The big headline this weekend was Australia superstar Sam Kerr making her eagerly anticipated debut for Chelsea. The former Chicago Red Stars player recently topped The Guardian’s list of the top 100 female footballers in the world and started for the Blues against Reading.
Kerr didn’t manage to get on the scoresheet herself in the 3-1 Chelsea win, although she had a number of chances to do so. But the 26-year-old did lay on the opening goal for new strike partner Bethany England with a smart backheel, while she was also the player fouled when Reading goalkeeper Grace Moloney was sent off just 18 minutes into the game.
Fara Williams had given Reading an early lead, but England’s goal cancelled that out, before Guro Reiten’s inch perfect volleyed lob and Erin Cuthbert’s tap-in secured the Chelsea win.
Arsenal stayed top of the table as a result of a routine 2-0 home win over Birmingham. It was a game in which star striker Vivianne Miedema didn’t score, but the Dutch forward turned provider for Kim Little to put the Gunners in front early on.
Jordan Nobbs scored Arsenal’s second after latching onto Leah Williamson’s measured long pass and the game was effectively wrapped up midway through the first half.
Manchester City were big winners away at Tottenham, running riot in a 4-1 victory that saw all five goals scored before half-time. City were 2-0 up in only five minutes after strikes from Pauline Bremer and Ellen White, the latter a fine effort from the edge of the penalty area.
Rianna Dean pulled one back for Spurs from the penalty spot, but Bremer got her second and City’s third to immediately restore the two-goal cushion, before Lauren Hemp made it 4-1.
Second place City remain three points behind Arsenal. Chelsea are third, four points behind the Gunners, but their game in hand could well cut that gap to just a single point.
Elsewhere, fourth place Manchester United kicked off 2020 with a shock home defeat to Bristol City, who were bottom of the table and winless in the WSL this season prior to kick-off.
United’s sluggish start was punished when lax defending allowed former player Ebony Salmon to score against her old club. Bristol then dug in as the home side got stronger as the game wore on, but the post and bar denied United, as did Robins goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley, who made a number of important saves in the second half.
The only other game of the first matchday day of the New Year saw Liverpool’s agonising wait for a first WSL win of the season continue after narrowly losing 1-0 to Brighton - Aileen Whelan got the only goal of the game for the Seagulls in the first half.
The Reds dominated possession, but it was their sixth 1-0 defeat of the season and an eighth league game overall without scoring. The result also sent them back to the bottom of the table in light of Bristol’s surprise win in Manchester. More concerningly, they are now three points adrift and both of the teams directly above them have at least one game in hand.