WSL (162)

Alessia Russo scored the only goal to hand Arsenal a 1-0 win over Tottenham in the north London derby in front of another sold out crowd.

The Gunners sold out the Emirates Stadium for a second straight game as 60,050 watched the hosts keep the pressure on in the Women’s Super League title battle.

Russo provided the winning moment four minutes after the break, lashing home from six yards after being set up by England team-mate Beth Mead.

Manchester United lost further ground on the top three as they were held to a 1-1 draw at West Ham.

Rachel Williams gave the visitors a fourth-minute lead with her 50th WSL goal.

But Viviane Asseyi equalised five minutes from time to leave Marc Skinner’s side nine points behind third-placed Arsenal.

Emma Koivisto scored twice as Liverpool beat Aston Villa 4-1.

Grace Fisk’s deflected strike in the 19th minute gave Liverpool a lead and Sophie Roman Haug added a second before Sarah Mayling pulled one back from the penalty spot.

Koivisto made it 3-1 on the hour mark and added a fourth with eight minutes left as the Reds moved level on points with Manchester United.

Brighton beat rock-bottom Bristol City 7-3 to move eight points clear of the relegation spot.

Elisabeth Terland opened the scoring in the 20th minute and Pauline Bremer added another four minutes later to give the away side a 2-0 lead heading into the break.

City got on the scoresheet through Megan Connolly but Terland’s second of the day combined with Tatiana Pinto’s strike put Brighton 4-1 up.

Two goals in three minutes from Brooke Aspin and Amalie Thestrup brought Bristol City right back into the contest.

But any hopes of a sensational comeback were wiped out when Madison Haley struck in the 89th minute before Vicky Losada and Katie Robinson added further goals in stoppage time.

Liverpool boosted their hopes of a top-four finish in the WSL with a 4-1 win at Aston Villa.

Goals from Grace Fisk and Sophie Roman Haug put the Reds in control before Sarah Mayling pulled one back from the penalty spot.

But defender Emma Koivisto struck twice in the second half to secure three points for Matt Beard’s side.

Liverpool took the lead after Noelle Maritz gave away a free-kick near the penalty box.

Fuka Nagano played the ball across the face of goal and Fisk’s deflected strike fooled Villa keeper Daphne van Domselaar and found the back of the net.

Villa almost hit straight back but Kenza Dali’s shot was held by Rachael Laws.

Liverpool doubled their lead when Nagano’s cross was flicked on for Haug to head home.

Villa were gifted a route back into the match when Kirsty Hanson was brought down by Gemma Bonner in the area box and Mayling converted the spot-kick.

But Koivisto restored the two-goal advantage with a fine finish at the far post after Jasmine Matthews crossed into the box.

And the Finland international struck again with a looping header over Van Domselaar to wrap up the victory.

Manchester City defeated Everton 2-1 to climb to the top of the Women’s Super League table.

City picked up where they left off in their first match since defeating Chelsea last month, with goals from Khadija Shaw (15th) and Lauren Hemp (55th) taking them three points clear of Emma Hayes’ side, who play Leicester on Sunday.

It is now 12 victories in a row in all competitions for Gareth Taylor’s City, who were pegged back by a fine strike from Hanna Bennison in the 60th minute but deserved the three points.

City, who have won all 16 of their league games against the Merseyside team, were behind Chelsea only on goals scored at the top of the table heading into the clash at the Joie Stadium. They were well fired up for this game and dominated from beginning to end against Brian Sorensen's team.

City enjoyed the majority of early possession but had a hard time getting time and space in dangerous areas. After a few tame efforts, Everton made it easy for the home team when Justine Vanhaevermaet crumbled under pressure and played a short pass inside the box that went directly to Shaw, who suddenly had an abundance of time and space to smash in the opener.

The goal gave the in-form hosts a massive boost as they looked even more dangerous from then on, with Chloe Kelly and Lauren Hemp sending dangerous balls into the box that Shaw was unable to connect with. By half-time, 1-0 seemed a low score considering City had 13 shots throughout the first 45 minutes.

Everton, meanwhile, were gifted one chance late in the half when goalkeeper Khiara Keating played the ball straight to Rikke Madsen, but her weak shot was straight back at the youngster.

After Shaw missed a great opportunity by heading over the bar, it was Hemp who doubled City's lead, combining with Coombs in the middle of the pitch before driving forward and sending a long-range effort rolling into the bottom corner.

Everton were not down and out, though, as City suddenly looked flustered at the back and gave the ball away, resulting in Hanna Bennison smashing in a beauty of a goal from outside the box. Both teams pushed on for another goal, but neither could find a way past their opponents' goalkeeper.

Arsenal forward Vivianne Miedema has suffered another injury setback after head coach Jonas Eidevall revealed she requires knee surgery.

The 27-year-old Netherlands international missed almost 10 months last year following an ACL injury suffered in December 2022.

She has made just four Women’s Super League appearances since returning to action in October and now faces “several weeks” back on the sidelines.

“She requires a minor knee surgery and that is going to have her off the pitch for several weeks,” Eidevall said.

“We will have an update on that after the surgery and when we see how she is progressing.”

Miedema had played for the Dutch in the recent international break but Eidevall played down any suggestions of a club versus country row as a result.

“We have good communication with all the national teams that we work with,” he added.

“But we also have to have a lot of respect for the autonomy in the decision-making and the Netherlands were playing some really, really important games for them – both for a Nations League trophy and maybe, more importantly, for Olympic qualification.

“They also need to take the decisions that are best for them. What is important in all these conversations is that I always think that we put the player in the forefront and we are trying to find solutions that are the best for the player, and we need to cooperate.

“She doesn’t need the surgery because of those 45 minutes she played against Spain. She would have needed the surgery anyway for it.

“It was nothing that the Dutch team did that complicated this here or made the situation worse. It was a situation that needed to be fixed anyway.”

Arsenal winger Katie McCabe hopes football’s governing bodies will heed calls to solve a calendar congestion issue she sees as potentially detrimental to players and fans.

The Gunners have already sold more than 58,000 tickets for Sunday’s north London derby, two weeks after selling 60,160 for a first-time Women’s Super League sell-out at the Emirates Stadium before the international break.

But in order for teams to deliver an on-pitch product worthy of those legions, stressed the Republic of Ireland captain, players need adequate time to allow their bodies to recover from the increasingly demanding nature of the elite women’s game.

She told the PA news agency: “I think for us to be playing at our best and to be giving those record crowds good games to watch we need to be fresh.

“With the FIFA window, and obviously the Euro qualifiers window, it’s incredible how they’ve moved an international camp in the middle of summer and thinking that was a good idea.

“It’s difficult. Obviously we are footballers, we want to be able to play the games, but we also want to feel that freshness going into it as well. It’s really difficult for us, but we obviously need to keep going.

“Unfortunately it’s not in our power as players, we want the governing bodies to listen to us and to make sure there’s change with that as well, because it’s not going to be solved in the way it’s being solved right now.”

McCabe’s sentiments echo those of Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Maheta Molango, who at a summit earlier this week pointed to what he felt was a depleted Manchester City side for last season’s men’s Champions League final, saying: “For us, we’ve reached a stage where it is not just about the health of the player, it is (also) about us killing the product.”

The growing women’s game faces similar scheduling challenges and player welfare concerns, particularly for athletes representing national teams alongside top sides like Arsenal, who currently sit third in the WSL and three points behind both Chelsea and Manchester City.

McCabe, like so many in her squad, has just returned from international duty to an injury-depleted Gunners side not just competing for the title but still alive in the Continental Tyres League Cup, which will crown a winner at the end of this month.

Euro 2025 qualifiers begin in April before the WSL season concludes on May 18, preceded by the FA Cup final and followed by the Champions League decider the following weekend – with league leaders Chelsea still in contention for a quadruple.

The second batch of European qualifiers are scheduled for the end of May, followed by more in mid-July – and though the next WSL season does not start until September 21, whoever finishes third this campaign will be in Champions League action during the first week of that month.

While McCabe is leaving what she cannot control to the powers that be, she and her team-mates have embraced wearable GPS-tracking technology to help with injury prevention, monitor fitness and performance and better inform decisions made by strength and conditioning coaches.

She said: “We’re quite competitive, so for us we’re always interested in the nitty-gritty things. I know when I’ve hit certain metrics in a game, I feel like I’ve had a good game, and we’re able to look at numbers throughout the week so we’re not underloaded or overloaded going into games.

“We just concentrate on what we can control and take each game as it comes. Teams are taking points off everybody, so let’s start again on Sunday.”

Katie McCabe is an ambassador and investor for the world’s leading GPS performance tracker, STATSports.

Marc Skinner hopes Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s investment in Manchester United provides a “springboard” for success for the women’s team.

Ratcliffe last week completed a deal to purchase a 27.7 per cent stake in United that sees his Ineos company take control of football operations at the club.

United’s women’s side, relaunched in 2018 and managed by Skinner since 2021, achieved best finishes of runners-up in the Women’s Super League and FA Cup last term. They currently sit fourth in the WSL, 10 points adrift of leaders Chelsea.

Skinner told a press conference on Friday: “We (he and Ratcliffe) have not managed to meet yet, I know it’s on the horizon very soon.

“But we have our constant kind of feed through our bosses anyway in terms of kind of how we want to go forwards, what’s going to work and there’s a lot to do.

“I see it as a real positive move. I think if you know me as a character, my energy is full in, I’m all in so with my energy, coupled with the fantastic movement of the Ineos investment, I think it’s a real positive moment.

“We have to capitalise on that, we’re going to try to do that, we’re going to put all our behaviours in place for that. It’s hopefully a springboard for everybody to find the success that everybody wants for Man United.”

Ratcliffe has spoken about the possibility of the club building a new stadium, with Old Trafford becoming the regular home for the women’s and academy teams.

Asked about that, Skinner said: “I’m sure that’s a little bit away.

“We love playing at Leigh Sports Village, it’s become a fortress but obviously it’s a special occasion when you play at Old Trafford.

“We’re excited about any of the plans that come. It feels like a real positive movement. Whatever the plans may be, we have to continue to align our positive energy towards that movement. That’s our aim.

“If it comes down the line and that’s what happens, then I’m sure there will be some fantastic games at the stadium.”

Skinner was speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s WSL trip to West Ham.

Women’s Super League and Championship players will benefit from access to designated female health representatives as part of a new initiative heralded by England boss Sarina Wiegman.

An existing member of staff at each of the 24 clubs will be appointed and receive specialised training to “establish leadership and accountability for embedded and sustainable support of female player health.” says the Football Association.

The FA have also rolled out a further online course which they claim is the “first ever national governing body-mandated training on female-specific health and plan to release new guidelines around pregnancy and postnatal care, menstrual cycle health and pelvic health in 2024.”

Wiegman, speaking in Spain ahead of the Lionesses’ international friendly against Italy on Tuesday, said: “We’re really happy to see that. It’s really good, (and) it’s also very necessary.

“It has been said all the time, there needs to be more research about women in sport and more support too, and this is another step in the right direction in that case.

“I think it’s really good and we have to keep doing research, which will take time with the outcomes of course, but keep supporting it too to make it the best for women’s sport and keep growing the game also.”

England midfielder Keira Walsh, who plays club football with Barcelona, hoped the move would inspire other domestic leagues to take similar action.

She said: “It’s really important and I think, because I play in the Spanish league now, seeing where the FA and the WSL is going and kind of being at the forefront and leading on that is really nice to see.

“Ultimately, I think that the support the FA are showing for women athletes is really good, and hopefully it will continue that way.”

The programme is a partnership with UK-based women’s sport health organisation The Well HQ, whose collaboration with the leagues led to the commissioning of a report entitled ‘The State of Play Project’, which gathered insights from players and support staff in the professional game from 101 player surveys, 34 player interviews, 19 support staff surveys and 41 support staff interviews.

It also follows findings from the independent review into women’s football, led by ex-England international Karen Carney and released last July, that noted the inquiry “received substantial evidence around the gap in research on support for female athletes, both physically and psychologically, in a professional football environment”, highlighting a 2021 study in Women’s Sport and activity journal noting that just six per cent of sport exercise and science research involves only women.

Carney’s review demanded those gaps  “Must be addressed urgently. It is not acceptable that players are exposed to this additional level of risk relating to their physical health, and the game needs to do better to understand why this is the case.

“Failure to address this issue will undermine the credibility and quality of the sport going forward.”

The inquiry, whose  10 recommendations were approved by the government in December, also “identified the need to equip the women’s game workforce with the knowledge and skills to better understand female-specific health issues” and called on the FA to “to continue investing in this research, and to create a centrally funded unit to prioritise the development of even more insight in this space.”

Chelsea striker Mia Fishel will be out for a significant period after sustaining an ACL injury while on international duty with the United States.

The 22-year-old is the second Blues player to pick up such an injury this year after striker Sam Kerr was ruled out in January.

Fishel signed from Mexican side Tigres in the summer and has scored once in 10 Women’s Super League appearances this season.

In a statement the club said: “Mia will be assessed by a specialist in the coming days and will then begin her rehabilitation with the club’s medical team at Cobham.

“Everyone at Chelsea would like to wish Mia the very best for her recovery.”

Emma Hayes’ defending WSL champions were beaten 1-0 by Manchester City on Friday and now lead the table only on goals scored.

Leicester came from behind to heap more misery on Women’s Super League bottom side Bristol City with a 5-2 win at the King Power Stadium.

Ffion Morgan put the Robins in front in the 20th minute with a long-range effort after she capitalised on a mistake from Foxes goalkeeper Lize Kop.

Leicester were level through Japan international Nicole Momiki in the 33rd minute and then Saori Takarada bundled in a second during first-half stoppage time.

Bristol City equalised four minutes after the restart through Denmark forward Amalie Thestrup, her eighth WSL goal of the season.

Janice Cayman, though, had the hosts back in front after 55 minutes before Jutta Rantala drove in a fourth and 16-year-old Denny Draper, on as a substitute, stabbed home a fifth in stoppage time for her first senior goal.

Bristol City remain five points adrift at the bottom, while Leicester sit seventh.

Liverpool captain Ceri Holland scored and was later sent off as her side closed out a 1-0 win over strugglers Brighton at Broadfield Stadium.

Holland made the breakthrough eight minutes after the interval when she capitalised on a sloppy clearance by Brighton goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley.

The Reds skipper, though, was dismissed deep into stoppage time for a second yellow card after a poor foul on Julia Zigiotti, but Liverpool closed out a first win of 2024.

Liverpool remain fifth in the table, now within two points of Manchester United, while interim Brighton head coach Mikey Harris is still searching for his first WSL win.

Everton eased their own relegation worries after beating West Ham 2-0 for a first home win of the season.

Italy forward Martina Piemonte, on as a substitute, broke the deadlock when she glanced in a free-kick in the 83rd minute.

Aurora Galli wrapped up the points with a second for the Toffees just three minutes later with an angled effort into the top corner.

Jordan Nobbs’ fine second-half goal helped Aston Villa beat Tottenham 2-1 at Brisbane Road.

Adriana Leon, filling in for the suspended Rachel Daly, put the visitors in front after 23 minutes, but Spurs defender Amy James-Turner headed in an equaliser just before the break.

Nobbs, though, settled matters when she drilled the ball into the top corner from the edge of the penalty area following a corner.

Arsenal tightened their grip on a return to the Champions League with a 3-1 victory over Manchester United in front of a Women’s Super League record sell-out at the Emirates.

The Gunners, who sold 60,160 tickets for the lunchtime contest, were gifted an early goal when Katie McCabe’s corner deflected in off Geyse.

Another error allowed Cloe Lacasse to nod in a second before Kim Little’s spot-kick made it three before the break.

Lucia Garcia clawed one back in stoppage time but it was little consolation for fourth-placed United, now seven points adrift of qualifying for a second European campaign with just eight games remaining.

Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall made six changes, dropping forward Alessia Russo to the bench while her England team-mate Leah Williamson was absent due to what the club described as a “minor hamstring injury” less than a month after returning from the anterior cruciate injury that led to a nine-month spell on the sidelines.

It was a nervy start for the hosts, who conceded a free-kick in the fourth minute, spilled by Arsenal goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo, before the Gunners got out of danger, winning their first corner in the seventh minute but seeing it punched away by England international Mary Earps.

However, Arsenal went ahead after 10 minutes when their second corner, taken by McCabe, first deflected off the unfortunate Geyse inside the six-yard box and then rolled through the legs of a helpless Maya Le Tissier and over the line.

Marc Skinner’s side struggled to get anything started in reply, giving away a free-kick in a dangerous position that Beth Mead blasted well wide after going directly for goal, while United could not take advantage of a corner after Ella Toone’s sharp effort took a deflection off Steph Catley.

The Gunners’ second in the 35th minute initially looked to be a missed chance when Victoria Pelova picked out Stina Blackstenius in front of the United goal but her squared pass skipped past the Sweden international towards Katie Zelem, who attempted to hook clear.

Instead, the United captain lofted the ball in the direction of Lacasse, who happily headed home her third league goal, three days after bagging a brace in their Conti Cup win over London City.

Things went from bad to worse for the visitors when Gemma Evans brought down Mead and Little coolly converted, sending Earps the wrong way with a low finish.

Nikita Parris missed an opportunity to claw a goal back after the restart, directing a pair of headers wide, before the Gunners responded, Blackstenius once again taking advantage of some loose defending to intercept Hannah Blundell’s pass back to Earps, who managed to parry away the attempt.

Mead was denied by the post twice in quick succession, her first attempt a rocket from the right that would have likely beaten Earps but instead clipped the inside of the woodwork before bouncing out.

D’Angelo comfortably saved Parris’ effort at the near post before surviving a scramble, with Catley then replaced by Caitlin Foord as both bosses made changes.

Just as it appeared the hosts would wrap up a clean sheet, D’Angelo came off her line to meet a late United corner but Garcia pounced in the sixth minute of added time.

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