Six things to look out for

The WSL returns this weekend following the international break, as the women’s game attempts to capitalise on the gap in the English domestic footballing schedule created by the men’s World Cup.

A selection of games have been put on by clubs in their main stadiums, there’s a blockbuster clash between two WSL heavyweights, and two new managers attempt to put their stamp on teams.

Here’s everything to look out of in gameweek seven of the WSL.

Jess Park

Everton will be without Jess Park this weekend / Naomi Baker/GettyImages

Jess Park has been one of the standout performers for Everton this term and continued her flying 2022/23 campaign by scoring with the first touch of her senior England debut during the international break.

The forward is on loan at the Toffees from Manchester City and is therefore unavailable to play against her parent club on Saturday. It will be interesting to see how Everton adapt without one of their main attacking threats.

“It is [a setback] of course, but we knew that when we made the loan,” said Brian Sorensen. “So now it’s [an opportunity] for another to take a chance and show what they can do.”

City could be without an attacking threat of their own, with Lauren Hemp a doubt with a thigh injury.

Everton vs Man City

When is kick off? Saturday 19 November, 15:00 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Walton Hall Park
TV channel/live stream? Sky Sports Main Event/Football/Premier League (UK) FA Player (International)
What time does coverage start? 14:00 (GMT)
Referee? Emily Heaslip

Beth Mead, Katie McCabe

Arsenal are back at the Emirates on Saturday / Clive Rose/GettyImages

As Arsenal and Manchester United prepare to take to the pitch at the Emirates Stadium in front of tens of thousands of people, these kinds of occasions are increasingly the norm for the WSL.

Arsenal are top for now, but they will almost certainly be leapfrogged by at least Chelsea should they lose this one. United also cannot afford the mental blow of a second successive defeat to a main rival, having been their own worst enemy in a disappointing defeat to Chelsea last time out. They have the added threat of looking over their shoulder at an improving Manchester City too.

This is one of the biggest games of the season so far…and on the biggest stage.

Arsenal vs Man Utd

When is kick off? Saturday 19 November, 17:30 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Emirates Stadium
TV channel/live stream? Sky Sports Main Event/Football (UK), FA Player (international)
What time does coverage start? 17:15 (GMT)
Referee? Kirsty Dowle

Emma Hayes

Emma Hayes is set to return to the touchline for Chelsea / James Gill – Danehouse/GettyImages

Emma Hayes will return to the dugout for Chelsea’s clash with Tottenham on Sunday for the first time following her month-long break from football to recover from an emergency hysterectomy.

Denise Reddy and Paul Green guided the Blues to six wins from six in Hayes’ absence – and the Chelsea boss has chosen quite the occasion to make her touchline return.

Chelsea host Tottenham at Stamford Bridge, the first time a WSL match has been staged at the club’s main stadium since the opening day of the 2019/20 campaign, when Spurs were also the opponents.

The Blues announced on Monday that all general sale tickets for the clash have sold out, meaning the fixture should comfortably attract a record attendance for a Chelsea WSL fixture. The figure the club are vying to surpass is 24,564.

Chelsea vs Tottenham

When is kick off? Sunday 20 November, 13:00 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Stamford Bridge
TV channel/live stream? BBC One, BBC iPlayer (UK) FA Player (International)
What time does coverage start? 12:50 (GMT)
Referee? Rebecca Welch

Rachel Corsie, Kirsty Hanson

Aston Villa beat Manchester City last time out at Villa Park / Barrington Coombs/GettyImages

Aston Villa are also in action at the club’s main stadium this weekend as they welcome Reading to Villa Park – a venue which has been the scene of very recent success for Carla Ward’s side.

Villa recorded arguably the best WSL victory in the club’s history at Villa Park on the opening day of the 2022/23 campaign, registering a breathless 3-2 win over Manchester City.

“We love playing at Villa Park, it’s a great occasion, great stadium,” said Ward. “The last time we were there was unbelievable, so we want to try and replicate that and continue to get bums on seats.”

Aston Villa vs Reading

When is kick off? Sunday 20 November, 14:00 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Villa Park
TV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK, international)
Referee? Adam Herczeg

Hope Powell, Amy Merricks

Merricks is in interim charge of Brighton following Hope Powell’s departure / Bryn Lennon/GettyImages

Brighton were typically robust and well drilled under Hope Powell, capable of frustrating the WSL’s elite on their day but not renowned for their goal scoring prowess.

Following Powell’s resignation, Amy Merricks took interim charge, and oversaw a thrillingly chaotic 5-4 victory over West Ham in her first game in the hot seat.

Will we see a more measured performance from the Seagulls against Liverpool on Sunday, or is Brighton’s identity under Merricks going to be pure joyful chaos?

Brighton vs Liverpool

When is kick off? Sunday 20 November, 14:00 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Broadfield Stadium
TV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK, international)
Referee? Abigail Byrne

Willie Kirk

Kirk is the new Leicester boss / Paul Harding/GettyImages

It was announced that Willie Kirk would be replacing Lydia Bedford just three days before the Foxes took on Arsenal in what was then Kirk’s first game in charge.

The former Everton boss has now had a fortnight to work with his new side, and has emphasised the importance of upping the intensity in training as one of his first tweaks as Leicester manager.

Supporters may start to see the pieces of Kirk’s Foxes team beginning to fall into place against West Ham on Sunday as he attempts to lift his new side off the bottom of the WSL.

“We need to get points on the board as quickly as possible, and that is the single aim between now and Christmas,” Kirk said. “We know what points we want to achieve between now and the end of the season, we’ve chunked that into smaller chunks of games so we know exactly what we need to do between now and Christmas.”

West Ham vs Leicester

When is kick off? Sunday 20 November, 15:00 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Chigwell Construction Stadium
TV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK, international)
Referee? Louise Saunders