The Barclays FA Women’s Super League entered the new year and new decade with ten teams returning to action on Sunday following the Christmas break, writes Nicola Kenton.
Arsenal maintained their lead at the top of the table with a convincing 2-0 victory against Birmingham City thanks to goals from Kim Little and Jordan Nobbs.
Chelsea and Manchester City both kept up the pace in the title race as they recorded wins against Reading and Tottenham Hotspur.
But the shock of the weekend was delivered by Bristol City, who earned their first win of the season with a narrow win at Manchester United.
Elsewhere, Liverpool are still yet to get off the mark having lost to Brighton and West Ham’s match against Everton was postponed due to a flu outbreak in the Hammers’ squad.
Kerr gets stuck in on Chelsea debut
The first match of the new year saw Sam Kerr make her long-awaited debut in the WSL as she featured in Chelsea’s 3-1 win against Reading.
The visitors went in front through Fara Williams but Kerr soon got her first taste of the action when Reading keeper Grace Moloney was sent off for a challenge on the Australian on the edge of the box.
Chelsea equalised just before the break when Kerr backheeled to Beth England who found the back of the net, Guro Reiten and Erin Cuthbert scored for the Blues in the second half.
After the match, Kerr said: “I’m still finding my feet in England but it’s been quality working with Beth [England], she’s a great player.
“I’m pleased to get an assist but I need to sharpen up on my shooting. It’s freezing in England but I’m enjoying it. I’ve settled in as best I can in nine days.”
Bristol start how they mean to go on
Without a win this season, Bristol City headed into the new year hoping to turn their fortunes around in the WSL.
It fell to former Manchester United player Ebony Salmon to score against her old club, as the visitors clinched their first victory of the season in the league.
In the 36th minute, Salmon ran down the left and darted inside Abbie McManus to fire home and ensure Bristol triumphed.
The result ended Manchester United’s four-match unbeaten streak at home and lifted Bristol off the foot of the table.
Home is where success comes for Arsenal
First-half goals from captain Kim Little and Jordan Nobbs ensured Arsenal started 2020 in the same vein that they finished 2019.
The comfortable 2-0 victory over Birmingham City, which could have seen an even greater margin of victory, meant they kept their place at the top of the WSL tree.
Meadow Park has become a bit of a fortress in recent times as the Gunners have won their last ten WSL home matches – all while only conceding three goals.
The defending champions are in remarkable form and will be keen to continue to amass points with matches against Chelsea and Manchester City coming up in the near-future.
📊 Our last 10 home fixtures in the @BarclaysFAWSL...— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) January 5, 2020
✅ 3-0 v Yeovil
✅ 4-0 v Bristol
✅ 2-1 v Everton
✅ 1-0 v Man City
✅ 2-1 v West Ham
✅ 4-0 v Brighton
✅ 1-0 v Man City
✅ 11-1 v Bristol
✅ 1-0 v Liverpool
✅ 2-0 v Birmingham
🎶 "All we do is win, win, win" 🎶 pic.twitter.com/VXmGb9l5xl
Rampant City keep up the pace
Pauline Bremer’s double helped Manchester City record an impressive 4-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur.
With less than two minutes on the clock Bremer slotted home to give the visitors the lead which was extended when Ellen White netted minutes later.
Rianna Dean pulled one back for Spurs with a penalty in the 20th minute but City’s domination paid dividends when Bremer scored her second.
Lauren Hemp added a fourth just before the break to round off an inspired first half and seal the result, as City remain three points behind Arsenal in the title chase.
Liverpool’s miserable run continues
With Bristol winning, Liverpool needed to dig deep to try and find their first victory of the season, but Vicky Jepson’s team were on the losing side once again.
Liverpool had chances against Brighton but they couldn’t find their clinical edge as Brighton took the lead in the 33rd minute.
Aileen Whelan’s close-range shot put the hosts ahead and it was an uphill battle from there for the Reds.
New signing Rachel Furness saw an effort go wide for Liverpool but Brighton held on to secure themselves three points.