There were goals and late drama galore as the Barclays FA Women’s Super League showed no signs of putting on the brakes in the second matchday of the new decade, writes Ella Jerman.
Chelsea survived an early scare, Spurs scored a stoppage-time winner and Arsenal impressed with another routine victory – we had a look at the five main talking points.
Dean breaks Hammers hearts
Defeats aren’t going to come more heart-breaking than that for West Ham this season.
The Hammers, who know a thing or two about coming back late on after two free-kicks from Katharina Baunach steered them to a 3-2 comeback win over Manchester United in December, thought they’d nicked a point from Spurs when Kenza Dali curled home on 90 minutes.
But Spurs’ never-say-die attitude shone through as Rianna Dean popped up in the seventh minute of stoppage-time to go back in front after Emma Mitchell had given Spurs the lead on her first start since signing on loan from Arsenal.
With the Hammers forced to cancel last weekend’s fixture against Everton after a flu outbreak in the squad, it seems luck just isn’t on their side so far in 2020.
Salmon strikes again but Chelsea survive
Conceding first at home is never in the script for Chelsea – but Emma Hayes’ Blues had no trouble in overcoming the scare.
When Ebony Salmon gave Bristol City a surprise lead at Kingsmeadow, some Chelsea fans may have been worried they were about to face the same fate as Manchester United, who were defeated 1-0 at the hands of the Robins last weekend courtesy of a Salmon strike.
But for the Blues, a comeback was clearly never in doubt as Bethany England (2), Ji So-Yun, Hannah Blundell and Jess Carter all got on the scoresheet to steer the hosts to a 6-1 victory.
If Chelsea’s firepower wasn’t scary enough, what’s even more threatening is that new signing Sam Kerr, who holds the all-time goal scoring records in both the Australian and American top divisions, only played the second half.
Bremer at the double as City begin Cushing farewell tour
The talking point of Saturday evening’s fixture was the imminent departure of Manchester City boss Nick Cushing, who announced he was leaving the Blues for pastures new as New York City FC assistant manager in February.
But if anyone was worried about how City will cope in the post-Cushing era, Saturday’s 3-1 win over Everton should be enough to calm the nerves.
They proved they can survive even with star striker Ellen White on the bench as Pauline Bremer struck twice for the second game running with Gemma Bonner adding a third to secure the win.
The only negative for City will be Georgia Stanway’s unfortunate 90th minute own goal but, sitting second in the table just three points behind Arsenal – Cushing couldn’t be leaving them in a much better place.
Arsenal’s midfield run riot
With 14 goals and eight assists to her name, it wouldn’t be silly to assume Arsenal would struggle without Vivianne Miedema hitting form.
But if Sunday’s 4-0 win over Brighton is anything to go by, the Gunners proved they have enough strength in depth that they don’t need to rely on her at all.
Their four goals in Crawley all came from midfield, Danielle van de Donk opening after three minutes before Jill Roord and Jordan Nobbs joined in on the fun, Beth Mead adding a late fourth on her return from injury to keep the Gunners three points clear at the top.
As if marking Miedema wasn’t enough to worry about?
📊 Our 2019/20 season so far...— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) January 12, 2020
1️⃣6️⃣ clean sheets
And we're only just getting started 👊 pic.twitter.com/HC7vwLOdG1
Eikeland’s lob lifts the Royals
Elsewhere, Amalie Eikeland’s lobbed finish was enough for Reading to claim a narrow win over struggling Birmingham.
The Norway forward’s cool first-half strike lifted the Royals up to fourth in the table, two points ahead of Manchester United whose fixture against Liverpool was postponed.
Having finished in fifth last year, fourth is a position Kelly Chamber’s side will be determined to keep hold of, whether high flyers Tottenham and Manchester United like it or not.