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Chelsea shock Arsenal and Liverpool pick up maiden victory – FA WSL round-up

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Chelsea stunned league leaders Arsenal with a 4-1 triumph to narrow the gap at the top of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League table on a fascinating Sunday of action.

Emma Hayes’ side now sit just a point adrift of, and with a game in hand on, new table-toppers Manchester City, who won 2-0 against Birmingham City and usurped Arsenal’s position at the summit following Chelsea’s emphatic result at Meadow Park.

Blues make a statement

New signing Sam Kerr notched her maiden Chelsea goal in a first-half blitz that saw Joe Montemurro’s side concede three in the opening 20 minutes, with Beth England, Sophie Ingle and Guro Reiten also scoring to inflict a first home defeat of the season on Arsenal.

Beth Mead scored a late consolation for the Gunners but it was all Chelsea in Borehamwood, who are now poised to leapfrog both Arsenal and City owing to their game in hand.

The visitors got the ball rolling through England’s stunning strike after just ten minutes, doubling their advantage after Kerr’s header and completing the early ambush when Ingle struck a superb 20-yard volley into the corner.

Reiten continued the rout with a glancing header in the second half, before Ann Katrin-Berger spilt Mead’s header over the line to finally allow the reigning champions to get on the scoresheet.

The result marked an appreciable power shift at the top of the FA WSL table, with Arsenal now lying second following City’s win in the Midlands and Chelsea in third ready to pounce, having played 12 games compared to their rivals’ 13.

City ease past Blues to seize top spot

Nick Cushing may be leaving Manchester City in February but he is determined to go out on a high, as his players eased past Birmingham 2-0 to capitalise on Arsenal’s disintegration on home soil.

England striker Ellen White set the tone with her strike after just 34 seconds, predatorially getting on the end of Jill Scott’s pass to give the visitors the lead.

And midfielder Keira Walsh made it two just after the hour mark, as Scott once again was provider for the 22-year-old to fire home from the edge of the area.

Liverpool triumph in battle at the bottom

The dynamic at the bottom of the table also changed on what was a scintillating Sunday of action, as Vicky Jepson’s Liverpool picked up their maiden win of the season to move ahead of relegation rivals Bristol City.

Rachel Furness was the visitors’ savour in the West Country, notching her first Liverpool goal after instinctively pouncing on Melissa Lawley’s parried shot.

The Reds now sit just outside the league’s solitary relegation place on goal difference, level on six points with Tanya Oxtoby’s team who have mustered just one league win all season themselves.

Red Devils win in duel of the newcomers

Manchester United and Tottenham may have been playing their football in the FA Women’s Championship last season but they were duking it out in FA WSL action on Sunday, with Casey Stoney’s Red Devils running home 3-0 winners.

A Katie Zelem double and a Jess Sigsworth effort proved too much for the visitors to handle at Leigh Sports Village, with United’s only regret being substitute Ella Toone’s stoppage-time dismissal after a late scuffle.

United are now fourth in the table on 18 points, level with Everton and 14 adrift of Chelsea in third.

Toffees enjoy sweet Sunday feeling

Chloe Kelly fired a clinical hat-trick as Everton moved ahead of Reading into fifth position.

Willie Kirk’s side had previously gone three games without a win but showed no signs of lacking confidence on Merseyside, as Kelly’s 11th, 59th and 65th-minute strikes – the second of those direct from a corner – extinguished the Royals’ hopes of extending their lead over their opponents in the table.

United and Everton now set the pace in the mid-table pack, with Kirk’s players travelling to Brighton in two weeks hoping to build valuable momentum heading into the business end of the season.

Lehmann inflicts Hammer blow on Brighton

Alisha Lehmann scored a late double to turn the tables and inflict away day misery on Brighton in east London.

Danique Kerkdijk had initially given Hope Powell’s side the lead in the 23rd minute after a frenetic goalmouth scramble, before the Switzerland star popped up in the 79th and 83rd minutes for the hosts to deliver a fatal blow to Brighton’s chances of overtaking the Hammers in the table.

West Ham now sit four points ahead of the Seasiders in eighth position, with Brighton lingering just three points clear of the relegation zone after Liverpool’s seismic win at Bristol City.

To follow the action, buy tickets and sign-up for The FA Player’s live Barclays FA Women’s Super League coverage visit womenscompetitions.thefa.com

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Arsenal FC

Chelsea star steals the show, Everton's hat-trick hero, Liverpool's matchwinner – three standout stars from the FAWSL weekend

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What an eventful day at both ends of the Barclay’s FA Women’s Super League table Sunday was. We have new leaders and a new team propping up the table after some crucial results this weekend.

Chelsea came flying out the blocks in their top-of-the-table clash with Arsenal, taking a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes before going on to beat their title rivals 4-1.

Manchester City now lead the way on goal difference, after a routine 2-0 victory over Birmingham, with Ellen White netting after just 34 seconds.

Everton beat Reading 3-1, while Merseyside neighbours Liverpool recorded their first league victory of the season against Bristol City, who replace them at the foot of the table after their 1-0 defeat.

Katie Zelem’s brace helped Manchester United defeat Tottenham 3-0, while a late Alisha Lehmann brace saw West Ham take the points in a 2-1 victory over Brighton.

Here are the top three performers of the weekend

Sophie Ingle

In truth, this could have gone to any of the Chelsea team on Sunday, as the Blues romped to a 4-1 victory at Meadow Park to continue their unbeaten run and blow the title race wide open.

Beth England did what Beth England does, Sam Kerr opened her account in the FA WSL, but it was Ingle who stole the show in North London with a third goal right out of the top drawer.

As the Gunners headed a ball into the box away, it seemed to sit up perfectly for the 28-year-old, who returned it with interest as it rifled into the top corner past a helpless Manuela Zinsberger.

That was the cherry on the cake for Emma Hayes’ side, as they blew the table-toppers away within the first 20 minutes to close the gap at the top to just a single point, with a game in hand.

That moment of magic is added to an ever-growing list for Ingle, after a brilliant finish against West Ham earlier in the season, as well as a delicious lobbed volley for Wales against Israel back in August.

With momentum now firmly behind the Blues after that impressive away victory, they have all the makings of a championship-winning side as we head into the run-in.

Chloe Kelly

What a weekend for Chloe Kelly, who became the first Everton player to score a league hat-trick since Toni Duggan in 2013.

The 22-year-old now has eight league goals this season, putting her among the top scorers in the FA WSL this campaign, and she certainly left her mark on Sunday’s clash with Reading.

Her first showed great composure after being played clean through on goal. As Rachael Laws came rushing out to narrow the angle, Kelly kept her cool and slipped the ball past her to open the scoring for the Toffees.

After doubling the advantage direct from a corner some people may say she didn’t mean her second goal, but you never know with her at the moment, as her whipped delivery deceived everyone to nestle in the net.

The striker then made sure of taking the match-ball home just after the hour mark, as she escaped her marker with a crafty near-post run and secured the three points for Everton and three goals for herself.

Anke Preuß

It may have taken 12 games, and they may have only scored four goals in that time, but Liverpool finally have a first WSL victory of the season, and they have no one more than Anke Preuß to thank for it.

After Rachel Furness put the Reds ahead early on against Bristol City, the home side threw everything to try and find an equaliser, but they found the German shot-stopper in imperious form.

The Robins couldn’t even get past the 27-year-old from the spot, as she repelled Charlie Wellings from 12 yards, before batting away the follow-up from Poppy Pattinson.

After sitting the last three league matches out, Preuß returned to the starting line-up and secured a first league clean sheet of the season for Vicky Jepson’s side with another late block to deny Megan Wynne.

Liverpool now sit ahead of City on goal difference, and if they continue to keep it tight at the back, they will be in good shape to survive the drop come the end of the season.

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Arsenal FC

Chelsea claim advantage in title race, Manchester United beat Tottenham Hotspur

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Chelsea secured a vital advantage in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League title race with a dominant win over league leaders Arsenal at Meadow Park.

Sam Kerr scored her first goal since joining the club, while Beth England and Sophie Ingle both netted wonder strikes, leaving Arsenal’s perfect home record in tatters inside 20 minutes.

Guro Reiten added a fourth before Beth Mead netted a consolation goal for the Gunners.

Chelsea were dominant throughout, and opened the scoring after just ten minutes through England’s moment of magic.

The Chelsea striker pulled out to the right, cut inside Louise Quinn and curled a beauty past Manuela Zinsberger from the corner of the box.

Just three minutes later the visitors doubled their lead, Kerr left unmarked at the back post to meet a Jonna Anderson cross and head in her first Barclays FA WSL goal.

Arsenal looked shell-shocked, and there was more to come, Ingle striking a sensational 20-yard volley into the corner of the net when the ball fell to her after a free kick.

Kerr and England both had glorious chances to add to their tallies, but both failed to hit the target from close range.

Reiten then extended the lead with a glancing header midway through the second half to put the game completely beyond doubt.

At the other end, the champions barely mustered a shot in the first half, their best effort coming when Katie McCabe forced Ann-Katrin Berger into a save with her feet.

After the break they showed signs of improvement, and finally pulled one back when Mead’s header was spilled over the line by Berger.

But the damage had been done by then, with Joe Montemurro’s side beaten at home for the first time in a year.

The win takes Chelsea to within a point of Arsenal and Manchester City, with a game in hand over their two title rivals, who meet each other in two weeks.

To follow the action, buy tickets and sign-up for The FA Player’s live Barclays FA Women’s Super League coverage visit womenscompetitions.thefa.com

Arsenal captain Kim Little said: “We’re very disappointed with our performance, and how we played in the first half especially, but I think credit has to go to Chelsea, they turned up from the beginning of the match, we made mistakes and they scored some very good goals and outperformed us.

“We had to pull ourselves together after 20 minutes, to be compact and make sure we were working as a team, because at the start of the game there were lots of spaces for them, and they took advantage of that.

“They have great players, and they made it very hard for us, got tight to us, gave us very little time, myself personally didn’t do well enough to get out of that at times. They did very well to keep us off the pace in the middle. It’s what I expected, it’s no different to any other game against Chelsea.

“With us, Chelsea and Man City these games are crucial, and today was one of those, but it’s also only one game within the whole season, so we need to look at it in that sesne. There’s big games still to play and it’s still very tight at the top, so it’s disappointing and frustrating right now, in the moment, but we’ll reflect and it’ll give us a realisation of how to be better and how to up our game.”

Chelsea captain Magdalena Eriksson said: “The first half was one of the best halves we’ve ever played. Really clinical, scoring from our chances early on, and then we could just see the game out. I think we could have had a better performance second half, but they were going forward with everything they had, so it’s an amazing result and I’m really, really pleased.

“We’ve built up to this. We’ve had a few games now where the luck hasn’t really been on our side and luck is something you build up, and today we had three amazing goals in the first half. We’ve been working really hard on those kind of goals, as well, it’s not just by chance that they came, there’s hard work behind it.

“Coming to any team, we aren’t afraid. We are the best team in England, and we really believe that, and we know that we can compete with any team. And we just have that belief, that we’re on the front foot from the start. It’s so important, we don’t come to a place like this and start dropping off, and being afraid. We show no respect, and we have huge belief in this team.

“Sam [Kerr] proved today what an amazing player she is. She’s also an amazing team player, she works so hard for the team defensively, she wins the ball, she’s good in the air, good in behind. I could tell you everything – she’s good at everything! So she’s come into the team and made a difference, and she really deserved that goal. She’s had a few chances to score, and we all said ‘save it for Arsenal.’

“This result will only be a springboard if we make it one. If we, from now on, put in this type of performance in every game, there’s no way we’re not going to win the league in my opinion. Wherever we go we have to play like today. It’s not the big games we’ve struggled in, it’s going away and playing the teams where we should win, those are the teams we’ve struggled with. So it’s about treating every game like this, and then I’m confident we’re going to come out on top of the league.”

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Manuela Zinsberger; Viktoria Schnaderbeck, Leah Williamson, Louise Quinn, Katie McCabe; Lia Walti, Kim Little; Danielle van de Donk, Jill Roord, Jordan Nobbs; Vivianne Miedema

Substitutes: Lisa Evans for Quinn 58, Beth Mead for Nobbs 58

Substitutes not used: Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, Leonie Maier, Melisa Filis, Ruby Grant,

Goals: Mead 74

Bookings: McCabe 36

Chelsea (4-1-3-2): Ann-Katrin Berger; Maren Mjelde, Millie Bright, Magdelena Eriksson, Jonna Andersson; Sophie Ingle; Erin Cuthbert, Ji So-yun, Guro Reiten; Sam Kerr, Bethany England.

Substitutes: Hannah Blundell for Reiten 81, Drew Spence for Kerr 85

Substitutes not used: Carly Telford, Deanna Cooper, Jamie-Lee Napier, Ramona Bachmann, Jessica Carter

Goals: England 10, Kerr 13, Ingle 20, Reiten 68

Bookings: Mjelde 64

Referee: Abigail Byrne

Attendance: 4,000

Manchester United 3-0 Tottenham Hotspur

Katie Zelem’s brace ensured Manchester United were victorious against Tottenham Hotspur at a cold and foggy Leigh Sports’ Village.

The 23-year-old notched her first from the penalty spot just before the hour mark, after Hayley Ladd went to ground.

Jess Sigsworth doubled the advantage seven minutes later, before Zelem got her second late on to see the Red Devils return to winning ways.

United started on the front foot and Jackie Groenen should have hit the target after the Spurs defence fluffed a clearance from Leah Galton’s cross.

On the half-hour, Spurs’ first shot on goal nearly paid dividends, as Josie Green struck a long-range effort that Mary Earps managed to tip onto the crossbar.

Both teams were much improved after the break and a golden opportunity fell to Spurs’ Rianna Dean but Earps pulled out a top-class save to keep her out.

It was a chance the visitors would rue as referee Edward Duckworth pointed to the spot after Ladd was felled in the penalty area for the Red Devils, and Zelem stepped up to calmly slot into the bottom corner to put the home side ahead.

With the deadlock broken, United notched again soon after. Zelem’s corner evaded everyone and landed at the feet of Sigsworth who made no mistake from six yards out.

Tottenham were still striving to get back in the game, as Emma Mitchell hit the crossbar with a left-footed piledriver.

Then Dean struck the woodwork after being played in by a pinpoint long ball by Anna Filbey, the striker rounded Earps but couldn’t fire home from a tight angle.

Zelem put the icing on the cake with a late free-kick as United took all three points, although the home side’s Ella Toone saw red in a late coming together.

To follow the action, buy tickets and sign-up for The FA Player’s live Barclays FA Women’s Super League coverage visit womenscompetitions.thefa.com

Manchester United striker Jess Sigsworth said: “We knew we had to be patient to stay in there. We don’t need to force it forward all the time and I think we controlled the ball well.

“Mary [Earps] made some great saves at 0-0 which changed the game and then when we came out second half, we knew we could beat them and got the three goals.

“I think the first half they were quite closed and made it difficult for us and forced us out wide, I think at 0-0 they probably came out in the second half and wanted to get that goal.

“They left it more open for us and we’ve got pace and power in wide areas and I think we exploited it well.

“Zela [Katie Zelem] put in some great balls today and I could have got on the end of a few more but it dropped down right at my feet and I just toe-poked it in. I didn’t even think about it.”

Spurs right-back Ashleigh Neville said: “We went in at half-time with things that we could still improve on, but it was fine, it was 0-0 and the second half was there for the taking but the second half proved that we didn’t take our chances and they did and that was the end result of the game.”

“We knew that we needed to keep it tight and we knew that if we could grab a goal that would be great but it didn’t work out that way in the end.

“They are a really good team, a great team. But it is a hard one to take to come all this way and to work so hard but I don’t think 3-0 reflects the game.”

“We’ve got the FA Cup next week and then the week after is another big game, we’ve got Bristol City at home and they’re the team that are below us and we need to keep pushing against those teams that are in and around us.”

Manchester United (4-2-3-1): Mary Earps; Kirsty Smith, Millie Turner, Abbie McManus, Amy Turner; Hayley Ladd, Katie Zelem (c); Leah Galton, Jackie Groenen, Jess Sigsworth; Jane Ross.

Substitutes: Kirsty Hanson for Ross 62, Ella Toone for Groenen 78, Martha Harris for Millie Turner 79.

Substitutes not used: Emily Ramsey, Lotta Okvist, Lizzie Arnot.

Goals: Zelem 58, 87, Sigsworth 65

Bookings: Galton 45+2

Red Cards: Toone 90+5

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-1-1): Chloe Morgan; Ashleigh Neville, Hannah Godfrey, Anna Filbey, Emma Mitchell; Angela Addison, Josie Green (c), Ria Percival; Lucy Quinn; Gemma Davison; Rianna Dean.

Substitutes: Kit Graham for Addison 56, Rosella Ayane for Quinn 60, Lucia Leon for Filbey 82.

Substitutes not used: Megan Drew, Jenna Schillaci, Chloe Peplow, Siri Worm.

Bookings: Godfrey 86, Percival 90+5

Referee: Edward Duckworth

Attendance: 1,836

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Arsenal FC

Alan Shearer: Premier League title race is over… Chelsea will finish fourth… Brighton will stay in top division

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The Premier League’s all-time record goalscorer Alan Shearer is no stranger to winning the league title says this year’s title race is over – and is tipping Manchester City, Leicester and Chelsea in joining Liverpool in qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Shearer, speaking during a visit to Chichester to promote a new fitness initiative at Westgate Leisure, was part of the Blackburn Rovers side who won the PL title in the league’s early days in the mid-90s and is well-placed to judge the present-day race in his role as a Match of the Day pundit.

Shearer as he is best remembered - scoring for Newcastle

Shearer as he is best remembered – scoring for Newcastle

He also had words of encouragement for Brighton and Hove Albion fans – saying they were on course to stay up and go on to establish themselves as a Premier League club

There may still be 16 PL games left to played this year, or 17 with Liverpool’s game in hand, but Shearer believes it’s all but won by the Merseyside giants.

He said: “I don’t see it being won now by anyone else other than Liverpool. They’ve been superb and pretty much have two hands on the trophy already, they just can’t put it above their heads yet.”

The Reds are 14 points clear ahead of Manchester City and although they have not won the league for 30 years – before the First Division became the Premiership – Shearer can’t see anyway for them to miss out now.

Graham Potter is doing exactly what was asked of him at Brighton, says Alan Shearer / Picture: PW Sporting Photography

Graham Potter is doing exactly what was asked of him at Brighton, says Alan Shearer / Picture: PW Sporting Photography

“It’s all but done and they deserve it,” he said. “A club of that size need this trophy and its been a long wait to get it, but I think it could be wrapped up in March or April and they’ll finally have that title.”

The race for top four finishes is hotly contested, with Manchester City and Leicester strong favourites to claim second and third, while fourth is up for grabs by a number of clubs.

Tottenham, Wolves, Chelsea, Manchester United and Sheffield United are all pushing for an all important Champions League spot, but Shearer believes the final top four will feature the clubs in the bracket now.

“I think Chelsea will sneak the final spot and get fourth,” he told us. “I’m sure they will do some business during the January transfer window to strengthen their side and ensure they stay where they are in the table.”

Lower down the table, Brighton are sitting 14th – but are only three points off the relegation zone. Manager Graham Potter signed a contract extension in November, extending his original deal, which ran to 2023, by two years.

Shearer believes Brighton are around the part of the table he’d expect them to be in but can see another season in the top flight.

“I feel they will be safe from relegation and Potter was brought in to shake things up and he’s doing a good job,” Shearer said. “His style of football works and he’s done what he’s been asked and they’ll do enough to establish themselves as a Premier League club.”

As a regular on Match of the Day, one thing Shearer is constantly discussing is the use of VAR. It has drawn a lot of attention – and criticism – this season with a number of controversial decisions made and Shearer feels that unless it does what it came in for, it will constantly be talked about.

He said: “If it’s run how they said it would be run, I don’t think it will (continue to dominate debate), but there’s been a lot more than teething with it and I can’t see it changing too soon, so we’ll always talk about it.

“It’s not been run as we were told, they said it would be used for clear and obvious errors, but it’s causing more argument than it should have.”

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