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FA WSL Round Up: Chelsea go top of the table

With just one WSL game last weekend there was a full fixture list this past weekend.

Reigning Champions Chelsea moved to the top of the WSL table after a 2-1 win over previous leaders Manchester United. The teams are level on points but Chelsea have a better goal difference, plus a game in hand.

Third placed Arsenal were held to a 1-1 draw by Reading. Manchester City hammered Aston Villa 7-0 while Everton put four past bottom side Bristol City. Tottenham beat West Ham by 1-0 and Birmingham City drew at home to Brighton.

Chelsea 2 v 1 Manchester United

Chelsea began brightly with Sam Kerr going past two United defenders to take a shot forcing Mary Earps into an early save. Just two minutes later and Fran Kirby’s though ball finds Kerr in the box but she shot wide. Kerr had another chance but her first time shot went wide again. Three really good chances for The Blues who should have been leading.

United’s first chance came from Christen Press, Kirsty Hanson’s cross defected to Press who hit the ball on the half volley but put it wide.

Chelsea were soon back on the front foot. Working into the box on the right, Fran Kirby had another chance but Earps stuck a leg for a Chelsea corner.

Erin Cuthbert swung in the corner which was met by Pernille Harder who headed towards goal. Amy Turner headed the ball out but it found its to Kirby who shot was blocked but United could not clear and Harder turned the ball into the net. 1-0 Chelsea 30′.

United brought Lauren James on for Press after 55 minutes and it took the 19 year old just six minutes to make an impact. After playing a lovely 1-2 with Ella Tonne, James took sight of goal and curled her shot past the outstretched arms of Berger. 1-1 61′

The goal woke the Chelsea team up as Kerr had another chance saved by Earps. After So-Yun Ji’s shot defected into her path Kerr tried the shot but Earps saved comfortably.

Chelsea retook the lead on 65 minutes as Berger’s long ball went the length of the pitch. The United defenders were not alive to the ball over the top but Chelsea’s in form player Fran Kirby was. Taking a couple of touches Kirby calmly put the ball past the advancing Earps. 2-1 Chelsea 61′.

Lauren James had another chance to level. Ella Tonne playing James behind the chelsea backline, but the striker but her shot wide of the target.

A thrilling game between the top two ends with a win for the Champions, who now go top of the league.

Reading 1 v 1 Arsenal

Arsenal missed the chance to close the gap to second place after drawing at Reading. Reading took the lead after 5 minutes as Lauren Bruton turned in Emma Mitchells free kick. Arsenal were level five minutes before halftime. Jill Roord’s header was saved by Grace Moloney, but Vivianne Miedema was first to react to tap in for her 12th goal of the season.

Reading reamian in sixth place while Arsenal are still third three points of Chelsea and Manchester United.

West Ham United 0 v 1 Tottenham Hotspur

West Ham began this game brightly but failed to really trouble Spur’s keeper Rebecca Spencer. Tottenham grew into the game and took the lead on 35 minutes.

Rosella Ayane putting temping cross across the six yard box, Alanna Kennedy was crowded out by West Ham’s defenders and unable to get the ball. Tottenham’s Gemma Davison picked up the loose ball and found Lucy Quinn who fired home.

West Ham pushed for an equalizer in the second half but couldn’t find the net. The win is Tottenham’s third in a row and they sit in 7th place. West Ham are 10th.

Everton 4 v 0 Bristol City

After five games without a win Everton picked up all three points after putting four past Bristol City.

Taking the lead after 4 minutes, Nicoline Sorensen’s cross was turned into the roof of the net by Izzy Christiansen. Sorensen and Christiansen almost combined for the second but City keeper haland made a good save. Hayley Raso’s cross looked to be the keepers but she fumbled the ball and it was turned in by Simone Magill. Everton lead 2-0 at half time.

Christiansen made it three after squeezing the ball from a tight angle into the far corner after being played in by Lucy Graham. Megan Finnigan round off a good win with a fourth heading in at the near post from Christiansen’s corner.

Everon stay in fifth place on 17 points while Bristol City are still looking for a first win.

Manchester City 7 v 0 Aston Villa

Not really a contest at The Academy Stadium as Manchester City ran riot and put 7 past Aston Villa. Lauren Hemp got the first sliding in at the far post from Chole Kelly’s cross. Jill Scott made it two after 17 minutes before Stanway scored the third on 31 minutes. Kelly and Hemp combined again to make it four nil, before Kemp’s cross was put into the goal by Villa’s Natalie Haigh. Ellen White made six before half time.

Chloe Kelly got City’s seventh in the second half. City are fourth five points off the leaders Chelsea and Manchester United. Villa are 11th four points ahead of Bristol City.

Birmingham City 0 v 0 Brighton

Brighton controlled this match but rarely caused Birmingham keeper Hannah Hampton. Despite having seven shots on target the Birmingham keeper was never in danger of conceding. Birmingham had only one shot on target in the entire game and Brighton will feel hard done by with just a point.

Brighton are in 9th place while Birmingham are 8th.

Birmingham City will host Everton at 19:00 on Wednesday 20th January. Aston Villa are home to Reading on Saturday 23rd January 12:00. Two 12:00 kick offs on Sunday 24th January as Arsenal host West Ham and Manchester United host Birmingham City. Brighton will play Manchester City at 14:00 and Bristol City will host leaders Chelsea.

Wayne Rooney Named As Permanent Derby Manager

Former Manchester United and Everton forward Wayne Rooney has taken over as permanent manager at Derby County. The news broke on Friday 15th January that Rooney, who had been in temporary charge since the departure of Phillip Cocu in November.

Derby comfired the appointment of Rooney, who will retire from playing with CEO Stephen Pearce saying,

“We are delighted to confirm the appointment of Wayne Rooney as our new manager.

“Our recent upturn in results under Wayne was married together with some positive performances, notably the 2-0 home win over Swansea City and the 4-0 victory at Birmingham City.

“During that nine-game run we also dramatically improved their defensive record and registered five clean sheets in the process, while in the attacking third we became more effective and ruthless too.

“Those foundations have provided a platform for the club to build on in the second half of the season under Wayne’s guidance.”

Rooney will be helped by Assistant Manager Liam Rosenior, Shay Given will move into a first team coach role with Justin Walker remaining as first team delvopment coach. Acadamey goal-keeping coach Jason Pearcey will move to first team goal-keeping coach. The club also comfired that former England Manager Steve McClaren will remain as Techichal director and advisor to the board.

Rooney enjoyed a stellar playing career with Everton (twice), Manchester United, DC United before sigining for Derby. Rooney picked up five Premier League titles, three EFL cups an FA Cup as well as a Uefa Champions League and Europra League. He is Manachester United’s all time top scorer with 253 goals. Rooney is also Englands leading goalscorer having scored 53 for his counrty.

Speaking about calling time on his playing career,

“I’ve had a great career and enjoyed every minute, Of course, I will miss it but I’ve been very fortunate to play for some massive teams. Playing for Everton was a boyhood dream of mine and then to go and play for 13 years at United was the highlight. To stay at the biggest club in the world for so long and win so many trophies is something I’ll always appreciate.”

Rooney said that the potenial of the club was what attracted hime to Derby,

“When I first arrived back in the United Kingdom I was completely blown away by the potential of Derby County Football Club. The Stadium, Training Ground, the quality of the playing staff and the young players coming through and of course the fan base that has remained loyal and supportive.

“Despite other offers I knew instinctively Derby County was the place for me.

“To be given the opportunity to follow the likes of Brian Clough, Jim Smith, Frank Lampard and Phillip Cocu is such an honour and I can promise everyone involved in the club and all our fans, my staff and I will leave no stone unturned in achieving the potential I have witnessed over the last 12 months of this historic football club.”

Rooney first game will be a home game against Rotherham United on Saturday 16th of January.

Championship Preview: Cardiff City v Norwich City

Championship leaders Norwich head to Cardiff on Saturday looking to maintain their four point lead at the top of the table. The two side will be familiar with each other having met at Carrow Road on December 19th, with Norwich winning two goals to nil.

Cardiff manager Neil Harris is under pressure after seeing his side lose four games in a row, a run that has seen The Bluebirds drop to 15th in the table. Norwich have lost just one game in their last nine, a 1-0 defeat at Watford. This run includes seven wins.

Team News

Cardiff are struggling with injuries currently but are hopeful that Wales forward Kieffer Moore will be able to take part this weekend. Full back Greg Cunningham is back training but Saturday’s game comes to soon for him. Cardiff captain Sean Morrison is also likely to miss this match, and Aden Flint (who returned from loan at Sheffield Wednesday this month) will also miss out. On Loan right back Jordi Osei-Tutu came off after 40 minutes of a under 23’s game this week so Leandro Bacuna will continue at right back, whilst Joe Bennett will play a t centre half again.

Cardiff announced this week that Sol Bamba has been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and will be receiving treatment. Whilst he won’t be part of the match squad Bamba will be supporting his team mates and continuing his role at the clubs academy. Everyone at 24/7 Football send their thoughts to Sol and his family.

Norwich will be without Bali Mumba and Xavi Quintilla for the trip to Cardiff after the pair tested positive for COVID-19. Goal keeper Tim Krul and Adam Idah are both still recovering from the virus and will not be the match squad. Lukas Rupp and josh Martin will also be out for this game both are ill. Marco Stiepermann is suffering from an ear infection and will miss this game.

Manager Thoughts

Neil Harris dismissed that this is a must win game during his pre-match press conference saying:

“It’s not a must-win game, we are not anywhere near that position.

“We have come away from being very close to it to where we are now.

“To get back there we have to put a consistent run of results together. Whether that’s fit players or new signings, that’s vitally important.

“But then, we have still got a group of players who are good enough to compete at the top of this division.

“We are a side capable of putting a run together. We showed that last season and this season as well.

“This weekend is going to be tough but it’s a game we can win. Then we have a run of games where we can build performances and results.”

Norwich Manager Daniel Farke believes that this will not be a easy victory for his side saying:

“Cardiff are a side who know how they pay. Kieffer Moore could come back in, they have an unbelievably experienced coach. Right now, they’re not in the position they want to be but that have potential to win five or six in a row. 

“It will be a difficult away game and they’ll be highly-motivated coming up against the league leaders at home.

“I trust my players and we’re confident in each and every game. Cardiff will want to show a reaction to the first game. We need a very good performance and we are respectful.”

Prediction; Cardiff 0 v 2 Norwich

Cardiff are on a poor run and still without several key players and lacking a cutting edge in front of goal. Norwich should win this game comfortably.

Kick off for this game is 3pm on Saturday 16th of January.

FA WSL Round UP: covid tears apart Fixture List

In what must be the strangest weekend in WSL history only one fixture was played over the weekend. Five of the six scheduled games were postponed as a result of positive Covid-19 tests and injuries. A rise in positive cases and required self-isolation sparking the debate as to whether football should continue during the pandemic.

The one fixture that did go ahead saw Chelsea move into second place after thumping Reading five goals to nil. Fran Kirby hit four goals in a dominating win for The Blues.

Manchester City were due to host West Ham on Saturday 9th, but after positive tests at the club and other mitigating circumstances they were unable to field the required 14 players.

Aston Villa who were hosting Arsenal also saw there game postponed as Arsenal were also unable to field a side after a number of their players were self isolating. Three Arsenal players one of which being Katie McCabe made trips to Dubai over the winter break and have faced criticism for making the trip. Arsenal have investigated the matter and believe the travel was in line with Government restrictions.

Birmingham City’s trip to Tottenham was called off due to injuries within the City squad. As it was not related to Covid the game will not be rescheduled. The league made the following statement:

Birmingham contacted the FA to notify the association they would not be able to fulfil the fixture away at Tottenham due to not having enough players fit and available to play, as a result of a number of injuries.

“A request for postponement was made by the club under the competition’s epidemic rule, but was not able to be granted as this is an injury-related issue.

“The outcome of the fixture will be determined by an independent tribunal.

“The FA will provide an update on that decision in due course, and wishes the players concerned a full and speedy recovery.”

After the decision Birmingham released the following:

As a professional football club we have a duty of care to our players. Their welfare is at the centre of this decision and it is a conclusion we never wanted to reach.

“However, it has been well documented that Carla Ward’s side has been the victim of an unfortunate and extraordinary run of injuries and despite our best efforts to field a team this weekend, it would be irresponsible to do so.

“The club maintain the position that we would be putting our players at risk of further injury and jeopardise their wellbeing in pursuit of fixture fulfilment. This is not a concession we are willing to make.

“An application for a postponement was submitted to the FA but this request was denied.

“We are aware of the ramifications of this decision but contest that we are also bound by an obligation to preserve our players health and safety, above all else.”

Brighton, who were due to travel to play Bristol City, had a second positive case in Friday’s round of testing meaning they had seven players isolating:

“We thank both The FA and Bristol City for their assistance and understanding in dealing with this matter” said a statement from Brighton.

Manchester United manager Casey Stoney has apologised for allowing members of her squad to go Dubai despite their being no outbreak within the United squad. Their match at Everton was called off due to Covid concerns within the Everton camp. Five Everton players contracted coronavirus over the Christmas break.

“I said before Christmas that I will always take my players’ well-being into consideration and I granted [them] permission to go home and see their families to have a break,”

Stoney said:

“Everything we allowed them to do was within government guidelines, but I have to be honest and on reflection it was a poor error in judgment from me. I am sincerely sorry for that. I’m human and I make mistakes, I take responsibility for it.”

Reading v Chelsea

There was one game that went ahead as Chelsea blow Reading away at the Majewski Stadium. Fran Kirby hit a first half hat trick and got a fourth in the second half before sub Ji So-Yun made it five.

The win moves Chelsea into second just three points behind leaders Manchester United with a game in hand and a superior goal difference. Chelsea have put the pressure on United as the sides are due to met in the next round of games.

Chelsea took the lead after 16 minutes, a hopeful ball up the middle was flicked on by Sam Kerr. Kirby got behind the Reading defenders and rounded keeper Grace Moloney to slot home. Chelsea almost doubled the lead as Kirby found a pocket of space just outside the box, curling in a right football shot she struck the post.

It was 2-0 after 23 minutes as Reading defender Emma Mitchell gifted Kirby the ball half way into the Reading half. The invitation to charge at goal was all Kirby needed as she put the ball past the advancing keeper’s right, with her left foot. Mitchell attempted to get back in front of Kirby but the Chelsea player was not to be denied.

Kirby competed the perfect hat trick in first half injury time. From a free kick sent out to the by-line, Sam Kerr turned it back towards the area where it was met be the head of Fran Kirby who guided the ball into the top corner.

Half time: Reading 0 v 3 Chelsea

Eight minutes into the second half and Kirby had her and Chelsea’s fourth. From a corner floated towards the near post, Kirby outjumped Angharad James to loop the ball into the far corner.

Ji So-Yun rounded off a superb Chelsea performance with a fifth goal. Hannah Blundell’s cross found Ji in the box, taking the ball down on her right foot and calmly waiting for the ball to bounce and sit up for a volley into the far corner on her left foot.

Chelsea in fine form as they head into the next round and a top of the table clash with Manchester United. This was the Fran Kirby show as the England forward helped herself to four goals.

Full Time; Reading 0 v 5 Chelsea

The WSL is back on January 17th, with the top two meeting as Manchester United travel to Chelsea. Manchester City will host Aston Villa, Everton will play bottom side Bristol City. Reading will host Arsenal, Birmingham City face Brighton and there’s a London Derby as Tottenham travel to West Ham.

FA WSL Returns To Action

The WSL returns this weekend after a break over Christmas. Bottom side Bristol City, who are still looking for their first win of the campaign, host Brighton in a 2pm kick-off. While the other two matches that are also due to take place see third-place Chelsea travel to face Reading and Tottenham play Birmingham City.

Arsenal would have had the chance to close the gap on United but their game against Aston Villa has been postponed. Three Arsenal players made a trip to Dubai over Christmas and one player has tested positive for COVID 19. The positive test has lead to other players having to isolate and the club requested a postponement, BBC Sport has reported.

Manchester City’s game against West Ham scheduled for Saturday has also been postponed due to positive tests at Manchester City. Sky Sports reports that as well as the test results another player is self-isolating, while Rose Levelle and Sam Mewis are away on international duty.

While Everton’s match with leaders Manchester United has also had to be called off.

Everton v Manchester United – Match Postponed

United’s last game was a 6-1 win over Bristol City. Tobin Heath and Leah Galton both getting two goals, with Millie Turner and Jess Sigsworth also on the score sheet. Everton suffered a 4-0 loss at Arsenal in their last match.

The two side met in December in the Continental League Cup with Everton picking up a 1-0 win. Lucy Graham netting the only goal of the game. United have won the previous four WSL matches.

Unfortunately, however, Everton have since announced that they had to call off this match because of recent COVID-19 infections and injuries. A new date for the game is yet to be confirmed.

Prediction; Everton 1v 3 Manchester United

Bristol City v Brighton & Hove Albion 10/1/20 14:00

Having suffered a heavy loss to United in their last outing Bristol City still sit bottom of the table without a win. It could be a chance for a first win as Brighton are on a run of four straight defeats.

The side faced each other in the Continental League cup which Bristol won 2-1. History is with City as out of the last four meetings they have won two and drawn two.

Brighton are on a poor run having lost to Reading (twice), Chelsea and Tottenham. This match will be shown live via FA Player.

Prediction; Bristol City 1 v 0 Brighton

Tottenham Hotspur v Birmingham City 10/1/20 14:00

Spurs have back to back 3-1 wins in their last two WSL matches. A win over Brighton was followed by a win against Aston Villa. A third home game in a row for Tottenham who are in superb home form. Just one defeat in nine home matches, who will be looking to gain ground on side above them.

It won’t be easy for Tottenham as The Blues have been on a fantastic away run. Aside from their recent defeat at Arsenal they have won 4 games in a row on the road.

Both sides sit on 9 points and a win for either side could help them make the top half of the WSL table. This match will also be shown on FA Player.

Prediction; Tottenham 2 v 1 Birmingham City

Reading v Chelsea 10/1/20 14:00

Chelsea have the chance to go second this weekend with Arsenal not playing. Chelsea have two games in hand over Arsenal but a win here would put them above The Gunners and have an extra game.

Reading have just one defeat in five matches and recently picked up a 3-1 away win at Brighton. Jess Fishlock put in an excellent performance in the win and will need to be at her best again as Reading face Chelsea.

Chelsea have won nine out of their last ten games with one draw. This run includes beating Benfica in the Champions League and beating Manchester City 3-1. This match will be on FA Player.

Prediction; Reading 0 v 3 Chelsea