All posts by Adam Stephens

WSL Update: Vivianne Miedema keeps Arsenal in the title race

Defending champions Arsenal secured a vital 3-2 win at Liverpool in the latest round of the Women Super League. 

 The impressive Rinsola Babajide had given Liverpool a surprise lead against Joe Montemurro’s side, breaking clear to slide the ball past Pauline Peyraud-Magnin in the Arsenal goal.

England international, Jordan Nobbs then sparked a dramatic three-minute turn around for the Gunners. She provided the cross for Vivianne Miedema to steer home.  Nobbs then scored herself with a powerful header into the top corner.

Rachel Furness however was able to draw the reds level before half time after capitalising on a defensive error from Arsenal full back Lisa Evans.

In the second half, just when it looked like the defending champions were going to drop crucial points, their star striker Miedema again popped up with a critical header to secure the Gunners first win in three WSL games.

Arsenal’s WSL rivals Chelsea and Manchester City both secured home victories against relegation threatened Birmingham City and Bristol City respectively.

Beth England managed to keep up her impressive WSL scoring record for the Blues by grabbing the crucial second and her 13thof the campaign, to help secure a 2-0 victory over the Midlands Club.

In Alan Mahon’s first game in charge of Manchester City meanwhile, Gemma Bonner’s second minute goal was enough to earn the Citizens a 1-0 victory over Bristol City.

A 2-0 victory for Reading over East London side West Ham United was enough to move them up to fourth above Casey Stoney’s Manchester United team, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Hope Powell’s Brighton & Hove Albion.

Elsewhere, Tottenham Hotspur fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 against Everton in a fiery encounter at their Hive Stadium.

Goals from the Toffees top scorer, Chloe Kelly and Inessa Kaagman had put the Merseyside club in control, however Spurs’ substitute Angela Addison and a long-range free kick from Emma Mitchell earned the North London side a share of the spoils.

February 23rdMatch Previews

Everton vs Manchester United (12:30pm Kick-off)

There is just one point and one place separating these two sides and is a crucial match in the race for finishing fourth.

Casey Stoney’s team have won just once on the road in their past five visits and that was against relegation threatened Birmingham City.

Everton’s home form meanwhile has been pretty good in recent weeks and they have only lost to Manchester City and Arsenal in their last five home games.

Manchester United however won both the previous meetings between the sides including a 3-0 victory at Everton last November in the Continental Tyres Cup.

Prediction Everton 2-0 win

We fancy the Toffees to secure their first win over Manchester United this time around with recently called up England striker, Chloe Kelly proving the difference. 

Birmingham City vs Bristol City (2pm)

This is certainly a relegation six pointer between these two midlands’ clubs.

Bristol City are currently bottom of the Super League but could move up to 10thwith a win over rivals Birmingham City.

Both sides come into this one not in the best of form and have only managed wins in cup games in recent weeks.

The Blues do boast a strong record against the Robins having won five of their previous six encounters including a 2-0 win in the league’s reverse fixture last December.

Prediction: Birmingham City 1-0 win

We believe that Birmingham City will secure the crucial three points in tense encounter. 

Brighton & Hove Albion vs Tottenham Hotspur (2pm)

Hope Powell’s Brighton side come into this one in good form having just lost one of their last five matches.  They have also only lost just once at home in 2020, against defending champions Arsenal.

Spurs meanwhile have been relatively inconsistent in their first season in the WSL so far, however they do find themselves well clear of relegation at this point.

The North London side won the only encounter between the sides back in December in a closely fought 1-0 game at The Hive Stadium.

Prediction: Brighton 2-1 win

We are going for another home win in this one, the Seagulls have been strong at home in recent weeks and we are anticipating them to put on another strong showing in front of their own fans.  

Manchester City vs Chelsea (2pm)

This is arguably the title decider and featured game of the weekend.

Both of these sides are in terrific form, Chelsea are still unbeaten throughout this campaign yet they currently sit second, one point behind their latest opponents Manchester City.

Emma Hayes’ side do however crucially have a game in hand over the Citizens and the home team also come into this one with a newly appointed manager in Alan Mahon, who is taking charge of just his second match.

The West London club won the only meeting of the season so far in 2-1 win at Kings Meadow.

Presently that remains to date  Chelsea’s only victory over Manchester City.

Prediction 1-1 draw

We do not think there is much to split these two teams and we believe this will be a score draw.

West Ham United vs Liverpool (3pm)

West Ham United have been struggling in recent weeks with just one win in their past five games.  That came against Brighton in mid-January.

Vicky Jepson’s Liverpool however have been putting in some good performances recently without getting results, they certainly challenged defending champions Arsenal last time out.

Liverpool’s record against the Hammers is also a good one; they have won two of their three encounters and drew 1-1 against them earlier this season.

Prediction Liverpool 3-1 win

The Merseyside club have been impressive in recent weeks and with the likes of Rinsola Babajide and Rachel Furness in the side we think that they will fire Liverpool to a crucial three points. 

Alan Mahon – the right man for the Manchester City Woman’s job?

Following Nick Cushing’s abrupt departure from Manchester City to take on the role of Assistant Manager at the New York men’s side in the MLS at the start of February, 24/7 football takes a closer look at the man entrusted with leading on of the top sides in the WSL. 

Playing career

Alan Mahon began his professional football career at Tranmere Rovers in 1995.

He made a total of 144 appearances for the club over a five-year period that included a Football League Cup final appearance at Wembley in the year 2000, where Rovers lost 2-1 to Martin O’Neil’s Leicester City.

In the same year Mahon earned his two international caps with the Republic of Ireland in Friendly’s against Greece and South Africa respectively.

The Irishman then secured arguably the biggest move of his career later that year as he was signed by Portugal’s Sporting Lisbon.

During his year spell with the club he featured in the team that lost 4-0 to Real Madrid.  The Madrid team had already qualified for the knockout rounds but it still included the likes of Roberto Carlos, Luis Figo and Claude Makelele.

Mahon said:

“I was playing a team like Crewe a few months ago and all of a sudden I am playing Real Madrid in the Bernabeu in the Champions League. I look back on it now with a lot of happiness – one of the highlights of my career.”

Due to his lack of games in Lisbon however he moved back to England on loan to Blackburn Rovers where he would go on to make the move permanent and help the Lancashire club gain promotion to the Premier League.

Further spells with Wigan and Burnley followed before he finished his career where it all began, at Tranmere Rovers.  The Irishman retired in 2011.

Coaching  experience to this point

Mahon has been involved with the Manchester City set up since 2013 as mainly Nick Cushing’s Assistant Manager.

The advantage of his appointment certainly seems to be the sense of continuity.

When asked about his interim successor Cushing said:

“Alan hasn’t been a head coach but he’s got an incredible amount of knowledge and experience in the game.”

Indeed Cushing took on the Manchester City role himself back in 2013 at the time he did not have much experience in the women’s game and went on to achieve three league cups, two FA Cups and an unbeaten league title winning campaign.

One thing that cannot be ignored however is that Mahon is taking over at a challenging point in the season, title rivals Chelsea are still to lose a match and are just a point behind in the WSL table, the blues have also crucially got a game in hand.

The Citizens are also still in the FA Cup as well so there is still the chance of securing another piece of silverware.

Whether or not Mahon can develop the same successful relationship as a manager with his players as his predecessor remains to be seen.

How do you think Mahon will get on at City? Is he the right man for the job? Feel free to let 24/7 Football know your thoughts.

WSL Update: Storm Ciara forces all Women Super League matches to be postponed…

 The Women Super League matches this past weekend were postponed due to the adverse weather caused by Storm Ciara. 

 The main cause of concern was “crowd safety” that could not be guaranteed because of the extreme weather conditions.

Roughly 20,000 were expected to attend the WSL Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park however due to the high winds on Merseyside, this made travelling to and from the match extremely dangerous.

Details of the rearranged fixtures will be released in the next few weeks. 

Mid-Week Preview

Fortunately the WSL clubs will not have to wait long until they are back in action with a full round of fixtures due to take place on Wednesday 12th February and Thursday 13thFebruary.

February 12th

Chelsea vs Birmingham City (Kick-off 7pm)

These two sides could not have more contrasting form coming into this one.  Chelsea have enjoyed seven wins in a row in all competitions, while Birmingham have lost their last four league games.

The Blues however did win at Sheffield United in the FA Cup and their last league win also came away from home against Bristol City.

The Midlands club will have to keep one of the league’s in form strikers, Beth England has managed six goals in her past seven games including two in her last game in the 8-0 win over West Ham United.

Prediction Chelsea 5-0 win

Predicting another convincing win for the only unbeaten side in the WSL.

Manchester City vs Bristol City (7pm)

This is another game where one of the league’s title contenders meets a team who is struggling near the bottom of the table.

The Robins’ performances have improved in recent weeks and they did spring a surprise last time they visited Manchester where they beat Manchester United 1-0.

In order to cause another upset they will almost certainly have to keep the prolific striker Pauline Bremer quiet.  The German has managed ten goals in the WSL so far this season.

Prediction City 4-1 win

City’s home form is very good so we can’t see them slipping up here. 

Reading vs West Ham United (7:30pm)

There are just five points and two places separating these two teams.

Both these teams have also enjoyed a mixed run of results and have secured two wins in their last five matches. There are certainly more question marks over the Hammers however as they are coming off the back of an 8-0 hammering against Chelsea.

The Royals meanwhile currently sit sixth and managed to secure a draw against Manchester United in their last game.  Lastly, West Ham has managed to come away with the three points in both of their previous league visits to Reading.

Prediction Reading 2-0 win

We fancy Reading to secure their first home win over the Hammers.

Tottenham Hotspur vs Everton (7:30pm)

Spurs are certainly fairing pretty well in their first season in the Super League, while Everton are still flying high in fifth and if results go their way could find themselves in the top four.

The North London side have been strong at home in recent weeks winning four of their last five games, with their only defeat coming against the league leaders Manchester City.

Following a strong start to the campaign the Toffees are starting to struggle and have lost three of their last four Super League matches, including a 1-0 defeat to strugglers Brighton.

The Merseyside club will be looking to their star striker Chloe Kelly who recently scored a hat trick in their 3-1 win over Reading.  Kelly has managed eight goals in the WSL this season.

Prediction: Draw 2-2

We are going for a score draw in this one.

Brighton & Hove Albion vs Manchester United (7:45pm)

Hope Powell will certainly be far happier with her sides’ displays in recent weeks.  The Seagulls have particularly enjoyed some strong showings in front of their home fans recently having won three of their past five matches.

Manchester United meanwhile are going through a tricky spell in their season, having been knocked out of two competitions in a space of a few days against Manchester City and Chelsea respectively.

Casey Stoney’s side are also still awaiting their first away win of 2020.

Prediction: Brighton 2-1 win

We think that Hope Powell’s side have what it takes to spring another surprise and take another step towards safety. 

February 13th

Liverpool vs Arsenal (7pm)

At the start of the year Vicky Jepson’s Liverpool looked the clear favourites to be relegated from the WSL.

Since securing a surprise 1-1 draw with Chelsea the reds have managed two wins in their last three, including a crucial 1-0 win over relegation rivals Bristol City.

Arsenal however are now certainly up against it if they want to retain their WSL title having lost to their rivals Manchester City last time out.  Joe Montemurro’s team cannot afford any more slip-ups if want to maintain their faint title hopes.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 win

It was a surprisingly close game between these two sides back in November with the Gunners winning 1-0, so we are anticipating another tight match with Arsenal just coming away with the three points. 

WSL Update: Nick Cushing signs off with a win against Arsenal

Departing Manchester City manger Nick Cushing ended his six-year stint with the club this past weekend by completing a 2-1 win over Arsenal.

Cushing was presented with an achievement award before the game by current club captain Steph Houghton.

During Cushing’s time with the club he led them to one league title, two Women’s FA Cups and three Women’s League Cup’s.

In form striker Pauline Bremer scored the opener for City just before half time from close range. Lauren Hemp doubled their advantage with a looping header.

Danielle Van de Donk pulled a goal back for the Gunners but it was not enough to deny Cushing a dream send off.

The win leaves City a point ahead of closest challengers Chelsea, however the Citizens have played a game more than Emma Hayes’ side.

Chelsea maintained their impressive form by scoring eight goals past West Ham United in an 8-0 win over Matt Beard’s team.

Both Maren Mjelde and Beth England scored twice, while further goals from Scottish winger Erin Cuthbert, Sophie Ingle and substitutes Ramona Bachmann and Emily Murphy completed the scoring.

Casey Stoney’s Manchester United were denied all three points at Adams Park thanks to a Fara Williams penalty, which earned Reading a 1-1 draw with the Red Devils. Both sides remain fourth and sixth respectively in the WSL.

Elsewhere Brighton secured a crucial home win against Everton thanks to a goal from Aileen Whelan, who found the bottom right hand corner of the net against her former club.

This win means that the Seagulls are now six points clear of the relegation zone and are in ninth place.

The other two WSL matches, Liverpool versus Birmingham City and Tottenham Hotspur against Bristol City suffered postponements due to waterlogged pitches.

A Look ahead to this weekend’s fixtures

Sunday 9 February

Everton vs Liverpool (Kick-off 2pm)

Goodison Park is set to host its first Women Super League Merseyside Derby. The previous league meeting between the sides took place at Anfield for the first time last November where Everton secured a 1-0 win.

The Toffee’s recent home form in all competitions has been strong, as they have won three of their last five matches.

Everton’s Merseyside rivals meanwhile have also witnessed an upsurge in form having only lost one of their last five matches.  Although the Reds match with Birmingham City was postponed last weekend.

In terms of the head to head meetings both sides have now won two matches apiece, however the Toffees have won two of their last three encounters with their fierce rivals.

Prediction 1-1 draw

We are anticipating a closely fought encounter between these two sides, predicting that the spoils will be shared on this occasion. 

Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur (2pm)

The WSL fixture list has provided another famous English derby this weekend.

Joe Montemurro’s Arsenal side have endured a tricky time of it as of late, having lost to both their title rivals consecutively in the league.

Their North London rivals however are also going through a difficult spell, particularly away from home where they have lost four of their last five matches.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 win

Predicting the Gunners to get back to winning ways.

Birmingham City vs Brighton & Hove Albion (2pm)

Only one place separates these teams in the table ahead of this weekends matches.

Hope Powell’s Brighton got a big win against Everton last time out, though they are still to record a victory away from home in the WSL this season.

Birmingham meanwhile is also struggling for results, having lost four of their last five games.  Their last league win came against fellow strugglers Bristol City at the start of December.

The Seagulls have got a slight edge over their relegation rivals in terms of head-to head encounters having won two of their three meetings.

Prediction: Birmingham 2-1 win

We think due to the fact the pressure is on Birmingham to win this weekend that they will get the result they need.

Bristol City vs Reading (3pm)

This is a crucial game for the league’s bottom side, with two of their relegation rivals playing each other this weekend.

Bristol City are still to win a home league game in this campaign and they have also lost their last five matches in all competitions so the signs do not look good for Tanya Oxtoby’s team.

Reading also have enjoyed a lot of success against the West Midlands club having won five and drawn just once against them in the league.

Prediction: Reading 3-1 win

We believe that all signs seem to point to a relatively comfortable Reading victory.

West Ham United vs Manchester City (3pm)

The WSL leaders Manchester City begin life without Nick Cushing with a trip to East London.

Alan Mahon, previously the assistant manager, is taking interim charge until the end of the season and he will be determined to get off to a good start.

West Ham meanwhile are coming off the back of a heavy 8-0 defeat to City’s title rivals Chelsea, so they will be coming into this one looking to avoid further humiliation.

The reverse fixture between these sides resulted in 5-0 for Manchester City so it promises to be a tough afternoon for the Hammers.

Prediction: Manchester City 3-0 win

Manchester City has won all three previous encounters with West Ham in the league and we believe they will get the three points in this one to get Mahon off to a winning start.

Manchester United vs Chelsea (4:30pm) – BT Sport

The final game of the weekend promises to be an intriguing one.  Both of these teams met in the Continental Tyres Cup Semi-Final just a week ago with Chelsea coming out 1-0 winners on that occasion, setting up an all London final with Arsenal next month.

In the league’s reverse fixture the Blues also ran out 1-0 winners so all signs seem to point to another close encounter.

Casey Stoney’s side has also only lost twice in the league at home this season.

Prediction Chelsea 2-1 win

We believe this will be another close game with the title favourites Chelsea just coming away with the win.  

WSL Update: Chelsea’s title to lose?

The Blues took what appears to be a giant step towards the title against London rivals Arsenal last time out. 

New Australian signing Sam Kerr scored her first goal for the club as Chelsea scored three times in 20 minutes at the home of the defending champions on their way to a 4-1 victory.

Emma Hayes’ side now have a game in hand over their title rivals Manchester City and Arsenal and are just a point further back in third.

At the other end of the table meanwhile Liverpool finally got their first victory of the season to leapfrog Bristol City.

The reds secured a 1-0 victory over the West-Midlands side thanks to a 13thminute strike from their new signing, Rachel Furness.

Both the Manchester clubs also won, Manchester City kept their title hopes alive with a 2-0 victory over Birmingham City.

Ellen White scored against her old club in just the first minute of the match and midfielder Keira Walsh completed the scoring with a strike from the edge of the area.

Manchester United’s captain, Katie Zelem scored twice as the red devils got the better of Tottenham Hotspur, emerging 3-0 winners.

Elsewhere, Chloe Kelly scored a hat trick as Everton beat Reading 3-1 to secure their first victory in four matches and Alisha Lehmann’s two late goals helped West Ham come from behind to beat Brighton 2-1.

Matchday Previews and Predictions

Sunday 2ndFebruary

Liverpool vs Birmingham City (Kick-off 12pm)

Vicky Jepson’s Liverpool team have enjoyed a revival of late by winning three of their last five games in all competitions. They also secured their first league win of the campaign against fellow strugglers Bristol City.  They also put eight goals past Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup.

Birmingham City by contrast have lost four of their past five games and are currently only a point and a place ahead of Liverpool.

The Blues however did win the reverse fixture back in October 2-0 thanks to goals from their captain Kerys Harrop and Lucy Staniforth.

Prediction: Liverpool 2-0

We fancy Liverpool to continue their recent impressive run and secure their second victory of the season. 

Brighton & Hove Albion vs Everton (2pm)

Everton have won their past two games in all competitions after suffering back to back 3-1 defeats against both Arsenal and Manchester City.  The Toffees currently sit fifth in the table and just goal difference separates them from Manchester United above them in fourth.

Brighton meanwhile could certainly do with a win to ease their regelation concerns, Hope Powell’s team are currently only three points off the bottom. Since beating Liverpool 1-0 at home at the start of January the Seagulls have lost their last three league matches.

Prediction: Brighton 1-0

The Seagulls are under pressure to get a result and we think with home advantage they have what it takes to cause an upset. 

Chelsea vs West Ham United (2pm)

The Blues are flying at the moment, having beaten the defending champions Arsenal last time out they have also secured their place in the Continental Tyres Cup Final by beating Manchester United in the week.

The London side also find themselves in prime position for the WSL title with a game in hand and their two title rivals playing against each other this weekend.

The Hammers’ form has been very up and down in recent weeks and they have also never beaten their London rivals in four previous encounters.  They did however manage to get a 1-1 draw in the corresponding fixture last season.

Prediction: Chelsea 4-0

We anticipate another comprehensive Chelsea victory.

Manchester City vs Arsenal (2pm)

This is certainly the game of the weekend.  The match also marks Nick Cushing’s final game in charge of Manchester City before he heads off to become Assistant Manager of New York City FC.

The sides met in mid-week with Arsenal emerging victorious in their Continental Tyres Cup Semi-final 2-1 to secure a place in the final against Chelsea at the Nottingham Forest City Ground at the end of next month.

Not only is it the Manchester City manager’s final game in charge, this match certainly has huge ramifications for both teams in terms of their title chances.

Prediction: Manchester City 3-2

We are just giving the edge to Manchester City due to home advantage and the fact that it is their manager’s last game in charge.  Anticipating an open game with plenty of goals.

Reading vs Manchester United (2pm)

Both of these sides have suffered two defeats in their last three games.  Manchester United in particular have gone out of two-cup competitions in the space of a few days to Chelsea and Manchester City respectively.

The Royals meanwhile have lost their last two league games against Arsenal and Everton, however they were both away from home. They did win their last home match against Birmingham City 1-0 thanks to a goal from Amalie Eikeland.

The Red Devils secured a 2-0 win when the sides met back at the end of October.

Prediction: Manchester United 1-0

We think that Casey Stoney’s Manchester United will bounce back from their recent disappointments in this one. 

Tottenham Hotspur vs Bristol City (2pm)

The final match sees Spurs hosting bottom side Bristol City.  The London side won emerged victorious in the only encounter between the sides earlier this season in a hard fought 2-1 win.

Bristol City’s form has improved in recent weeks as they have won three of their past five matches including a 1-0 win against Manchester United.

Tottenham Hotspur however have lost three of their past four games, but their one victory did come at home against fellow London side West Ham.

Prediction: Tottenham 3-1

We believe that Tottenham will come away with the three points.