Arsenal finished gameweek nine of the 2021/22 WSL season by going four points clear of Chelsea at the top of the table, taking advantage of the reigning champions slipping up in a rare defeat.
The Gunners went into the weekend off the back of convincing defeats to the Blues and Barcelona in the FA Cup final and Champions League group stage respectively. But by the time they kicked off against Leicester, they knew there was a chance to create some daylight in the title race.
Here’s what happened on gameweek nine of the WSL…
On Saturday, Chelsea had lost only their third WSL game since January 2019 when they made the relatively short trip to a resurgent Reading.
An early strike from impressive summer signing Deanne Rose proved to the difference in a landmark win for the Royals. Chelsea peppered the Reading goal with 35 efforts in total, but only four were on target, with Gemma Evans clearing one of those off the line.
Manchester United ended a run of four WSL games without a win by beating a Brighton side that had been in the Champions League places prior to the weekend’s action.
In a change to the side by United boss Marc Skinner, Hayley Ladd scored the breakthrough goal in first-half stoppage time, before summer signing Vilde Boe Risa doubled the advantage midway through the second half. United dominated and Brighton goalkeeper Megan Walsh kept it to 2-0.
Toni Duggan rescued a point for Everton at home against West Ham with an equaliser in the final 15 minutes. It was Duggan’s long-awaited first WSL goal since she returned to England in the summer following a four-year spell in Spain.
The Hammers had taken a first-half lead through Zaneta Wyne, but being pegged back for the draw and other results has seen them fall into the bottom half of the table.
Manchester City were forced into yet another defensive reshuffle to cover for Jill Scott’s injury ahead of this one and survived a scare to beat a Birmingham side that had only taken one point from eight games ahead of kick-off.
Birmingham took the lead twice in the game, through Christie Murray and Louise Quinn, but each time it was cancelled out by Georgia Stanway and Lauren Hemp respective. Ellen White finally snatched a winner against her former club in the 89th minute.
Tottenham secured a WSL win for the first time since early October with a narrow away victory over Aston Villa, having had to come from behind after conceding the first goal.
Remi Allen put Villa ahead inside the opening 20 minutes, but Spurs soon equalised from the penalty spot as Kyah Simon converted after Ria Percival had been fouled. WSL veteran Rachel Williams got the winner for Spurs midway through the second half.
Facing the WSL’s bottom club at home after significant back-to-back defeats was the medicine that Arsenal needed, with the Gunners 2-0 up even before Leicester were reduced to ten players.
Back in the starting lineup, Vivianne Miedema set up Jordan Nobbs before scoring one of her own. Jemma Purfield was dismissed in the closing stage of the first half for a foul denying Nikita Parris a goalscoring opportunity, while Frida Maanum got two late goals to make it 4-0.