Gameweek 4

This week I will be taking on and going head-to-head with Rich Cleverley. Rich is a fellow women’s football fan and enthusiast who owns the Twitter account @FairerPlay and Instagram account @instafairerplay. Rich is also sponsoring London Bees’ forward, Rosie Kmita this season.

Everton vs Bristol City

Last gameweek, Everton picked up a vital, even at this stage of the season, win against Birmingham City after a Kerys Harrop own goal. Bristol City played out 0-0 draw against a very plucky Brighton side with the game being hosted at Ashton Gate.

Everton conceded the lion’s share of possession of the ball to Birmingham (64%) who could not find a way through Everton’s defence. Bristol had the heroics of Sophie Baggaley to thank as she denied Brighton from the spot to pick up their first point of the season. Bristol created fewer chances with only 2 shots on target throughout the whole 90 minutes.

I think chances will be few and far between in this game with the possibility of just one goal in it, however, I wouldn’t be surprised if the game finished goalless. I think the onus will be on Bristol, as the away side, to dictate the tempo of the game with Everton happy to sit back and make themselves difficult to break down. My prediction for this game is for Bristol to sneak an away win.

Score Prediction: 0-1
Rich’s Prediction: 0-2

Brighton & Hove Albion vs Chelsea

Brighton will be ruing the missed opportunity from the penalty spot that could have seen them pick up an opening-weekend away win. Brighton managed to win twice away from home all of last season so this will be a huge confidence booster to a side that many have tipped as relegation favourites.

Chelsea picked up a 1-0 win in their opening fixture, in a London derby played at Stamford Bridge against Tottenham – courtesy of a Beth England 30-yard rocket. In truth, Chelsea were lucky that their lack of killer instinct in-front of goal did not come back to haunt them as Spurs certainly had their chances to level the game.

This fixture last season, saw Chelsea run out 0-4 winners and I expect a comfortable afternoon for Emma Hayes’ side. It will be imperative that Chelsea pick up 3 points to keep the pressure up on Arsenal and Manchester City. Chelsea will hope that striker, Fran Kirby will be fit for selection after missing the last game through injury. I predict a 0-3 away win for Chelsea.

Score Prediction: 0-3
Rich’s Prediction: 1-2

Reading vs Manchester City

Reading picked up a 0-1 away against Liverpool last weekend with Fara Williams grabbing the solitary goal before the break. Reading dominated much of the possession (56%) and had 5 shots on target, however, they couldn’t convert their dominance into more goals.

Manchester City beat their Manchester neighbours, United 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium, with a record crowd of 31,000 in attendance. City started their match brightly and can count themselves slightly lucky to come away with all 3 points. Caroline Weir serving a timely reminder of her talents as she scored an early contender for goal of the season at the start of the second half.
Reading can be a stubborn side to break down. They play compact and tight in the defensive third with the ability to spring into life on the counter attack. In this fixture last season, Reading narrowly lost in a thrilling 3-4 game that swung between the two sides with Kirstyn Pearce grabbing a goal in the 87th minute to set up a nervy last few minutes for City. I think this will again be a close game that Reading will be happy to pick up a point from, however, I feel that City will have enough quality to put a couple of goals past Reading.

Score Prediction: 0-2
Rich’s Prediction: 1-1

Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool

Tottenham will be desperate to pick up their first 3 points of the season following defeat to London rivals, Chelsea last weekend. Tottenham will be pleased with their performance. They contained Chelsea well and allowed them to have the possession in their own half and midfield but were ultimately undone by a spectacular effort from Beth England.

Liverpool will have been disappointed with their loss at home to Reading but they will take heart that they only conceded the 1 goal. Liverpool will be looking to Courtney Sweetman-Kirk to kick-start her season after impressing last season with 13 goals.

I do think Spurs will win this one and pick up their first points on the board. Spurs have been very impressive after a summer of clever recruitment to prepare them for life in the FA WSL. There is a nice feel to the squad without reliance on a group of XI players week-in-week-out. There is real quality and strength in deep throughout all areas. I want to see more from Coral-Jade Haines who I feel is an exceptionally talented player that picks the ball up in areas that defenders do not want to get dragged in to. I felt Spurs missed Rianna Dean last weekend and her striking presence could have made a difference. I predict Tottenham to win 2-1 with Liverpool getting on the score sheet.

Score Prediction: 2-1
Rich’s Prediction: 2-2

West Ham vs Birmingham City

West Ham put in an outstanding shift last weekend as they lost 2-1 away from home to current Champions, Arsenal. Many thought Arsenal would pick the Hammers off, however, they showed steely determination and had fortune shone more favourably may have nicked a point. Following a sloppy performance in their previous outing in pre-season, there is a sense that you don’t know which West Ham are going to turn up on the day. They have played some fantastic football but slow starts and defensive frailties have been their un-doing. Martha Thomas has been an incredible asset so far with her finishing and strength.

Birmingham will be ruing their opening day defeat to Everton, in a game that they were expected to win. Birmingham dominated possession with 64%, racked up 9 corners and had 4 shots on target but just could not break through Everton’s resilience. The Blues will be looking to the talents of Lucy Whipp and Chloe Arthur to create their chances and there is, of course, the return of midfielder, Briana Visalli to Rush Green.

I think this will be a tight and edgy affair with very few chances. Both sides will set themselves up not to lose in the first instance and I think it will be the case of who blinks first and who gets out of the traps faster. A fast start will be key to this, which will allow the side who makes that early breakthrough to then sit back and soak up the pressure. I am going for a 1-1 draw.

Score Prediction: 1-1
Rich’s Prediction: 2-1

Manchester United vs Arsenal

Much had been made last weekend of the first Manchester derby in the women’s game and it did not disappoint. Manchester United will feel slightly aggrieved that they walked away empty handed after giving City a good run for their money. This will be another stern test for them. United played Arsenal in the semi-final stage of the Continental Cup last season and came away with a narrow 2-1 loss.

Arsenal will be pleased to come away with all 3 points, however, they will not be pleased with how close they were pushed. Arsenal had 64% of the possession against West Ham, 5 shots on target and 5 corners but could not put the game to bed after racing into a 2-0 lead at half-time. This time out, Arsenal will hope to show more clinical qualities in front of goals, especially with last season’s top-scorer, Vivianne Miedema who marked her return from a hamstring injury with 2 goals in midweek as Arsenal beat Fiorentina in the Champions League will be hoping to continue where she left off last season scoring 29 goals in 28 appearances.

I think that Arsenal will make a fast start again as they will look to assert their dominance and record a routine away win.

Score Prediction: 0-2
Rich’s Prediction: 1-3

Blackburn Rovers vs Sheffield United

Blackburn have found life in the FA WC hard going after 3 games without picking up a point. Last weekend, they narrowly lost to promotion favourites, Aston Villa 2-1 at a game that was played at Villa Park. Rovers will be looking to address that this weekend and get their first points of the season. A lack of goals scored (2 in 3 matches) is proving to be an issue at the moment.

Sheffield United have, in contrast, had a steady, if inconsistent, start to the season, playing only 2 matches so far wining 1 and losing 1. Sheffield United had the weekend off last week so they should be well rested and prepared for this match. Katie Wilkinson has had an excellent start to the season, scoring 2 goals in 3 appearances.

I think Sheffield will have enough extra quality to pick up their second win of the season, however, I wouldn’t discount Blackburn from picking up a goal.

Score Prediction: 1-2
Rich’s Prediction: 2-2

Charlton Athletic vs London City Lionesses

Charlton have had a slow start after playing 2 matches; drawing their opening game and losing to Durham 2-0 away last weekend. Charlton will be looking to press on this week to add to their single point of the season so far as they sit in ninth place.

London City Lionesses got back to winning ways last weekend as they beat Leicester 3-1, with Ylenia Priest, Leanne Cowan and Evie Clarke registering their first goals of the season. The Lionesses currently sit third in the table on 6 points after 3 games, scoring 7 goals and conceding 4. With players coming back from their respective injuries there a real feeling of purpose with this talented squad. With the cup matches starting next week pitting them against FA WSL side, Arsenal – I feel that this will be a true reflection of their ability and what they will be capable of this season. Ultimately, this will be the objective for London City Lionesses this season – promotion but a decent cup run will go some way as a test, or indeed a taste of things to come.

I think the Lionesses will get their third win of the season and maintain pressure at the top end of the table.

Score Prediction: 1-3
Rich’s Prediction: 0-2

Coventry United vs Lewes

Coventry have picked up a point from their 2 games played this season. They drew their opening game against Crystal Palace and narrowly lost 2-1 to London Bees last weekend. It has been a steady start for the new-comers this season. Coventry will now be looking to pick up some momentum as the fixtures start to pile up and cup competitions begin. Will Coventry target a cup run or will they focus on retaining FA WC status; time will tell?

Lewes have had a somewhat indifferent start to the season. After picking up an impressive opening day win over Leicester, they have since drawn 2 in a row against Charlton and Crystal Palace. Lewes, who have been so impressive with their commitments to equality and the women’s game have an opportunity to pick up 3 points in a match they will be expected to win away from home.

I don’t think it will be an easy game for Lewes, Coventry will look to make themselves as difficult to beat at the back as possible and I think it will be the odd goal that settles this tie and, in my opinion, in favour of the away side.

Score Prediction: 0-1
Rich’s Prediction: 2-1

Crystal Palace vs Aston Villa

Palace gained some unwelcomed publicity this week with accusations made regarding player welfare and double standards in the treatment of players with long-term injuries. Whilst no official word has come out from the club, there has been an out-pouring of support within the women’s football community towards Gemma Bryan as she seeks treatment and recovery from an ACL injury in April this year. On the pitch, Palace have steadily picked up points without setting the league on fire, with Ashleigh Goddard leading the club’s top scorer charts with 2 goals. Palace currently sit seventh in the table with 2 points from their opening 3 games and will be looking to pick up their first win of the season as they welcome unbeaten, Aston Villa.

Aston Villa are currently top of the league with 3 wins from 3; scoring 9 and conceding 2 in the process. As my early tip for league champions, Villa have started the season with determination and courage but playing some attractive football. Mel Johnson currently sits top of the goal scoring charts with 4 goals scored in 3 appearances so far this season.

I think Villa will rack up a convincing away win over a side that will now be missing their club captain for the rest of the season through a knee injury.

Score Prediction: 0-4
Rich’s Prediction: 1-2

Leicester City vs London Bees

Sorry Leicester have had a terrible start to the season, firmly rooted to the bottom of the table losing all 3 of their games so far this season and conceding 15 goals already. It just has not worked for Leicester, despite having a very talented squad at their disposal. I am certain this slump won’t last for long but they will now be playing catch-up as they need to string 2 or 3 wins together on the bounce.

London Bees have gone about their work quietly this season and have almost slipped under the radar. They currently sit in fourth place on 6 points after winning their last 2 games following an opening day defeat. In the process they have scored 3 goals and conceded 3 and will now need to starting kicking on to keep pace with the sides above them.

I think Bees will continue their run of good form and record an away win. I don’t think it will be a big loss for Leicester but those results really do need to start turning if they want to rise up the table. 1-2 away win is my guess for this game.

Score Prediction: 1-2
Rich’s Prediction: 1-2

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