Women's Sport: Barclays FA WSL Week Two Preview

Arsenal Women v Manchester United Women  - FA WSL Cup

With the second week of FA WSL fixtures set to get underway, here's a look at the upcoming fixtures and what we can expect from them.

Reading v Manchester City
After both sides secured 1-0 opening weekend wins, they'll be looking to add to their tally and keep the momentum going when they go head to head at Adams Park on Sunday.

The last time Reading beat City was back in the 2017/18 season, where goals from Allen and Pearce were enough to see them steal three points away from home. Last season they didn't have the same luck though coming close with a 1-1 draw and then a thrilling 4-3 encounter late on in the season.

Reading will be optimistic coming into this game knowing they've strengthened over the summer and have beaten City before, as well as carrying the momentum from their win against Liverpool last week. 

City, on the other hand, will be coming into this game following last week's Manchester derby against United, where Caroline Weir's screamer was enough to get their first three points on the board. More importantly, it will be their first test of squad depth given their midweek Champions League fixture over in Switzerland – the first of their two legs against FF Lugano. Rotation will be key for Cushing's side as they look to double their points tally two games into the new season.

This by no means will be an easy fixture for either side, but due to the quality they have in their squad depth City may just take the edge. But, as Weir and Williams showed in their respective games last week, sometimes a moment of magic is all it takes to secure the points.

KO 12.30pm, Sunday 15th September 

Liverpool v Reading - Barclays FA Women's Super League

Everton v Bristol City

Everton currently have the upper hand between the two teams following opening weekend, with three points on the board thanks to a win away to Birmingham City. Bristol, on the other hand, were held at home to a 0-0 draw by an impressive Brighton side. 

Since their return to top-flight football last season, Everton have only managed to beat Bristol once – in an FA Cup game in which they ended up progressing to the semi-final.

Last week Bristol were held by Brighton in their first game of the season, so coming into this weekend, they'll be looking to get their first win on the board and avoid dropping more points in their pursuit of WSL success. They could be relying on the heroics of Sophie Baggaley once again, who saved a penalty last weekend.

With both sides aiming for mid-table finishes, it's games like these that could prove to be vital in the long run. New signings at each club have settled well, and both showed new signs of attacking football in their league openers.

KO 12.30pm, Sunday 15th September 

Chelsea Women v Everton Ladies - FA WSL

Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool
Both Spurs and Liverpool were subject to 1-0 defeats in their opening games of the WSL season, the former losing away to Chelsea and the latter at home to Reading.

Spurs' start to life in the WSL couldn't have come any harder than Chelsea who – in all areas of the pitch – are dominant. But they shouldn't be disheartened given that they went toe to toe with Chelsea and the only thing that could separate the two sides was a spectacular and unstoppable strike from Beth England. They were creative – Gemma Davison at the heart of it – and showed just how good they could be. It was clear they were missing Rianna Dean upfront; who possess instinct and a clinical edge that could be the difference between a loss and a win for them.

Liverpool – much like Spurs – lost to Reading in their previous game thanks to a sublime Fara Williams free-kick which proved the be the ultimate decider. Positives did emerge for Liverpool despite the result, and that was the debuts of Lawley and Babajide. Lawley is calm and composed, offering a wealth of experience while Babajide is fast-paced and forward-thinking; a potentially exciting combination for the Reds going forward.

With no history in the top tier between these two sides, it's a chance to make a little bit of history. While Liverpool showed glimpses of what they're capable of against Reading, the attacking threat of Spurs – especially should Dean return – may prove to be too much for them on this occasion.

KO 2 pm, Sunday 15th September 

Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur - Barclays FA Women's Super League

Brighton & Hove Albion v Chelsea

This season is Brighton's second season in the WSL, and they'll be hoping they can finally put a dent in Chelsea's record against them. The three times they met last season – including once in the FA Cup – Chelsea were comfortable winners on all occasions. Powell's side can take hope from their impressive display against a strong Bristol side – their passing was quicker, crisper and they were creating opportunities well but missed that clinical edge which they'll need to stand a chance against Chelsea.

Last weekend was a self-assured display from Hayes' Chelsea side, who will feel they have a point to prove this year given they missed out on Champions League football following their third-place finish last season. Their football was slick, fast-paced and exciting to watch against London rivals Spurs and they'll be hoping for more of that when they travel to Brighton on Sunday. There were points at which their defence looked exposed last weekend, so they'll need to tighten that up to ensure they don't concede against this creative Brighton side.

On the whole, both sides had chances to score plenty of goals in their last outings but were missing that clinical edge so the tie could potentially go either way; but history is in Chelsea's favour, and their quality in depth may prove too much for Brighton.

KO 2 pm, Sunday 15th September   

Brighton & Hove Albion Women v Manchester United Women - SSE Women's FA Cup Fourth Round

West Ham United v Birmingham City

Neither West Ham nor Birmingham City managed to get points on the board last weekend following defeats to Arsenal and Everton respectively. They're two of five sides without points so far.

West Ham are embarking on their second season in the WSL, following them receiving top tier status back in 2018. Last season they finished a very respectable 7th, but with a summer of strong signings under their belt they'll be hoping to climb ever higher. History isn't on their side in this fixture, however. In the previous two meetings between the sides, the Hammers have twice been on the losing side of 3-0 and 2-1 results. They'll be encouraged by their performance against defending champions Arsenal last time out – coming close to taking a point or more on the road but just missing out.

Birmingham are continuing to adjust following a busy summer transfer which saw a lot more outgoings than they would have been hoping for. Last season they were in touch with the best in the league and were the only team to get close to Chelsea in third place – which ultimately led to the dismantling of their squad after impressive seasons for many of their stars. They did, however, bring in replacements and will be encouraged by what they saw against Everton. Despite losing, there was a particular standout debut from Brianna Visalli who looked threatening going forward every time she picked up the ball. If Birmingham are to be successful in their attacking front, she's sure to be at the heart of it.

KO 2 pm, Sunday 15th September 

Manchester City Women v West Ham United Ladies - Women's FA Cup Final

Manchester United v Arsenal

Both sides come into this tie in very different positions – United on the back of a derby day defeat to rivals City, whereas Arsenal began their title defence with a win at home to West Ham.

United are in their first-ever season of WSL football and if a start away to Manchester City wasn't hard enough, next up for them is a visit from defending WSL champions Arsenal who travel to Leigh Sports Village on Monday night. They'll be looking to get some points on the board after failing to match City last weekend, thanks to Caroline Weir's screamer.

Stoney and her team will be confident in their ability to match the league's best in terms of quality, as they've already shown. A standout performance from United's Jackie Groenen showed her to be a class above the rest – a cog in United's midfield, dictator of play and engine that keeps them going. If they are to get anything from this game, she will be key.

Arsenal's performance at West Ham – more specifically the second half – was not the performance of champions. It was sloppy, difficult and they never seemed to find their feet against a pressing Hammers side. Thankfully for them, they got the job done in the first half with goals from Mead and Roord. Arsenal had a much more comfortable outing in the Champions League on Thursday night, running out a dominant 4-0 win against Fiorentina and more importantly a brace for the returning Miedema. The Dutch international will be essential if Arsenal are to beat United on Monday evening.

As witnessed in the previous outing between these two sides – Arsenal edging it 2-1 – this will not be an easy game for either team but will prove to be one of the most entertaining of the second game week. The attacking threat Arsenal possess going forward may edge it for them once again, but United cannot be written off.

KO 7.30pm, Monday 16th September 

Manchester City v Manchester United - Barclays FA Women's Super League
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