This week I will be taking on and going head-to-head with West Ham fan and blogger, Allie Coker. Allie is an away from home West Ham fan who travels from Manchester across the country week in week out following West Ham women. She owns the blog Adventures in Claret and Blue, which can be read here.
Aston Villa vs Blackburn Rovers
Last time out, Villa came from behind to beat London City Lionesses 2-3 for the second week running. Villa demonstrated a resilience about themselves. This match will be played at Villa Park in one of several matches taking place this weekend at the men’s stadium.
Villa and Durham are the only two sides in the FA WC with a 100% win return after two matches.
At the other end of the table, Blackburn have yet to pick up a point with two defeats from two. They only lost marginally to London Bees 1-0, with a makeshift side after the 1-5 thumping from the opening day of the season. Blackburn had set themselves up to be compact and hard to breakdown with the only goal of the game coming before the break. Blackburn will hope to have Natasha Flint back in the side following injury.
I think Villa will continue their run of form and pick up a third win on the bounce. They will enjoy the occasion playing at Villa Park.
Predicted Score: 2-0 (+1)
Aston Villa 3-1 Blackburn Rovers (+1)
Aston Villa has improved dramatically since last season and if there preseason is anything to go by will be a force to be reckoned with. Blackburn have had slow start and haven’t picked up the pace of the league. However I do think Flint will keep her scoring streak up.
Result: Aston Villa 2-1 Blackburn Rovers
Durham vs Charlton Athletic
Durham have started the season in impressive fashion, racking up 6 points from 6 available and scoring 7 goals already, including the opening day dismantling of Leicester City 1-5 away from home. Last time out, Durham were fortuitous in their victory against Crystal Palace, relying on a dramatic last minute winner to take all 3 points. Palace took the lead through Ashleigh Goddard and a Durham onslaught took place as they went in search of an equaliser that eventually came through Lisa Robertson. Sarah Robson bundled home the ball to steal all 3 points for the Wildcats.
Charlton have had a quiet start to the season. They sat out the first round of fixtures due to the uneven number of teams and drew 0-0 in game-week 2 against Lewes in a tight affair. Both teams had their chances to score but both keepers were on form to keep the score line level.
I think this will be another close game between two very good sides. Either side has the capacity to nick the win but I fancy a score draw to play out.
Predicted Score: 1-1 (0)
Durham 2-0 Charlton Athletic (+3)
Top of the league Durham are already steaming ahead, having given the top two a scare last season. Charlton’s season hasn’t really kicked off yet so the rust may still have set in. so I am saying Durham for the win.
Result: Durham 2-0 Charlton Athletic
Lewes vs Crystal Palace
Lewes started the season on fire with a 5-1 win against Blackburn, which was promptly followed up with a 0-0 draw against Charlton. Lewes will be looking to pick up all 3 points in this match. Welsh international, Emma Jones continued her fine run of goal scoring form by netting in Wales’ 0-6 win over the Faroe Islands during the international break. Lewes will be confident with the quality and squad depth to record a straightforward win.
Palace have bolstered their squad with the transfer deadline day signings of Ella Rutherford and Aoife Hurley. Last time out, Palace narrowly lost 1-2 to Durham and played out a 0-0 against newly promoted Coventry United.
I think this will be a comfortable home win for Lewes who will want to continue their run of good form. Palace will look to be defensively solid and break on the counter and I can see them nicking a goal.
Predicted Score: 3-1 (0)
Lewes 2-1 Crystal Palace (0)
Lewes started off well with a thumping win against Blackburn but petered with a draw against Charlton. Palace will give them a run but the South Coast team will edge it.
Result: Lewes 1-1 Crystal Palace
London Bees vs Coventry United
London Bees have had a mixed start to the season, losing on the opening day of the season to London City Lionesses and bouncing back to win 0-1 away from home to newly promoted Blackburn. Bees will be looking to record back-to-back wins and another clean sheet in front of their fans. Bees will hope that winger, Rosie Kmita has recovered from injury to add extra quality to the line-up after missing the last game before the international break.
Coventry picked up their first point of the season on the opening day with a creditable 0-0 draw away to Crystal Palace. After a week off during Game week 2, Coventry will have had been able to work on their tactics for this game as they go looking for their first 3 points of the season. This will be a tough game for them away from home against a strong Bees side.
I think Bees will win this 2-0, however, they will need to make sure they take their chances. I can see Coventry being compact, defensively sound and look to disrupt Bees’ possession-based playing style. It will be up to the likes of Kmita and Lauren Pickett to break through the defensive lines to work the opening but it may take time for this happen.
Predicted Score: 2-0 (+1)
London Bees 2-0 Coventry United (+1)
The Bees have some brilliant players and have had an even start to their season with one win and one loss. However, the Bees muscle will outmanoeuvre their opposition.
Result: London Bees 2-1 Coventry United
London City Lionesses vs Leicester City
London City Lionesses had an outstanding start to life in the WC on the opening day of the season when they recorded an impressive 0-2 win away from home. The Lionesses will be looking to bounce back with a win following a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Aston Villa. Despite the loss, the Lionesses had demonstrated good passages of play that will have encouraged manager, Chris Phillips – given that Villa have been tipped as promotion favourites. The Lionesses will look to Elizabeth Ejupi to continue with her good goal-scoring form of late and Leanne Cowan to work her magic down the left flank where she has been a standout performer so far this season. With quality and strength in depth, Phillips may look to rotate his squad to ensure game time as the fixtures start to come thick and fast.
Leicester have been woeful this season. Losing two on the bounce and conceding 12 goals in the process. Leicester will need to work on their defensive shape and releasing the ball quicker to the forwards to start moving back up the table. The Leicester squad is highly talented so the recent results have come as a bit of a surprise. I do think that results will start to turn around but not this weekend.
I think the Lionesses will secure their second victory of the season by a 3-0 margin. The attacking threat carried by Ejupi, Gabby Ravenscroft and Lucy Fitzgerald will prove too much for Leicester.
Predicted Score 3-0 (+1)
London City Lionesses 3-0 Leicester City (+1)
Poor Leicester have had a terrible start to their season having had 10 goals put past them in their first 2 games. I honestly think it won’t go much better for them against newcomers London City.
Result: London City Lionesses 3-1 Leicester
Manchester City vs Manchester United
As far as season openers go, this is a huge game to have so early in the season, coupled with the fact that this will be played at the main Etihad Stadium there is the potential for this to be an exciting start to the season. City will want to set down a marker, not just to grab the bragging rights in this Manchester Derby but also the rest of the league by getting 3 points on the board and putting the pressure on to Arsenal and Chelsea. City will be missing the injured Ellen White who will be a big loss, however, City should have the quality to dispatch United.
United start life in the FA WSL with a tough first assignment. Katie Zelem has been appointed captain of Manchester United following the transfer of Alex Greenwood to Lyon. United will look to keep this as tight as possible for as long as they can, however, I don’t see them troubling City too much. The key area for United will be the midfield and how Jackie Groenen settles in. If she is on form then she will definitely cause City some problems.
I do think City will win this and they will grind out a 2-0 win to get their season up and running.
Predicted Score: 2-0 (+1)
Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United (+3)
First Manchester Derby in the WSL era, Its going to be tight defensively as no team is going to want to give the bragging rights to the other team. Georgia Stanway with a last minute worldie.
Result: Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United
Bristol City vs Brighton & Hove Albion
Bristol start the with a view to improving on their game from last season. The game will be played at Ashton Gate in another match that will be hosted by the men’s team stadium. Bristol will be looking to add more goals whilst keeping their defence tight.
Brighton have to get points where they can to stay safe this season. This will be a breakthrough season for young striker, Ellie Brazil who scored 4 goals last season. If Brighton are to remain in the WSL they will need Brazil to be scoring more goals. Brighton will also look to attacking midfielder, Lea Garrec to chip in as well. Centre back, Laura Rafferty will miss this game and the remainder of the season as she recovers from a serious knee injury.
I think this will be a tight and cagey match between two sides who will set themselves up not to lose in the first instance, however, I think Bristol will just do enough to claim all 3 points.
Predicted Score: 1-0 (0)
Bristol City 1-1 Brighton and Hove Albion (+1)
Pretty evenly matched teams for an opening tie, Both teams have strengthened offensively but not so much at the back. Even Stevens at the Gate.
Result: Bristol City 0-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Chelsea vs Tottenham
Chelsea will be kicking off their season at Stamford Bridge in what should be an interesting game against their London rivals, Spurs. Magdalena Eriksson was named as Chelsea’s new captain, taking over from Karen Carney who has retired. Eriksson should have the respect of the Chelsea squad and will look to establish her leadership qualities over the coming season. Chelsea will be without star-striker, Fran Kirby following an injury she picked up in pre-season against the Israeli national team. It will be interesting to see who Emma Hayes picks as her central defensive pairing and whether she shows faith in Millie Bright or tries another alternative. Chelsea will want to make a fast start to the season. This will be a big season for Ramona Bachman who was quiet last year and she will want to serve a timely reminder of the star qualities that she brings.
Spurs come to the Bridge off the back of an impressive promotion campaign last season and it will be interesting to see how quickly their new players bed-down. I do anticipate Spurs causing Chelsea some problems with the likes of Lucy Quinn and Gemma Davison playing against her former club. Former Chelsea ‘keeper, Becky Spencer will also be welcomed back and will get a good reception from the home fans. Spurs will need to contain the Chelsea front-line of new signing, Guro Reiten, Ramona Bachman and Beth England.
I think Chelsea will start the season off with a 2-0 win.
Predicted Score: 2-0 (+1)
Chelsea 3-1 Tottenham (+1)
The Blues have a lot to prove after under performing to their own expectations last season by coming away with no silverware. They certainly won’t want to lose the first North London Derby. However, I reckon Davison will claw one back against her old side.
Result: Chelsea 1-0 Tottenham
Birmingham vs Everton
Birmingham, after a summer of upheaval, will be looking to reassure their fans with an opening day win. Whilst they have lost players there has been reinforcements that have come in. Brianna Visalli will bring a big injection of energy and pace and she will be the key player in this game to unlock the Everton defence. Following a transfer request u-turn, Lucy Staniforth will want to knuckle down and show the Blues fans her commitment and quality. I think Birmingham will bring a high-tempo attacking pressing game to Everton as they look to rack up 3 points.
Everton have to improve on last season. They made a slow start, picking up 4 points from 13 games, which meant that they were playing catch-up for the whole season to avoid relegation. Everton conceded sloppy goals but they have looked to address this by bringing in Esme Morgan in on loan from Manchester City. She will bring a winning mentality and experience to the back line.
I think Birmingham will have enough in their locker to pick up 3 points. I do feel that this will be another tight game with the midfield being the key area. I predict Birmingham to win this by the odd goal in front of their home fans.
Predicted Score: 1-0 (0)
Birmingham 0-0 Everton (0)
Birmingham have suffered a mass exodus this season and are slowly rebuilding. Everton have not bought as wisely as they have this transfer window. I think it will be quite an even, if not, dull match
Result: Birmingham 0-1 Everton
Liverpool vs Reading
Liverpool start the campaign following a summer where they toured American with the men’s side and gained valuable experience together. Liverpool are another side that needs to be improving this season in all areas. Liverpool will be relying on Courtney Sweetman-Kirk to continue with her impressive goal scoring from last term. New signing Mel Lawley will bring further attacking reinforcement out wide and will be key to unlocking a stubborn Reading defence.
Reading come into this season after impressing last campaign. Club legend, Fara Williams continues to impress and she will be key to this Reading side in driving them forwards. Brooke Chaplen and Remi Allen will be looking to build on impressive performances and Chaplen, in particular, will be important in attack.
I think Reading will come up against a much improved Liverpool side who will have worked on their defence. They will be hard to break down and it may be a frustrating game for Reading, however, I fancy them to steal a goal and get the 3 points to kick start their season.
Predicted Score: 0-1 (+3)
Liverpool 0-2 Reading (+1)
Liverpool still have not recovered from their mass exodus last season and I think Reading will capitalise on that.
Result: Liverpool 0-1 Reading
Arsenal vs West Ham
Arsenal will be looking to carry on where they left off last season. With Jordan Nobbs returning from injury and Danielle Van De Donk impressing at the World Cup, Arsenal will be looking to hit the ground running and ensure the rest of the chasing teams are playing catch-up from the first game. Arsenal’s attacking play will be key to this game for them and with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City looking to steal the title, goal difference could be an important factor come the end of the season. Should Arsenal get their attacking play right then I feel they will score a few.
In this fixture last campaign, West Ham could count themselves unlucky to come away without any points as they took the game to Arsenal. This will be a tough first match for the Hammers who will be without with the injured Julia Simic. West Ham are still bedding in their new players to a new look starting XI. Midfielder, Tessel Middag will be crucial if the Hammers are to get a foothold in the middle of the park. Attackers Adriana Leon and Martha Thomas will look to carry the goal-threat for the East London side.
I think this will be a routine victory for Arsenal but I wouldn’t discount West Ham from stealing a goal.
Predicted Score: 4-1 (+1)
Arsenal 2-2 West Ham (0)
My heart says West Ham will win, my head says Arsenal so lets call it a tie and the whole thing off.
Result: Arsenal 2-1 West Ham