Barclays FAWSL Game Week Two Preview
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Barclays FAWSL Game Week Two Preview

After a week which saw record attendances, the FAWSL returns for its second of the season

amillington
Adam Millington

Reading vs Manchester City

After thrashing FF Lugano on Thursday in the Champions League in which they netted seven away from home in Switzerland, Manchester City travel down to London to take on Reading in an early kick-off. The little turnaround that the blues have could prove to be a blessing for Reading and they can capitalise on that.

Both sides found a win in their first match of the season, with the Royals beating Liverpool 1-0 thanks to a stunning free-kick from football veteran Fara Williams in the first half, leaving Anke Preuß with no chance to save.

City picked up four points in the fixtures between the two last season, most recently with a 4-3 win away from home. Nikita Parris scored a hat trick in that game but after leaving City, the club will not be able to rely on her. Lauren Hemp and Ellen White are both injured, Georgia Stanway was forced off against Lugano and she will be a doubt for the match.

Prior to the Royals' first home match of the season, Kelly Chambers spoke to readingfc.co.uk about the influx of interest to the game:

On the back of the World Cup, you can see that there is a buzz around the women’s game right now. And hopefully that will turn into bums on seats at games, and getting our fans into the stadium to see the quality that there is in the WSL.

Everton vs Bristol City

The Toffees play host to Bristol in their first home match of the FAWSL season. In their opener, Birmingham captain Kerys Harrop turned the ball into her own net to gift Everton a 1-0 win after the match. 

Bristol drew 0-0 with Brighton & Hove Albion in front of over 3000 fans at Ashton Gate last weekend, unable to break the deadlock for all of the 90 minutes. Ebony Salmon impressed for the Vixens, with the England youth international troubling Brighton's defence on a number of occasions, and coming close to scoring.

Bristol found all three points in both of the matches between the two last year, running out 3-0 victors in the first away from home. The goalscorers from that match have both departed the Vixens, and they may suffer from a lack of firepower.

Everton have made a number of signings over the summer and could be stronger than last year. It will be a hard-fought affair between the two sides who will each be looking for a mid-table finish.

Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool

This week Liverpool travel to the capital to take on newly-promoted Tottenham Hotspur at The Hive Stadium, kick-off at 14:00 GMT on Sunday.

Both sides suffered narrow 1-0 defeats on the opening weekend, with the Reds being undone by a fantastic Fara Williams free-kick at Prenton Park and Tottenham losing to a 25-yard strike from Beth England at Stamford Bridge.

Karen Hills and Vicky Jepson alike would’ve taken large positives from their previous fixtures, both creating some good chances and playing out a tightly fought game.

But, with Tottenham eager to maintain their status in the top flight and Liverpool challenged with finishing higher in the ranks this season, both managers will want to see an improved display and earn their first WSL win of the 19/20 campaign.

It will be unknown territory for both sides as they face each other for the first time, but it’s expected to be another tight affair - Liverpool boasting all the experience, but Spurs with a home advantage

Brighton and Hove Albion vs Chelsea

Brighton host Chelsea at the People’s Pension Stadium this weekend as the WSL looks to build on a successful opening weekend. Kick off is at 14:00 GMT on Sunday.

Chelsea started off their season right last week with a 1-0 home victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge, with Beth England scoring the only goal of the game from 25-yards on four minutes. Brighton, on the other hand, played out a stalemate at Ashton Gate as Bristol City followed suit and hosted their opening game where the men’s team play, drawing in a crowd of 3,041. Sophie Baggaley’s first-half penalty save denied Victoria Williams the first goal of the season, as well as Brighton walking away with all three points.

The Seagull’s face a much tougher test this weekend as they welcome Emma Hayes’ star-studded Chelsea side and are tasked with keeping England quiet, who will be eager to gain an early lead in the race for top goalscorer this season.

The striker netted 12 times in the WSL last season and will be looking to better that tally this time around. But, Brighton boss Hope Powell has urged her side to remain fearless when facing the best and speaking brightonandhovealbion.com, said:

“You’ve got nothing to lose and more to gain and they’re the messages we keep reiterating to the players.

“The girls are relishing the opportunity to test themselves against the best, and why not? “It’s about being positive and taking a chance to showcase your own talents.”

West Ham United vs Birmingham City

After falling 2-1 away from home to fellow London side Arsenal last weekend, West Ham host Birmingham City in their first home tie of the FAWSL. Martha Thomas’ exquisite header pulled one back for the hammers in the second half after Jill Roord and Beth Mead put them behind. New signing and French international Kenza Dali came close on a number of occasions to equalling the scoring, but was denied by the woodwork 

The blues also lost their first, but this time their own captain converted the ball into the back of the net from a cross from Everton to score the only goal of the match.

Birmingham completed the Super League Double over the hammers last season, and the London side’s boss - Matt Beard has lost five of his past 10 managerial WSL matches vs Birmingham.

West Ham haven’t lost three in a row since January,  and none of the blues’ last fifteen matches have ended level so the stats show that it should be a good match.

However, this year’s Birmingham side has changed a lot, and fans are yet to see just how powerful they are to the one that finished so well in the FAWSL last year.

Manchester United vs Arsenal

In what looks one of the most attractive clashes of this week, and the one that culminates the action, title holders Arsenal take on newly promoted Manchester United at Leigh Sports Village.

United fell in the first Manchester Derby in the WSL last weekend in front of a record-breaking crowd at the Etihad Stadium. They were strong in their first match, they came close to scoring early on - only being denied by an exquisite stop from Ellie Roebuck. Dutch international Jackie Groenen came close in the second half after breaking through City’s defence but she got the ball trapped under her feet.

It will be the first League meeting between the two, although they did play in the Continental Cup last season - where the Gunners ran out 2-1 victors.

Manchester United’s Manager, Casey Stoney, played more Women’s Super League Matches for Arsenal in her career than she did for any other club.

Arsenal scored the most goals of any team in the first week of the league (two), and that could aid them in their effort in Manchester.

Contributors:

Brighton vs Chelsea & Tottenham vs Liverpool - Hannah Pinnock

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