Vivianne Miedema strikes to sink Everton and get Arsenal back on track | Women’s Super League

It took a stunning strike from Dutch record goalscorer Vivianne Miedema to give the Gunners a narrow win at home to Everton, but the scoreline made the league meeting look far less comfortable than it ultimately was.

“I felt OK until the last five minutes,” said Arsenal’s manager, Jonas Eidevall. “I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t put the game to rest because we had chances to do it.”

Despite the utter dominance of the home team in this fixture, with the Gunners having won the past 13 games against Everton, scoring 36 and conceding six, number 14 (which would be the longest winning run of one team over another in the WSL) was not a foregone conclusion.

Everton are a renewed force under Brian Sørensen and while it is taking time to show in their results, the fledgling signs of growth are there.

Meanwhile, Arsenal fell to a first league defeat last time out in the WSL, losing 3-2 to Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium and ending an 18-game unbeaten run and 14-game winning streak.

“Winning is strong for the team,” said Eidevall when asked how important the result was. “We see a team here in an adverse moment that we are hopefully on the verge of turning around with players returning, but I think we have been managing a difficult period so far very well, and that’s important if you want to build a winning team.”

For Sørensen, it was a sign of growth that they held Arsenal to one goal for so long. “It’s probably where we are,” he said. “They are a really good team and we had a chance to go away with a point but we weren’t sharp enough.”

Against United the absence of Kim Little, who picked up an MCL injury in Arsenal’s defeat of West Ham in October, felt like one too many. She joined Lina Hurtig, Leah Williamson, Rafaelle Souza and Teyah Goldie in the treatment room, while Beth Mead ruptured her ACL in the team’s first loss of the season to join them.

It was a welcome sight for Arsenal fans then, to see influential centre-back duo Williamson and Souza back in the matchday squad for the visit of the Merseyside team, who themselves could recall Nicoline Sørensen to the squad for the first time since her ACL injury.

Arsenal’s Leah Williamson comes on as a substitute against Everton.
Arsenal’s Leah Williamson makes her return from injury, coming on as a substitute against Everton. Photograph: Bradley Collyer/PA

The Gunners dominated from the off, as they have so consistently this season, but they lacked bite up top, giving Everton hope when they got rare opportunities on the counterattack. The fluid formation of the Toffees would see them drop into a back five whenever Arsenal pushed towards the final third, meaning options were limited. Despite being in control, after 20 minutes each team only had one shot apiece, with neither on target.

It needed something special and then it happened. Miedema, making her first league start since Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat of Reading on 16 October, and having benefited from a rest over the international break, collected from Caitlin Foord who, with her back to goal, shielded the ball into the feet of the WSL record goalscorer. Miedema cut onto her right foot before lashing into the top far corner.

Arsenal should have doubled their lead in the second half, when goalkeeper Emily Ramsey, on loan from Manchester United, pulled off an impressive double save to deny Miedema before being beaten by a third consecutive effort only for a blue shirt to clear off the line.

With 20 minutes remaining Williamson would enter the fray in place of Jen Beattie and instantly blasted the ball clear to the delight of the home crowd.

Manchester United return to summit as Nikita Parris fires WSL win over Everton | Women’s Super League

Manchester United returned to the summit of the WSL table and continued their unbeaten run with victory over Everton at Walton Hall Park.

Nikita Parris’s first-half goal against her former club was added to by Leah Galton and Hayley Ladd in the second half as United increased their goal difference to 14.

After missing out on a place in the Champions League by a single point last season, United are on a mission fuelled by being so close to the next milestone for the club.

This term, everything is clicking for Marc Skinner’s team. Even without injured forward Alessia Russo, who returned to the bench for the trip to Everton, the United train is rolling freely.

The trip to in-form Everton began a run of tough games that will put the new hardier Red Devils to the test. Next weekend, United host Chelsea and then after the international break the team travels to north London to play Arsenal.

Their opponents at a windy and rain-swept Walton Hall Park have been transformed by manager Brian Sorensen. The Danish manager joined the Toffees from Fortuna Hjorring in the summer, replacing former Lyon manager Jean-Luc Vasseur.

Vasseur had presided over a poor 10th-place finish, five places below their 2020-21 tally, with the Blues taking five wins and 20 points from 22 games.

Skinner was full of praise for Sorensen’s impact, warning that United needed to be “very careful” in the way they approached them. “Brian [Sorensen] has come in and done an excellent job in terms of changing the style of play, they’re much more based with the ball, very good at moving it and finding pockets of space,” he said.

Despite the threat of the home side, it took 13 minutes for United to break through the organised back three of Katrine Veje, Rikke Sevecke and Megan Finnigan.

Goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan, returned to the starting XI with United loanee Emily Ramsey ineligible, rose with defender Finnigan and United Galton but it was the forward that got to it first, heading down into the run of Parris who fired into the empty net.

Everton’s Gabby George forced a smart save from England goalkeeper Mary Earps almost instantly but despite the home side matching the visiting team in the middle, they struggled to carve out chances against the United back line.

Leah Galton scores Manchester United’s second goal.
Leah Galton scores Manchester United’s second goal. Photograph: Cameron Smith/Getty Images

There were two changes for Everton at the break, with Chelsea loanee Aggie Beever-Jones and Sweden’s Hanna Bennison off for Katja Snoeijs and Izzy Christiansen.

Whether it was the changes disrupting their rhythm or not, the Blues were made to work hard after the break and as United put their foot on the gas, Everton seemed to ease off theirs.

In the 55th minute the visiting team were rewarded for a patient and organised performance. Galton wrong-footed Finnigan, and nutmegged Sevecke as she fired in past Brosnan.

The third was another quality strike, Hayley Ladd collecting from Lucia Garcia before powering in from the edge of the box.

It was comfortable for Skinner’s side in the end, with Everton playing the last nine minutes with 10 players after Veje was forced off with an injury, and there was time for Russo to make her return from injury with 71 minutes on the clock.

Everton’s Gabby George: ‘Jesse Lingard supports me a lot. We speak frequently’ | Everton Women

It is five years since Gabby George became Everton Women’s first full-time professional footballer but, sometimes, that watershed moment feels more like five decades ago.

“With everything that’s happened recently, 2017 seems like quite a long way in the past,” says a left-sided defender harbouring realistic hopes of inclusion in England’s Australia-bound 2023 World Cup squad. “But it was a dream come true. I remember getting a text from the club and, literally overnight, football became a job.”

George’s new contract also solved a practical problem for the then 20-year-old. “I literally have no clue what I’d have done if I hadn’t turned professional then,” she says. “Playing football was the only thing I wanted to do.”

That perspective changed in February 2020 when she ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament. There is never a good time to sustain a serious knee injury but, with the first Covid-induced lockdown beckoning, it proved a particularly bad moment.

George’s surgery was delayed for four long, and mentally extremely tough, months. “The delay was the worst part,” she says. “I wasn’t able to do anything.”

When, a couple of months after the operation, she was finally able to bend her knee sufficiently to walk up and down stairs unaided, she began realising the enforced rest had produced some unforeseen benefits.

“It was hard sitting in the stands and watching everyone play the game I love but, in a way, it was probably good for me,” she says. “I’d played almost every minute of every game since I was 16 and I think I’d played so much I was starting to lose my form. That time out and concentration on getting fully fit and focused was important; all the rehab meant that, when I came back into the team, I was in a good place.”

Gabby George of Everton fights for possession with Ève Périsset during Everton’s game at home to Chelsea this month.
Gabby George of Everton fights for possession with Ève Périsset during Everton’s game at home to Chelsea this month. Photograph: Emma Simpson/Everton FC/Getty Images

Throughout 12 months on the sidelines George could rely on the support of her cousin, Nottingham Forest’s former England and Manchester United attacking midfielder Jesse Lingard.

“I speak to Jesse frequently,” she says. “We don’t always talk about football though, we speak about life a lot. Jesse supports me a lot; he’s someone I can turn to and talk to on a different level to other family members because he understands exactly what being a footballer’s like.”

That ruptured ACL reminded her of her chosen career’s inherent fragility. “It’s why I’m studying accountancy in my free time now,” says George. “You asked me earlier what I’d have done if I hadn’t turned professional and I couldn’t tell you; football had been my life since I was nine. But, when I injured my knee, I realised how important it was to have something to fall back on. An injury like that’s a real eye opener – you start thinking: ‘What do I next?’ So I began the accountancy course and I’m enjoying it.

“I enjoy taking my mind away from the game. Before it was all football, football, football but I’ve realised it’s important to switch off from it sometimes and make your brain do something else. Without the knee injury, I’d never have done accountancy.”

George’s studies dictate that her life, on and off the pitch, is dominated by the detail that adorns balance sheets and the tactics board at the Finch Farm training base Brian Sørensen’s Everton share with Frank Lampard’s men.

“Brian’s very, very detailed so this season has been about getting used to that,” she says. “But I think, so far, we’re adapting quite well.”

It is Sørensen’s first campaign on Merseyside, where the Dane’s arrival has introduced the sort of stability notably lacking last season, when Willie Kirk’s time in charge ended last October, his successor Jean-Luc Vasseur departed in early February and Chris Roberts and Claire Ditchburn took joint interim control until the summer.

Now a relegation skirmish – Everton finished 10th in the 12-team WSL – has been replaced by a push for Europe with Sørensen’s side fourth, three points behind the joint leaders Arsenal and Manchester United.

Gabby George at the centre of Everton’s celebrations after their win over Liverpool at Anfield last month.
Gabby George at the centre of Everton’s celebrations after their win over Liverpool at Anfield last month. Photograph: Emma Simpson/Everton FC/Getty Images

A litmus test of the team’s potential – not to mention their new 3-4-3 formation – comes with Sunday’s home game against Marc Skinner’s Manchester United but George is quietly optimistic. “Last season wasn’t our best,” she acknowledges. “But Brian’s been a breath of fresh air. There’s times in football when you’re standing still as a player but he’s pushed us all forward.

“He’s brought in good people as well as good players and we’ve got a very good dressing room this season. Everyone speaks to everyone else and that’s key.”

Sørensen’s love of tactical nuance is matched only by his belief in bonding. “Brian really likes bringing us together so we went to Snowdonia in pre-season and we make sure we socialise a lot now,” says George. “We’ve got several foreign players and not everyone has family with them so it’s about making sure we’re all happy off the pitch. If people are unhappy they rarely play well.”

Unlike certain Premier League counterparts, Lampard is also doing his bit to foster togetherness by endeavouring to ensure that the men’s and women’s squads do some bonding of their own. “We had a joint pre-season barbecue for the men’s and women’s teams and our families and it was really good to all socialise together,” says George. “I think Frank’s trying his best to integrate us.”

Pernille Harder scores twice to give Chelsea Women victory at Everton | Women’s Super League

Two goals from Pernille Harder and a late strike from Niamh Charles secured Chelsea a 3-1 win in a tight contest with Everton.

There were touching scenes as the teams warmed up, with Chelsea players wearing shirts bearing the words “get well soon Emma” across the back in support of their absent manager, who is recovering from an emergency hysterectomy following her ongoing battle with endometriosis. Later, the men’s team also wore the message before their Premier League match against Aston Villa.

In Hayes’s place for the trip to Everton was her assistant Denise Reddy, who worked with Hayes at Chicago Red Stars before joining her at Chelsea in 2020 – although the general manager, Paul Green, had said Hayes would be glued to the TV and connected to the bench should she be feeling up to it.

Everton last beat Chelsea in the league in October 2013, with Chelsea having won seven and drawn one of the encounters since, scoring 19 and conceding none, but the Merseyside team are transformed this season under their Danish manager, Brian Sørensen, who left Fortuna Hjørring to join the Toffees.

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WSL roundup: United and Arsenal keep up perfect starts


Ella Toone [pictured] scored twice and provided an assist for Leah Galton’s goal as Manchester United swept aside Brighton with a 4-0 win to continue their perfect start to the season.

Marc Skinner’s side were rampant at their Leigh Sports Village home, with Toone’s double and Galton’s strike all coming in the first half and summer signing Adriana Leon adding to the tally in the second. United stay top of the WSL table on nine points, with 10 goals scored and none conceded in three games.

Arsenal kept pace at the top with their third win from three, behind United by a single goal after a 1-0 victory at Reading. Stina Blackstenius fired a low shot beyond Jackie Burns after half an hour, but the keeper then saved Kim Little’s penalty on the hour mark.

Reading had late chances to grab a draw, with Lily Woodham’s corner hitting the post before Natasha Dowie was denied by a fine reaction save from Manuela Zinsberger 10 minutes from time. The Gunners keeper kept a record eighth straight clean sheet as her team held on.

Two goals from Bunny Shaw, one from Lauren Hemp and a late strike from new recruit Yui Hasegawa gave Manchester City their first points of the season with a 4-0 win over bottom-placed Leicester. Gareth Taylor’s side now have a chance to rebound from their poor start; they do not face any of the current top three until the Manchester derby on 11 December.

Tottenham clung on to a narrow 1-0 lead and held off a resurgent Liverpool performance in the second half to take all three points at Brisbane Road. Celin Bizet’s cross deflected in off Liverpool’s Niamh Fahey at the near post after 11 minutes, but manager Rehanne Skinner will be concerned after her side failed to build on a dominant start. Suzanne Wrack

Photograph: Ed Sykes/X03816

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Back-to-back wins, beating Liverpool 3-0 in the Merseyside derby and Leicester 1-0, followed an opening-day defeat against West Ham after a string of pre-season losses as the team got to grips with the new manager’s plan.

At Walton Hall Park, a sold-out with 1,668 fans, a club-record crowd at the ground, against the champions, the home team started brightly. The wing-back Lucy Graham, the Manchester City loanee Jess Park and Sweden’s Hanna Bennison were particularly effective.

Chelsea’s Niamh Charles scores their side’s third goal of the game during the Barclays Women’s Super League match at Walton Hall Park, Liverpool.
Niamh Charles seals the points with a third goal for Chelsea in injury time. Photograph: Isaac Parkin/PA

Chelsea meanwhile threatened consistently down the left-hand side and in the 38th minute they made the breakthrough down that flank, with Guro Reiten’s cross headed powerfully past the goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan by Harder.

Unperturbed, in the second half the Everton players were rewarded for their labours. Megan Finnigan’s free-kick found Gabby George, the wing-back forced a save from Ann-Katrin Berger, but the ball hit the centre-back Kadeisha Buchanan and went in.

It took just five minutes for Chelsea to regain their lead, with Brosnan penalised for bringing down Reiten and Harder converting from the spot. Substitute Charles scored a third in added time, dancing clear of three Everton defenders before firing coolly past Brosnan.

Women’s Super League: talking points from the weekend’s action | Women’s Super League

Arsenal will not get carried away by derby drubbing

Two games into a new season is no time to try to determine the destination of the Women’s Super League title or who is on track for a Champions League spot. Arsenal will be aware of this and the need to take things game by game having begun last season with a 3-2 win over Chelsea before being pipped to the title by the same team by a single point. So while Arsenal’s 4-0 defeat of Tottenham on Saturday was comprehensive and slick, Jonas Eidevall and his team will not get carried away, especially given how poor the visitors were in front of a record WSL crowd of 47,367. “We didn’t play our game as well as we could have,” said Tottenham’s head coach, Rehanne Skinner. “We were too tentative in the press and that created challenges for us on the ball.” Suzanne Wrack

Villa’s signings give them a new lease of life

Aston Villa’s 2-0 victory at Leicester on Sunday was a history-making moment for the club given it secured them back-to-back wins in the WSL for the first time. New signings have revitalised Carla Ward’s team, none more so than Rachel Daly, whose early penalty was her third goal of the season as she continues to build on her excellent performances for England at the European Championship. Emily Gielnik struck four minutes from time to extinguish any chance of a Leicester comeback. Eight points separated these two sides last year and while the Foxes have lingering defensive issues, Villa march onwards and upwards with a squad that looks ready to take on anyone. Renuka Odedra

United finally look ready for Champions League fight

Manchester United have some heavyweight names in their squad, such as Ella Toone, Katie Zelem and Alessia Russo, but it was two lesser-profile players who shone in their 2-0 victory over West Ham on Sunday. Lucia García, who joined United from Athletic Bilbao in the summer, and Hannah Blundell scored their first goals for the club, highlighting the strength in depth United now have, and especially from a goalscoring point-of-view. It’s a trait that might allow Marc Skinner’s side to break the stronghold of Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal and secure a Champions League place this season. RO

Positives for City but Taylor’s troops still look aimless

Gareth Taylor was pointed in his comments after Manchester City’s 2-0 defeat by Chelsea. “Players make mistakes, everyone makes mistakes, and we’ve got to be super-careful that we’re not jumping on it,” he said. “I saw more positive things from the team and I’ve fed that back to them.” He is not wrong, there were positives on Sunday, especially in their first-half performance. However, the visitors struggled for a reaction after conceding the first goal of the game and it quickly became Chelsea’s to lose rather than City’s to win. The big concern for last season’s third-placed side is that they look aimless – either the plan is wrong or it’s not being executed properly. SW

Reading raging again after another controversial call

“If this [officiating] is not addressed, it’s going to start costing managers jobs,” said a furious Kelly Chambers after Reading suffered a 2-1 defeat at Brighton. It was the second week in a row Reading came away from a game feeling hard done by the officials. The controversy in question occurred half an hour into Sunday’s contest, when Deanna Cooper rose to head in a clever free-kick. The assistant’s flag went up, but replays showed the defender was onside. Brighton then took the lead through Lee Geum-min and while Reading dominated the second half they were ultimately left to rue their wastefulness in front of goal, as well as the assistant’s flag. Sophie Downey

“If officials don’t begin to improve, it’s going to stop the growth of our game and Manager’s will begin to get the sack.”

See the full interview with Kelly Chambers 👇

— Reading FC Women (@ReadingFCWomen) September 25, 2022

Park takes pride of place in Everton’s storming of Anfield

Everton’s summer of change involved a new manager, the exit of nine senior players, five permanent signings and loan deals for several young players including Manchester City’s Jess Park, Chelsea’s Aggie Beever-Jones and Arsenal’s Gio Queiroz. The loan strategy was deliberate, offering valuable playing time to developing players who may need to be patient elsewhere, and paid dividends at Anfield where 20-year-old Park excelled in the 3-0 victory over Liverpool. Brian Sorensen, savouring his first win as Everton manager, said: “When I first talked to the club I had some targets. I wanted young English players like Jess Park and Aggie Beever-Jones and we were lucky to get them. I am so happy for Jess. The way she performed was top.” Andy Hunter