Sport Editor Lucy Blitz takes a look at five of the most intriguing WSL fixtures taking place in an action-packed December
As the Women’s Super League edges closer to its Christmas break, all 12 teams will face two final match days ahead of a month-long pause in fixtures. While some come up against a gentle stream of opponents, others will have little to be jolly about as they face a tough run of gruelling fixtures. Here are five matches to watch as each team looks to finish the year in style.
Arsenal vs Chelsea, Sunday 10th December, 12.30pm
One of the biggest clashes in the WSL calendar, four-time champions Chelsea will travel across the capital to the Emirates looking for a repeat of last season’s 2-0 victory at Kingsmeadow. Of the 38 previous meetings between the two, the Blues have won 18 times compared to 13 victories for the Gunners.
With the news of Emma Hayes’ upcoming departure from the club next May, Chelsea will be determined to give their manager a fitting farewell with a fifth WSL trophy to add to her collection – and another London derby win among her impressive list of accolades would be a sweet addition.
Arsenal will take much confidence from their grand stage in Holloway, along with reinforcements of Beth Mead and Vivienne Miedema who were both absent from the most recent showdown due to injuries. As Steph Cately and Caitlin Foord face Aussie teammate Sam Kerr, they’ll be hoping to pull one over on the Blues star striker.
Spurs vs Man Utd, Sunday 10th December, 6.45pm
Spurs new golden girl Martha Thomas will come up against her former team at Brisbane Road as the Lilywhites look to snatch their first ever victory against the Reds. Forward Thomas, who made the move from Manchester to London over the summer, has enjoyed a sensational start to life in the capital, grabbing October’s Player of the Month award after six goals in five games.
Spurs have triumphed in the fresh campaign under manager Robert Vilahamn but are in for a testing build-up to the Christmas break as they face three of last season’s top four including a north London derby. Having already exceeded their 22/23 total at the time of the month-long pause, Vilahamn recently admitted that “the next run of games will be tough, so we will know by Christmas if we can compete with the top teams.”
For Man United, they’ll be hoping to mirror their most recent run in with the Lilywhites, which saw the Reds put three past Spurs at Leigh Sports Village. In the absence of Alessia Russo, they’ll be counting on the likes of the ever-reliable Rachel Williams and Ella Toone to see them over the line.
Spurs vs Arsenal, Saturday 16th December, 12pm
Vilahamn’s side will run out at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the first time this season in the hopes of ending a miserable run of encounters with their London neighbours. With their last three meetings all resulting in maximum points for the Gunners, Spurs await the return of Lioness Bethany England in search of some much-needed inspiration.
Arsenal will face their rivals in the absence of Leah Williamson and Laura Wienroither, who are both facing an extended period on the side-lines following last season’s ACL crisis. Yet even with a somewhat shaky backline, the Gunners will put their trust in forward Foord, whose record in the north London derby is nothing short of spectacular. The Australian international has six goals and two assists in just five WSL starts against Spurs, making her an incredibly feared talent for the Tottenham back line.
Leicester City vs West Ham, Sunday 17th December, 3pm
With the Foxes meteoric start to the 23/24 WSL season, a clash with the Hammers is anything but certain. While Rehanne Skinner’s side have won three out of four previous matches with Leicester, they themselves are yet to make a mark on the new campaign and ended October with just four points from a possible 12.
For Leicester, last season’s battle with relegation looks to be a distant memory, as Willie Kirk’s side have already registered two victories as well as a confident draw with title-challengers Man United. With Jutta Rantala and Lena Petermann collecting four goals between them, the Foxes will trust the pair of forwards to deliver once again for a side who look to have been transformed.
Of course, not all hope is lost for the Hammers, as new signing Riko Ueki has bagged three goals of her own in five appearances since arriving to London. Kirk’s side will benefit from a home advantage, but this match-up could bring even more twists and turns to an already enthralling season.
Aston Villa vs Brighton, Sunday 17th December, 6.45pm
In what will be the final fixture this side of the Christmas break, the Seagulls will travel to Bescot Stadium for one of the most evenly matched meetings across the top-flight. Since 2020, both Villa and Brighton have won three times each, with only one draw registered earlier this year.
As Villa seek a change of fortunes following their poor start to a new season, Carla Ward will hope that midfielder Jordan Nobbs can produce another breath-taking performance to go alongside her hat-trick in Villa’s most recent meeting with Brighton – as the team registered a huge six goals compared to the Seagulls’ two.
Ward’s side desperately need a positive run of results if the manager is to remain in charge and the team are to keep their position in the WSL. They will have to navigate the mighty Elisabeth Terland in their search, however, as the striker has her sights firmly set on this year’s Golden Boot.
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