With a break in the fixture calendar originally scheduled for this weekend, Saturday and Sunday sees four rearranged WSL matches take place – and what a four fixtures they are.
There’s a blockbuster clash between two of the league’s big four, a meeting at a main stadium with big ramifications for the title race, and an important encounter towards the lower echelons of the WSL.
Here’s everything to look out for this weekend in the WSL.
Arsenal progressed to the Continental Cup final at Man City’s expense on Wednesday, but City have the opportunity to avenge that defeat less than 72 hours later when the pair meet in the WSL on Saturday.
An extra time Stina Blackstenius goal was all there was to separate the two sides, with Jonas Eidevall setting Arsenal up in a back five for the first time in his tenure to deal with the strength City possess down either flank. Will he stick or twist on Saturday?
“I don’t know yet what we are going to do so it is going to be a good guessing game for them!” Eidevall said on Wednesday evening. “That is part of the reason why I think it is important to have two different systems to make it harder for opponents to prepare for us. But now recovery is going to be a big part of how we prepare for this game.”
Manchester City vs Arsenal
The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will play host to a WSL match for the first time this season when Spurs welcome Manchester United to the club’s main stadium.
Rehanne Skinner’s side finished their 2021/22 campaign at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but the ground’s most memorable WSL moment was the 2019 north London derby. A crowd of 38,262 turned out for the occasion, creating an electric atmosphere and breaking the WSL attendance record – a record which stood for nearly three years.
Spurs have made improvements since the winter break and are on the hunt for their first WSL win since October. Second place United are the visitors on Sunday, a side looking to bounce back from their dropped points against Everton last time out.
“We’re looking forward to every game at the moment and being in the stadium, for a game that has been rescheduled, we’ve been looking forward to this for quite a while,” said Skinner. “The players are excited, we’re really looking forward to having the fans there and it’s just a really good event.”
Tottenham vs Man Utd
It’s not quite the second time in 72 hours, but Aston Villa and Brighton go head to head for the second time in as many weekends when they meet on Sunday.
The pair played out a 1-1 draw at the Bescot Stadium last Saturday, with a Kayleigh Green own goal giving Villa a first half lead, before a mix up at the back resulted in Julia Zigiotti Olme levelled the scores with 15 minutes remaining.
With this fixture originally scheduled for the subsequently postponed opening weekend of the WSL, it’s time for round two on Sunday.
“It’s never easy, but I’m delighted because we’ve picked the bones out of [last weekend] every day,” said Carla Ward. “We’ve looked at where we weren’t good enough. This time around it’s an opportunity for the players to put the performance right.”
Brighton vs Aston Villa
Liverpool secured their first win since the opening weekend of December last time out against Reading to lift themselves into eighth. With just a point separating the Reds from Reading before kick off, it was an important victory for Matt Beard’s side.
Beat Leicester this weekend and Liverpool will comfortably sit mid-table, 11 points clear of Sunday’s opponents in the drop zone. Should they lose to the Foxes, that gap will be just five points, and with Willie Kirk’s side looking much improved since their return from the winter break, the Reds could find themselves embroiled in a relegation battle during the second half of the season.
“Leicester have definitely improved as a team,” said Beard. “I watched their game against Manchester City and they have improved the team. They are very organised out of possession, Willie has got his way of playing and they like to play out from the back, so you can definitely see his mark on that team now.
“So, it’s going to be a fascinating second half of the season. Obviously we are in that mix and you’ve also got Brighton and Reading, so it will be an interesting second half of the season.”