Three matches may have been called off due to COVID-19, but the Women’s Super League still returned from the winter break with a bang.
Manchester City opened 2022 with an emphatic 6-0 victory against Brighton & Hove Albion, leapfrogging their opponents to fifth place in the WSL table.
Reading edged past Leicester City 1-0, while Birmingham City pulled off the shock of the season by defeating Arsenal 2-0, leaving the league leaders shell-shocked.
GiveMeSport Women discusses five talking points from the three fixtures.
Arsenal slip up
Arsenal went into the winter break as WSL leaders, four points clear of Chelsea. Fans of the Gunners were joyous when the Blues were beaten 1-0 by Reading last month, but little did they know they would soon find themselves in a similar situation.
In fact, Arsenal’s 2-0 loss this weekend was even more of an upset. Birmingham ended a 805-day winless league run at home to beat the side from North London, and put a significant dent in their title hopes.
Chelsea are yet to play their corresponding fixture, but victory would put them just one point behind Arsenal, with the two teams set to meet in February. Arsenal fans will just be hoping yesterday was a blip rather than a sign of things to come.
Birmingham bite back in relegation battle
With Leicester falling to Reading, Birmingham’s victory saw the side propelled off the bottom of the table. They are now 11th with four points, one point above the Foxes.
The season may be far from over, but this weekend’s results well and truly gave Birmingham the upper hand in the relegation battle. It remains to be seen whether they can keep this advantage.
Manchester City back on track?
It’s been a miserable season for Manchester City so far. A severe injury crisis saw the side plunge down the WSL table following losses to Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham and Chelsea.
This weekend’s match against Brighton saw the return of a number of key players, however, including defenders Lucy Bronze and Steph Houghton.
The performance on the pitch was markedly improved, with the free scoring side hitting six past Brighton.
Could this be a turning point for Manchester City? With the squad no longer plagued by injuries, a surge up the WSL table could indeed start here.
Should Brighton be concerned?
Despite enjoying a bright start to this season, Brighton have experienced a dip in form of late. In fact, the side has not won a match in any competition since November 14th.
A place in the top three is outside of Brighton’s capabilities, but Hope Powell will be keen to finish above sixth place to improve on last season’s showing.
The Seagulls now sit seventh, and will have to get back to winning ways soon.
Natasha Dowie still has it
Natasha Dowie scored the only goal in Reading’s clash against Leicester City, and it was a contender for strike of the season.
The 33-year-old broke free from her defender on the left side of the pitch, before floating a long-range effort over Foxes goalkeeper Demi Lambourne.
Dowie has been one of the most prolific strikers in the WSL since its inception, and she demonstrated this weekend that she can still pull sensational goals out of the bag.