6 things to look out for

We’ve reached the halfway mark in the WSL, with the title race and Champions League battle shaping up nicely, while last weekend’s results mean we might even have a relegation scrap on our hands.

Gameweek 11 sees the reverse fixtures from what ended up being the opening weekend of action take place – and what an opening weekend it was.

But can this weekend live up to drama of the opening day?

Here’s everything to look out for in gameweek 11 of the WSL.

Rachel Corsie, Kirsty Hanson

Villa beat City on the opening day of the WSL season / Barrington Coombs/GettyImages

Aston Villa and Manchester City played out one of the games of the season when they met at Villa Park on the opening day of the 2022/23 campaign, with a formerly goal-shy Villa reaping the benefits of new attacking recruits Rachel Daly, Kirsty Hanson and Kenza Dali as they ran out 4-3 winners.

Carla Ward’s side had led 2-0 and then trailed 3-2 in a breathless encounter, before goals from Dali and Daly secured a surprise three points for Villa – their first ever WSL victory over one of the league’s ‘big four’.

“That day I was emotionally drained on 90 minutes,” said Ward. “It was an unbelievable game of football that I’ve watched back a few times. I think [Saturday] will be very different. Manchester City have progressed massively, as have we.”

Manchester City vs Aston Villa

When is kick off? Saturday 21 January, 11:30 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Academy Stadium
TV channel/live stream? Sky Sports Premier League (UK), FA Player (International)
What time does coverage start in the UK? 11:00 (GMT)
Referee? Cheryl Foster

Katie Stengel, Taylor Hinds

Liverpool recorded a surprise win over Chelsea in the pair’s last meeting / Lewis Storey/GettyImages

Liverpool stunned reigning champions Chelsea on the opening day of the campaign, with a pair of Katie Stengel penalties seeing the newly promoted Reds to a shock 2-1 victory.

The pair have experienced differing fortunes since, with Chelsea winning nine from 10 and Liverpool winning just one from eight. Chelsea have never lost at home in the WSL to a newly promoted side, with the only top flight newbies to take points off the Blues at Kingsmeadow being West Ham in 2018 – a side managed by Liverpool boss Matt Beard.

“We just need to respond after Sunday (losing 6-0 to Manchester United),” said Beard. “Chelsea have gone on a good run, had a great Champions League campaign as well. We’ve played them once, we’ve beaten them once, so we can take confidence from that day. But we need to make sure we give a good account of ourselves on Sunday.”

Chelsea vs Liverpool

When is kick off? Sunday 22 January 12:30 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Kingsmeadow
TV channel/live stream? BBC Two/BBC iPlayer/BBC Sport website (UK), Paramount+ (USA), FA Player (international)
What time does coverage start? 12:15
Referee? Paul Howard

West Ham United v Everton FC - Barclays Women's Super League

Everton and West Ham met on the first day of the season / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

Everton and West Ham both went into the 2022/23 campaign with new managers in the dugout in the shape of Brian Sorensen and Paul Konchesky. The pair have taken quickly to life in the top flight, with their sides level on points in fifth and sixth respectively after both picked up five wins in the first half of the season.

Neither Sorensen nor Konchesky had managed in the WSL prior to this term – Konchesky had been former Hammers’ boss Olli Harder’s assistant coach, while Sorensen had exclusively worked in his native Denmark.

Both made their WSL managerial debuts against one another in the reverse fixture in September, with West Ham winning 1-0. The Hammers are attempting to complete a WSL double over Everton for the very first time.

“I think both teams have evolved over the season,” said Sorensen. “The style of play that we have, everybody is more on board with it now. Offensively it’s getting much better, creating many more opportunities. I think West Ham has a little different approach – more ruthless in the way they look at things. For us it’s about: can we keep the momentum?”

Everton vs West Ham

When is kick off? Sunday 22 January 13:00 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Walton Hall Park
TV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK & International)
Referee? Tom Nield

Mary Earps

Mary Earps has already kept 7 WSL clean sheets this season / Jan Kruger/GettyImages

Mary Earps will become the first goalkeeper in WSL history to reach 50 clean sheets if Manchester United are able to stop Reading from finding the net on Sunday.

United are yet to concede a single league goal against anyone other than last season’s top three and Earps’ seven clean sheets in 10 games so far is the leading mark at this stage of the campaign.

The 29-year-old has been around the WSL since day one when the competition began in 2011 and has always been highly regarded. But it is in the last 18 months in particular that she has reached new levels, firmly establishing herself as world class – as underlined by her recent nomination for The Best FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper award for 2022.

Earps deserves tremendous credit for United’s outstanding defensive record this season – currently tied with Arsenal as best in the WSL – having made several top saves throughout the course of the campaign on the few occasions that the back four in front of her has been breached.

“She is laser focus,” United boss Marc Skinner said earlier this season. “Her athleticism, her focus…just that rock behind us. You notice in games, our keepers don’t do much, but when they do we need them to come big because every team will have a moment in a game.”

Reading vs Man Utd

When is kick off? Sunday 22 January, 14:00 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Madejski Stadium
TV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK & International)
Referee? Richie Watkins

Willie Kirk

Kirk secured his first WSL win as Leicester boss against Brighton / Paul Harding/GettyImages

Leicester secured their first WSL points of the season at the 10th time of asking against Brighton last weekend, running out 3-0 winners to potentially leave us with a real relegation battle on our hands.

The result leaves the Foxes just four points behind Brighton and Reading, and victory over an out of form Spurs – in the midst of a club record WSL losing streak of five on the bounce – on Sunday could leave Willie Kirk’s side within touching distance of safety.

“It would be huge,” Kirk said on the prospect of consecutive league victories. “It would make a few other teams really uncomfortable if we were to pick up back-to-back wins and as much as our focus is on us, the reality of the situation is we want as many people dragged into that as possible. We know that if we can win on Sunday it can drag another team into that relegation battle.”

Tottenham vs Leicester

When is kick off? Sunday 22 January 14:00 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Brisbane Road
TV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK & International)
Referee? Stacey Pearson

Victoria Pelova

Victoria Pelova is one of three new Arsenal signings / BSR Agency/GettyImages

Arsenal have had one of the WSL’s most exciting transfer windows, bringing in midfielders Victoria Pelova and Kathrine Kulh, as well as goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo.

Pelova is already a seasoned Netherlands international at the age of 23 and impressed against Arsenal for Ajax in the Champions League qualifiers at the beginning of the season, while Kuhl is a highly-rated teenage talent who particularly caught the eye in Denmark’s narrow Euro 2022 group stage defeat to Spain.

All three were unused substitutes against Chelsea – Eidevall citing lack of training time since signing as a major factor – but could experience their first taste of WSL football against Brighton on Sunday.

“The way it works with registration and working permits and so on, these players have not had a lot of training with us,” Eidevall said post-Chelsea. “These players were only able to be registered here almost as a last minute thing for the game. It’s always easy to be thinking about the game in retrospect but I thought we had control of the game and I didn’t think there was any need to change.”

Brighton vs Arsenal

When is kick off? Sunday 22 December, 18:45 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Broadfield Stadium
TV channel/live stream? Sky Sports Football/Premier League (UK), Paramount+ (USA), FA Player (International)
What time does coverage start in the UK? 18:30 (GMT)
Referee? Amy Fearn