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  • Writer's pictureBethany Barker

WSL Week 10 Recap: Derby surprises and table shapes up

Here are the main talking points for week 10 of the WSL before the end-of-the-year break

Wednesday 20th December 2023


Last weekend's recap of the WSL: surprise results led to the table starting to take more of a shape with close battles at both the top and the relegation spot

North London derby round two: Spurs win for the first time

The first game of the weekend was another North London derby after a closely contested midweek clash in the Continental League Cup; Arsenal came out on top last game after a 3-3 draw which ended in a 4-3 win for the home side on penalties, meaning they move to the top of the group. However, Saturday's game saw a first win for Spurs as they played in front of 19,480 fans, with a 7th league goal for the team's summer signing Martha Thomas.

Despite only holding 39% of the possession and creating 5 chances to the visitor's 31, the home side came out on top with Martha Thomas getting her first goal in five WSL games. With a 4-4-2 formation Tottenham played a lot deeper than their past games- their former strategies leading them to concede 11 goals in the last two games- which allowed them to be more compact under the chances that Arsenal created and beat the visitor's press and take advantage of the space that the defence opened for them. Thomas' goal started from goalkeeper Barbara Votíková and the deadlock was broken in the 58th minute when Spurs took advantage of the space opened up by the Arsenal defence.

Tottenham goalkeeper Barbora Votikova on the team's performance and her WSL debut:

"Firstly I need to just process everything. It was such a big game, my debut in the league and it went so well. I'm so happy for this result, so proud of all the girls. It was so amazing...I think we were very compact, very disciplined in every situation. It is really good to beat such a big team like Arsenal now after the last few results that were not so good."

History made: Liverpool take the three points against Manchester United

The weekend saw another surprise derby win as Liverpool came from behind- after a 3-minute goal- to win against Manchester United, which is a first in the team's history within the WSL.

Holding just 40% of the possession and putting up 11 shots the visitors weren't initial favourites to win but after Ella Toone fired United ahead in the third minute, creating a chance on Leah Galton's pass after the winger's shot had come back off the post, the Reds had to find more resilience to not drop any more points this season. Their equaliser- an initially controversial one- came from an own goal with the ball hitting Millie Turner's head after looking as though it was a handball; Taylor Hinds scored the winner in the 68th minute as United struggled to deal with the set-piece, the ball coming off of Hinds' knee from Missy Bo Kearn's delivery. The hosts were unable to find an equaliser and throughout the game found it difficult to deal with the Reds' set-pieces which proved to be costly in the end; manager Marc Skinner spoke after the game about his team lacking desire as they showed poor defending which may have cost them some ground in the title race.

Liverpool's captain and defender, Taylor Hinds on her team's performance:

“It feels amazing, this game is another derby for us. You can see how happy our fans are, which means everything to us. We’ve put [the 6-0 defeat last season] way behind us – you can see we’ve added a lot to this team. Normally I’m on the edge of the box, but I had a feeling I would score today!”

Three for Shaw: City move up with another Shaw hattrick to compete in the title race

Manchester City provided a ruthless attacking presence against Everton as they held 68% possession which provided Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw with her third hattrick of the season- which makes her the 1st player to do so- and increased her tally to nine goals ending the year as the top scorer in the WSL.

The assertive performance of the visitors started early in the 30th minute when Shaw scored her first goal after a missed penalty. Shaw then scored twice before Jill Rood made it 3-0. The home side produced 6 shots which gave them one back through a goal by Aurora Galli, with an improvement in performance in the second half, but the game ended with Shaw securing a hat-trick to restore the advantage. This win gives Manchester City a four-game run of wins and moves them up to second.

Everton boss Brian Sorensen, on his side's loss:

"They were just better than us and when we are not playing to our very best it is hard to compete. They were really good today and we were not at our peak. It has been challenging with so many players out so far. Against the teams around us we manage to find wins but against a top side we need everyone fully fresh."

Back to winning ways: Chelsea end the year top

After their winning streak came to an end last weekend- against Arsenal- Chelsea comfortably beat bottom-of-the-table Bristol City by three and created their first clean sheet since November, thanks to debutant Hannah Hampton.

The scoring was opened up by Lauren James- who returned to the starting lineup after a rest midweek- through a curling finish from the edge of the box. The visitors extended the lead through Erin Cutherburt who fired in a volley past Clark in the 34th minute from a mistimed clearance. The attacking link-up between Kerr and Reiten was showcased perfectly as the captain nodded in a pinpoint cross in the 59th minute. Chelsea kept a 72% possession rate with 22 shots- 11 being on target- but their game ended on a low note with defender Niamh Charles being sent off after being second yellow card for a foul in injury time. Although Bristol City put up a tough battle- with Thestrup inches away from meeting a Jamie-Lee Napier delivery in the early exchanges- they remain bottom of the table after West Ham picked up one point to separate them slightly in the relegation battle, whilst the defending champions ended the year three points clear after a strong title run so far.

Chelsea Manager Emma Hayes on the game:

"I thought all round it was a good performance and we got to rest some players and a debut for Hannah Hampton - we were able to win and develop players all at once."

Problems arising: Leicester City denied three points by a draw

Leicester would have been hoping that Lena Petermann's goal in the 68th minute would be enough to get them their first win since October but found that West Ham created a big issue in the latter minutes with a goal from Honoka Hayashi in the eighth minute of stoppage time, despite being a player down.

Leicester assumed early control and held 61% possession throughout, but struggled to create chances, or when they did Janina Leitzig was able to hold them off. Petermann fired the home side in front when the forward prodded home Whelan's cross. The Hammers' defender Hawa Cissoko was then sent off for West Ham in the closing stages after two quick yellow cards, but Honoka Hayashi struck in the eighth minute of stoppage time, off of 17-year-old Princess Ademiluyi's cross, in at the far post. to end 10-player West Ham's five-game losing run and moves them above Bristol City on goal difference. West Ham had chances in this match to win it, but they weren't able to convert their 13 shots, but the draw would have been welcomed by the visitors who were facing their sixth defeat in a row.

Foxes boss Willie Kirk on his side's performance:

"I don't think we played well. We didn't deserve to win, but we were ahead and against 10 players. From that point of view, we should go on and win. It became a bit like a basketball game when we were trying to get control against 10. If you don't track runners, unmarked players score goals. You'll see a better Leicester in the second half of the season."

Aston Villa turn their performance around: ending the year on a high

Aston Villa ended their 2023 on a high note, after a tough start to this season, but it was ultimately a narrow win for Carla Ward's side with just a solo goal putting them in front for the much-needed three points, which leaves them four points clear of relegation.

Villa offered by far the greater threat- with 68% possession- throughout, but Kenza Dali hit the top of the crossbar from outside the box and Leon's finish was disallowed for offside in the first half before the home side found their lead. Adriana Leon’s solo goal in the 63rd minute broke the deadlock after cutting inside from the right to squeeze a shot past Sophie Baggaley at the near post. Brighton struggled to create many attacking chances- apart from a close chance from Elisabeth Terland who hit the woodwork- but Sophie Baggaley showed her strength by denying Villa's chances- only letting 1 shot in out of the 7 on target and 20 shots overall- such as Rachel Daly's overhead kick, a shot from Jordan Nobbs, and Rachel Corsie's header. Melissa Phillips’ side has been inconsistent during the first half of the season and now find themselves in tenth with Aston Villa overtaking them. Villa will start back in January without Maz Pacheco though after she was sent off in the latter stages of the win, but the solo goal from player of the match- Leon- proved enough to claim the three points.

Villa's Player of the Match, Adriana Leon on the team's game:

"Really nice! We had a good performance... we played really well."

The Race for the Golden Boot continues:




Khadija Shaw

Manchester City


Lauren James



Martha Thomas

Tottenham Hotspur


Elizabeth Terland



Jill Rood

Manchester City


How the Table Stands:

BBC Sports Personality Awards:

Last night saw England and Manchester United's Mary Earps- who was also named as the BBC's Women's Footballer of the Year last month- become the second Lioness to be named as the Sports Personality of the Year, after Beth Mead winning last year, by winning the public vote (cricketer Stuart Broad came second and world heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson third). She is the first goalkeeper to ever win the award and becomes the third consecutive female to win, which hasn't happened since 1964.

Speaking on the night she stated:

"I'm trying to be a game changer. I'm trying to change the world in whatever small time that I'm here. I enjoy the responsibility of being a role model, I try to inspire as many people as possible - young, old, whatever. I want people to relate to me and my journey, see that I'm just a normal person trying to live out her dream. I'm trying [to make goalkeeping cool]. It's happening, it's happening. Slowly but surely - it's the Merps mission. Goalkeeping is cool!"

Next in Women's Football:

  • Champions League: 20th and 21st December

  • FA Cup: 14th January

  • WSL: 20th and 21st January

  • Continental Cup: 24th and 25th January

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