WSL gameweek 8 preview: Six things to look out for

Ali Rampling
Jamie Spencer
Manchester United are back at Old Trafford this weekend
Manchester United are back at Old Trafford this weekend / Matthew Ashton - AMA/GettyImages
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The WSL is back this weekend following last week's break for the Continental Cup.

There are games in big stadiums, the return of big name players and a couple of managerial reunions to keep your eye on.

Here's everything to look out for on gameweek eight of the WSL.


Man Utd on course for club record attendance at Old Trafford

Alessia Russo
Russo was on the scoresheet when United last played at Old Trafford / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Manchester United are on course to set a new club attendance record after selling 36,000 tickets and counting for this game against Aston Villa – the third time they will have played at Old Trafford.

The existing club record is just over 20,000, set at the win over Everton at Old Trafford last season, but will be shattered if all those with tickets attend. It is, however, not likely to get near the overall WSL record in excess of 47,000 set by Arsenal earlier this season.

“We understand our place in terms of the growth of the game. We want to get to a stage where we sell out Old Trafford as a team, regardless of gender,” said United boss Marc Skinner, who is adamant that fans have to be given a great game to make them want to keep going.

“If you don’t put a good spectacle on, why would people want to come and watch it? That is our responsibility."

Manchester United vs Aston Villa

When is kick off? Saturday 3 December, 12:30 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Old Trafford
TV channel/live stream? Sky Sports Main Event/Football (UK),FA Player, DAZN (International)
Referee? Louise Saunders


Can Arsenal break WSL winning streak record against Everton?

Leah Williamson
Leah Williamson is back in contention to return for Arsenal / Julian Finney/GettyImages

Arsenal saw their record-breaking WSL winning streak come to an end last time out against Manchester United, but could set another one against Everton on Saturday.

The Gunners have won 13 league matches in a row against Everton - the joint-longest winning run one team has had against another in the competition, with Manchester City also on a current run of 13 successive victories against Everton. Win on Saturday and the record will be exclusively theirs.

Arsenal will be boosted by the returns of Leah Williamson and Rafaelle. The centre back pairing have both been sidelined for two months, but Jonas Eidevall has confirmed they are fit to return to the match day squad.

Arsenal vs Everton

When is kick off? Saturday 3 December, 14:00 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Meadow Park
TV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK & international)
Referee? Sunny Gill


Top of the table play bottom

Fran Kirby, Sam Kerr
Chelsea currently top the WSL / Lewis Storey/GettyImages

It's first against last at the King Power Stadium on Saturday as table-topping Chelsea travel to win-less and point-less Leicester.

The Blues ran out emphatic 9-0 winners the last time these two met, netting four goals in the opening 11 minutes alone in an electric performance. Six different players were on the scoresheet.

"You have to be near perfect to take points off Chelsea and that's what we aim to be," said new Leicester boss Willie Kirk. "It's a challenge for every club in the league to shut them out because they have so many different ways of scoring.

"If they can't go through you, they go over you, if they can't play over you they go around you and they always find away and that's why they're the best team in the country."

Leicester vs Chelsea

When is kick off? Saturday 3 December, 15:00 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? King Power Stadium
TV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK, international)
Referee? Amy Fearn


How many late goals will Reading score on Sunday?

Natasha Dowie
Reading netted late on against Liverpool last time out / Warren Little/GettyImages

Reading have been the queens of late goals this season - they netted an 89th minute equaliser against Liverpool last time out in the WSL, having hit two dramatic late goals to earn a last gasp win over relegation rivals Leicester two games previously.

In fact, 55% of the Royals' WSL goals this season have come after the 80 minute mark, and they have scored just once in the first half all season.

"I think that's one thing the girls have proven: they never give up," said Reading manager Kelly Chambers. "They've got that never give up fight about them and they'll go to the end."

Reading vs Tottenham

When is kick off? Sunday 4 December, 12:30 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Madjeski Stadium
TV channel/live stream? BBC Red Button/BBC Sport Website/BBC iPlayer (UK), FA Player (International)
Referee? Carl Brook


Potential for goals galore at the Academy Stadium

Khadija Shaw
Shaw is currently the WSL's top scorer / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

Brighton have been anything but goal shy since Amy Merricks took interim charge, scoring eight and conceding seven in just two WSL outings.

The Seagulls are without a clean sheet this term, and have suffered heavy 7-1, 6-0 and 7-2 defeats to Manchester City in their last three meetings. City also boast the WSL's top scorer, Bunny Shaw, who has averaged a goal every 73 minutes this term.

"I think what the data shows you is probably that the fact that they are scoring more goals potentially leaves them a bit vulnerable at the back. That's normally the easy answer," said Gareth Taylor. "You always get these things that are thrown up at times; first two games of the season we conceded too many goals, since then we've only conceded two goals."

Manchester City vs Brighton

When is kick off? Sunday 4 December, 14:00 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Academy Stadium
TV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK, International)
Referee? Cheryl Foster


Matt Beard & Paul Konchesky faces former clubs

Matt Beard
Beard was previously in charge of West Ham / George Wood/GettyImages

It's reunions all round at Prenton Park on Sunday. Matt Beard faces a West Ham side he spent nearly two and a half years in charge of, while in the opposite dugout will be former Liverpool player Paul Konchesky, who spent a year with the Reds as a player between 2010 and 2011.

Beard took charge of West Ham in June 2018 ahead of the club's debut season in the WSL and guided the Hammers to the 2019 FA Cup final.

"Paul Konchesky has done a great job as manager at West Ham," Beard said ahead of the fixture.

"I know he was the assistant there last season but it’s different when you become a manager, and I think he has a good, energetic and athletic team there and it’s not going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination."

Liverpool vs West Ham

When is kick off? Sunday 4 December, 14:00 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Prenton Park
TV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK, International)
Referee? Neil Hair


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