictable, but this season they are showing signs of adaptability and flexibility we have not seen before, making for an element of surprise. Reading showed glimpses and the result is no disaster for them, but the City goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck is making a solid claim to start for both club and country. Overall City were a class above their opponents in terms of formation and setup.
West Ham’s spending spree is paying off
It looks as if West Ham’s rush of summer arrivals is paying dividends. They gave Arsenal a tough game last week and deserved to beat Birmingham for their first win of the season. The scorer was Adriana Leon – a relative veteran of one season – and they could have scored more.
There is plenty of early concern for Birmingham, who are relegation contenders on current form and need to get up and running soon. The evidence so far suggests their 18-year-old goalkeeper, Hanna Hampton, will get plenty of chances to impress and the manager Marta Tejedor does not have an easy job on her hands at the moment. Their next league game, at home to Reading, is already looking important. West Ham, for their part, can look forward to a mouthwatering derby with Spurs on the back of another all-London clash, at Chelsea, in the WSL Cup.
•BT Sport is set for its biggest season of women’s football, with coverage on 16 September of Manchester United v Arsenal on BT Sport 1.