Women’s Super League: Talking points from the opening weekend’s action

Controversial calls hamper Chelsea

Liverpool recovered from a goal down to stun Chelsea at Prenton Park in their return to the Women’s Super League after a two-year absence. Already in the first minute, chaos ensued. Gilly Flaherty was booked in the box for a foul on Guro Reiten and Fran Kirby converted the spot-kick. It looked like there might be a second for Chelsea. And it should have been when Sam Kerr latched on to a sumptuous through ball from Kirby and lifted the ball into the net, only for the flag to go up and the goal disallowed. Further inspection by fans on social media showed that the tackle should not have been ruled offside, with Kerr marginally ahead of his marker but played into play by another defender. The Australian had another goal ruled out before Liverpool hit back with a penalty of their own, Katie Stengel, who scored after Megan Campbell’s long throw-in, was harshly adjudged to have been handled by Millie Bright. Stengel calmly repeated the trick five minutes before full-time to make it 2-1. Maryam Naz

Match report: Liverpool 2-1 Chelsea

Half time | Liverpool 0-1 Chelsea

Sam Kerr was almost off the mark with this brilliant effort. Will he get the score in the second half? 👀 pic.twitter.com/z4NuOu6FNL

— Sky Sports WSL (@SkySportsWSL) September 18, 2022

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Half time | Liverpool 0-1 Chelsea

Sam Kerr was almost off the mark with this brilliant effort. Will he get the score in the second half? 👀 pic.twitter.com/z4NuOu6FNL

— Sky Sports WSL (@SkySportsWSL) September 18, 2022

Walsh is sorely missed by the city

Aston Villa faced Manchester City, with their summer signings Rachel Daly and Kenza Dali leading them to an impressive 4-3 win. Both thwarted the best efforts of a City midfield sorely missing Keira Walsh. His absence left Laia Aleixandri too much to do; the Spaniard was unable to prevent Alisha Lehmann from opening the scoreboard in the 22nd minute and Daly from doubling 10 minutes later. City temporarily halted Villa’s flow with a goal from Laura Coombs just before the break and two more shortly after the break. But a vital strike from Dalí and a second from Daly secured a historic victory for the home side. Villa seemed strengthened by their signings. City will have to stew and reconsider the best way to use theirs. MN

Match report: Aston Villa 4-3 Manchester City

Is Blackstenius Heading For The Big Season?

Arsenal took a while to find their rhythm against 10-man Brighton on Friday night, but when they started to click they did so in emphatic fashion. It’s clear that Jonas Eidevall has benefited from a relatively quiet summer, in contrast to some rival clubs who have been more like a revolving door. The press was hungry and organised, the combinations around the 18-yard box slick and well drilled. And while Vivianne Miedema and Beth Mead will continue to garner most of the attention, Stina Blackstenius up front is becoming an increasingly influential force – equally comfortable as a focal point, linking play or making runs from ‘cheating in the channels to create space for teammates. Based on early evidence, Blackstenius could be in for a big season. Jonathan Liew

Match report: Arsenal 4-0 Brighton

The hosts double their lead thanks to a great finish @SBlackstenius!#BarclaysWSL @ArsenalWFC pic.twitter.com/FBvxYmWLXJ

— Barclays Women’s Super League (@BarclaysWSL) September 16, 2022

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Declaration of the Century of Zelem

Maya Le Tissier’s dream debut in Manchester United’s 4-0 win over Reading dominated the headlines, but attention must also be paid to the accuracy of the centre-back’s two goals. United captain Katie Zelem hit the corners for 20-year-old Le Tissier’s goals and converted from the spot after Euro super substitute Alessia Russo was ruled out by Grace Moloney. she had been shot down. Zelem was making his 100th appearance for United and was instrumental in the team’s opening win. If there is any concern for United, who are hoping to enter the Champions League for the first time, it may be that they failed to capitalize on a four-goal lead in the second half. But a match, maybe that’s too harsh a criticism. United have time to build on their performances over the 90 minutes – they won’t play one of the traditional big three until the visit of Chelsea on November 6. Suzanne Wrack

Match report: Manchester United 4-0 Reading

Neville shines for Spurs

Ashleigh Neville’s performance on Sunday summed up everything about Rehanne Skinner’s Tottenham: energetic, passionate and tenacious with a fighting edge and the ability to ignite the spectacle. The Spurs vice-captain’s strike was perhaps the pick of the weekend – an audacious curling effort from over 35 yards to put her side in front against the run of play. Tottenham had to dig deeper to get the three points against a resilient Leicester. Despite going 2-0 up before the break, they had to deal with a strong second-half response from a team backed by a partisan crowd. Neville was at the heart of their performance throughout, covering every blade of grass to ensure the visitors stayed on top. Sophie Downey

WHAT. A GOAL. @ashnev10 score with this beautiful shot!#BarclaysWSL pic.twitter.com/9OGKwfQTzr

— Barclays Women’s Super League (@BarclaysWSL) September 18, 2022

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Konchesky’s winning start

Paul Konchesky edged out a battle of new managers as Lisa Evans’ first-half goal gave West Ham victory over Brian Sørensen’s Everton. Evans, who joined Arsenal after spending last season on loan with the Hammers, headed home just before the break after the visitors failed to get a corner. Konchesky, who was Ollie Harder’s assistant at West Ham last season, has embarked on a major overhaul. Five of their 12 signings (which included the deals for Evans and another former Arsenal loanee, Halle Houssein) were named in West Ham’s starting eleven. Japan striker Honoka Hayashi, who joined on deadline day following the departure of international team-mate Yui Hasegawa to Manchester City, was among them. With the squad still getting to know each other, and Evans the only familiar face in the front three, there is no doubt that West Ham’s attacking threat will improve as the players get closer. SW

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