Women’s Super League: Five talking points as Arsenal face Man City and Chelsea eye top spot

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By todaybreakingnews.org

Manchester City forward Chloe Kelly celebrates a goal
Just one of the 19 previous WSL matches between Arsenal and Manchester City has ended in a draw
Venue: Meadow Park, Borehamwood Date: Sunday, 5 October Time: 12:30 BST
Coverage: Watch live on BBC Two, BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport website & app; live text commentary on BBC Sport website & app

The Women’s Super League returns after the international break and though we may only be in November there could be big swings in the title race this weekend.

Arsenal host leaders Manchester City on Sunday, while second-placed Chelsea will end Saturday top if they avoid defeat to Aston Villa.

Elsewhere, in-form Tottenham face Everton, West Ham take on winless Bristol City and Manchester United travel to Brighton.

Here are five key talking points before the weekend’s games.

Leaders Man City travel to Arsenal

WSL table
Manchester City and Chelsea lead the way in the WSL

Manchester City are unbeaten at the top of the WSL table, three points clear of Sunday’s opponents Arsenal in seventh.

Both would expect to be title challengers come the end of the season, but for the Gunners a defeat on Sunday would leave them six points off the pace, with trophy hopes already seriously dented.

In previous seasons the matches between the top four sides have proved crucial to the destination of the title, with the past three WSL title races being decided by two points or fewer.

Yet it is not all gloomy for Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall, who has recently welcomed back long-term injury victims Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema, and their pitch time could increase this weekend.

City might be knocked off top spot by Chelsea before they even take to the field on Sunday. Defending champions Chelsea are level on points with City and face Aston Villa on Saturday (12:30 GMT).

Aston Villa and Bristol City target first wins

Aston Villa and promoted Bristol City are the only two sides who have yet to pick up a point four games into the season.

Villa, who finished fifth last term, were expected to push for a top-four place. Instead they are languishing at the foot of the table, only ahead of bottom club Bristol City on goal difference.

“I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that we will see a reaction,” said Villa manager Carla Ward.

To be fair to Ward’s side, Villa have been on the end of some cruel late drama, conceding injury-time winners to Arsenal and Manchester United and taking the lead in three of their past four matches.

Still, a match with Chelsea on Saturday could mean their pointless run extends another week.

Meanwhile, Bristol City fell to a 2-1 home defeat by Arsenal last time out, and they travel to West Ham on Sunday (15:00 GMT).

Will Thomas strike again for Spurs?

Striker Martha Thomas would not be the name many would have predicted to top the WSL scoring charts, but she has had a prolific start to life at Tottenham. Since joining from Manchester United in September, Thomas has managed six goals in four matches.

Last time out she scored a superb hat-trick in Spurs’ 4-2 win at Aston Villa, netting her first with a cheeky chipped effort.

Thomas is averaging a goal every 59.6 minutes in the league and has also accumulated the division’s highest expected goals total with 2.62.

“I don’t think she’s done yet,” said Tottenham boss Robert Vilahamn. “I think she’ll continue scoring goals and winning games for Tottenham.”

Thomas has a chance to add to her tally when Spurs host Everton on Sunday (14:00 GMT), facing a side who have lost three of their four WSL matches this term.

Can Foxes continue to be season’s surprise

Leicester players and coaches in a post-match huddle
After winning just one of their previous 14 WSL matches on the road (L13), Leicester are unbeaten in their past three away games (W2 D1)

Even after losing to Manchester City last time out, Leicester City find themselves just three points off top spot after a brilliant start to the season.

Leicester lost their opening nine matches last season, entered the winter break without a point to their name, and were deep in a relegation battle.

Four games into the 2023-24 campaign and the Foxes have picked up seven points – a total they did not reach until their 14th game last season.

They will be hoping to return to winning ways against Liverpool this weekend. Without the six points they collected against the Reds last term, the Foxes would have gone down.

Liverpool have never beaten Willie Kirk’s side in the WSL, with the Foxes hoping to win a third match in a row against their opponents on Sunday (14:00 GMT).

Toone looking to end goal drought

England midfielder Ella Toone
England midfielder Ella Toone has not scored a WSL goal for 11 months

Manchester United midfielder Ella Toone will hope to turn her poor scoring form around when Marc Skinner’s side travel to Brighton in Sunday’s final fixture (18:30 GMT).

United’s record goalscorer and appearance maker last netted for the club in a 3-2 WSL win over Arsenal way back in November 2022.

Over the past year the 24-year-old has looked short on confidence, and she was unable to make an impact as a second-half substitute in England’s loss to Belgium this week.

“It will only be a matter of time before she assists or scores, I can guarantee that,” said United boss Skinner, adding: “When you’re so good at something, people try and stop that.”

United’s last two matches against Brighton have brought them 4-0 wins. This game could be the perfect chance for Toone to get back among the goals.

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