Eni back at Birmingham

It is always good news to see an English player who went to play professional football in the WPS back in England. Especially when the girls who was a rough diamond at the time she left has come back as a polished diamond and much improved technically ( cone slalom anyone).

So what will she bring to the Blues attack? First an extensive experience of the highest level and an unbelieveable pace that will unsettle every defence in England and in Europe in the Champions League. There won’t be many center back who will relish a race battle against her.

The big question is how she will affect the Blues football style ? It is obvious that her game is naturally efficient with space in front of her. She can outsprint anyone bar Rachel Williams and take on defenders in one on one at will.

So will Birmingham play a direct football towards the 2 arrows that Williams and Aluko are ? It would make sense to use the long ball up top behind the opposition defense. If we remember last WSL season, Birmingham started a bit like a ball possession team and in the second half of the season evolved into a team using direct football towards Rachel Williams.

So my guess is a very solid defensive block with a low position on the pitch and 2 forwards ready to run at every counter attack opportunity. A forward trio of Aluko, Taylor and Williams will certainly create havoc against defence with slow defenders. The only downside of it will be predictability…

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FA WSL transfer window – January

The January movements are in bold. The transfer window is  opened now, the FA does not communicate on it but the FIFA rules make it compulsory to have a 12 week transfer window.

Loaned players are not included as they will come back to their parent team for the soon starting pre-season.

Arsenal

In :

Out : Rebecca Spencer (ASJ Soyaux ) Meaghan Sargeant ( Lincoln)

Birmingham

In : Eni Aluko ( Sky Blue FC)

Out : Stephanie Curtis ( Bristol), – (Chelsea)

Bristol

In : Stephanie Curtis ( Birmingham )

Out : Katie Sherwood ( Chelsea ), Anouk Hoogendijk ( FC Utrecht)

Chelsea

In : Katie Sherwood ( Bristol ), Suzanne Lappin ( Liverpool),  Sophie Ingle (Cardiff), (Birmingham )

Out : Naomi Cole (Lewes)**,  Leanne Champ ( Millwall)**,  Emma Plewa (Spurs)**,  Rebecca Jane (Reading)**

Doncaster

In : Sue Smith , Leandra Little ( Lincoln ) Julie-Ann Russell (Peamount)

Out : Helen Alderson*** ( Sunderland), Abbie Prosser*** ( Barnet),  Shelly Cox*** (Porstmouth) , Vicky Exley***,  Precious Hamilton ( Lincoln)

Everton

In :

Out :

Lincoln

In : Laura Alleway ( Brisbane Roar ) , Collette McCallum ( Perth Glory), Meaghan Sargeant ( Arsenal) Precious Hamilton ( Doncaster)

Out : Sue Smith, Leandra Little ( Doncaster )

Liverpool

In :

Out : Suzanne Lappin ( Chelsea)

** No  longer on Chelsea website in the players squad list

*** No  longer on Doncaster website in the players squad list

The FA Premier League Cup

Well a competition when you don’t know the definitive format when the season starts is a bit of a problem to be honest.

The League program now is going to be disrupted by those multiple group games as opposed to a the traditional knock-out format you expect in a  cup.

When you think that teams have vital games for win a title or avoid relegation, it beggars belief that those games can be played a month or 2 months apart with other teams already knowing what to do to win the League get promoted or save their bacon.  Not really a fair competition, IMO.  Anyway the draw was made :

The top two from each of the seven groups go through to the knockout stage, along with the two best third-placed sides.

Group 1 – Blackburn Rovers, Rochdale, Preston North End, Manchester City

Group 2 – Tottenham Hotspur, Barnet, Colchester United, West Ham United, Watford

Group 3 – Portsmouth, Plymouth Argyle, Reading, Keynsham Town

Group 4 – Charlton Athletic, Brighton & Hove Albion, Millwall Lionesses, Queens Park Rangers, Gillingham

Group 5 – Sheffield FC, Leeds United, Sunderland, Leeds City Vixens

Group 6 – Rotherham United, Derby County, Leicester City, Nottingham Forest

Group 7 – Sporting Club Albion, Cardiff City, Aston Villa, Coventry City

The big question is how the best 3rd placed will be decided especially as some groups have 4 teams and some other 5 teams.  At international level FIFA UEFA everything is clear with all rules published, here we are clearly in the dark and it is really annoying. Same as the 2nd champions league place offered to Birmingham after being originally given to the FA Cup winners.

So here are yesterdays results and as it is round 1 only, it is a bit early to know who is likely to qualify with so many games to be played.

GROUP 1
Blackburn Rovers 3-0 Rochdale
Preston North End 2-4 Manchester City
GROUP 2
Colchester United 1-1 West Ham United
Tottenham Hotspur 0-3 Barnet
GROUP 3
Portsmouth 7-0 Plymouth Argyle
Reading 3-1 Keynsham Town
GROUP 4
Charlton Athletic 6-2 Brighton & Hove Albion
Millwall Lionesses 1-1 Queens Park Rangers
GROUP 5
Sheffield FC P-P Leeds United
Sunderland P-P Leeds City Vixens
GROUP 6
Leicester City WFC 1-2 Nottingham Forest
GROUP 7
Aston Villa P-P Coventry City
Sporting Club Albion 0-2 Cardiff City

The promotion battle WPL Southern division ep 2

QPR 0 West Ham 1

West Ham takes another step towards promotion with that big away win at QPR.  Porstmouth game at Gillingham was called off due to an unplayable pitch. Colchester United League season is finished. They have cup games and friendlies gainst WSL side until the end of the season and have to wait anxiously for the other teams’ results.

1. Colchester 35 pts GD +16 (45-29)

2. West Ham 34 pts GD+16 (35-19) maximum 37 pts

3. Porstmouth 30 pts GD +22 (41-19) maximum 39 pts

 

Portsmouth definitely in the driving seat with 7 points good enough to clinch the title/promotion.

The upcoming fixtures are :

Porstmouth v Plymouth 26/02

West Ham v Brighton 04/03

QPR V Porsrmouth 18/03

Gillingham v Porstmouth TBA

 

 

The title battle National division ep3

Sunderland beat Cardiff and now 3 points clear of Leeds with both team with 3 games to play.

All the other sides are now mathematically out of the race.
Sunderland has 35 points and a +28 goal difference. Leeds has 32 points and a +19  goal difference.
The 6  remaining games are :
Villa v Sunderland 19/02
Cardiff v Sunderland 26/02
Reading v Leeds 04/03 ( crucial game, title might be decided on the day, reading also in relegation trouble need points )
Charlton v Sunderland 18/03
Leeds v Cardiff 01/04
Cardiff v Leeds 15/04

The relegation battle National division ep 4

Sunderland 3 Cardiff 0

Watford 2 Forest 0

Survival Sunday went well for Watford with goals for Wynne and Wiltshire. Forest soon to enter the relegation trouble zone soon if they carry on with their actual form.

Here is the table as of tonight 2 teams will go down from the following contenders, they are ranked by the maximum potential points they can reach and their actual League position is on the left column.

10. Watford 11 points (17 pts maximum) GD -26

7. Reading 16 points ( 22 pts maximum) GD -13

9. Forest 11 points (23 pts maximum) GD -20

6.  Aston Villa 18 points ( 33 pts maximum) GD 0

4. Coventry 21 points ( 33 pts maximum) GD 0

6.  Aston Villa 18 points ( 33 pts maximum) GD 0

8. Cardiff 15 points ( 33  pts maximum) GD0

 

Coventry 2 points away from safety with 4 games to play.

Villa 5 points away from safety with 5 games to play.

Cardiff 8 points away from safety with 6 games to play.

Forest 12 points away from safety with 4  games to play.

Gillingham v Colchester United FA Cup

The game was played at Chatham FC on a cold Sunday afternoon. Gillingham is a friendly team with the chairman doing the turnstiles and a very pleasant chap.  The pink kit is a bit strange and the red kit from Col U was change from their usual home colours.

The games was played in a very good spirit and Gillingham won 3-0. I still haven’t managed to understand what formation Gillingham were using on the day ie back 3 or back 4.  It was a very competitive game played in a good spirit on the pitch that was not easy for a passing game.  The final score was logical with Gillingham defending well to keep a clean sheet and Col U clearly missing Longhurst up front. Especially her power and off the ball movement. Gillingham also could not play Quantrill as both players are Chelsea’s and would have been cup should they have been used. Overall a very entertaining game in a chilly weather.

Star player : Nathalie Crinean

Highlights of the game can be found here : http://gillinghamladies.clubfans.co.uk/2012/01/11/gills-ladies-tv-fa-cup-highlights/

Women’s Premier League 22/01 preview

3 games planned next Sunday.

Sunderland v Cardiff

Sunderland will be looking to open a 3 points lead over Leeds and probably keep it until the end of the season. Cardiff still needs 7 points to be definitely safe.

Charlton v Barnet

Both side now safe and with no chance of winning the title but fighting for a place on the podium.

Watford v Forest

Billed as survival Sunday by Watford. If they don’t get the 3 points, they will go down. Forest is also in relegation trouble. It should be an exciting and tense, although it is more likely to be a dogfight rather than a Barcelona style exhibition.

The worse thing is the league will be on hold for a month due to cup games and will come back on the 19th of February.

England at La Manga

From the FA website ” While 2011 was widely considered the biggest ever year for women’s football in this country,  Hope Powell is not one to rest on her laurels, and although we are just ten days into the New Year, the England Women’s National Coach has already demanded a week of hard graft from 47 international players.”

Is it really hard to list the 47 players ?  Apparently yes because, it does not appear on the website. The funniest thing is, it gives a clear indication on who has a chance to play for Team GB at the Olympics. Any English player who is not injured/cannot come due to work and not on the list can book their holidays or tickets to watch the game in the stands. If we look at what happens last year, someone who had an outstanding WSL first half of the season did not make the World Cup squad ( Rachel Williams ). I don’t think it will be different this season. So we can already say that quality palyers like Gilly Flaherty, Rebecca Spencer and Gemma Davison won’t make it to the Olympic squad which is very puzzling.

For the record the U23 list  was actually disclosed but no the FA website ( 20 names) so the search for the 27 senior players name who travelled to la Manga today can start now.

Goalkeepers

Sarah Quantrill Chelsea, Ashley Baker University of Georgia Lauren Davey Watford

Defenders

Kerys Harrop Birmingham City, Chelsea Weston Birmingham City, Jemma Rose Bristol Academy, Grace McCatty Bristol Academy, Naomi Chadwick Doncaster Rovers Belles, Victoria Williams Doncaster Rovers Belles, Gemma Bonner Chelsea, Sam Chappell Liverpool, Naomi Cole Chelsea

Midfielders

Jordan Nobbs Arsenal, Remi Allen Lincoln Ladies, Sophie Walton Lincoln Ladies, Brooke Chaplen Everton, Jess Holbrook Leeds United, Michelle Hinnigan Everton, Laura Coombs Chelsea

Forwards

Isobel Christiansen Birmingham City, Toni Duggan Everton

Also for those who will bother doing the trip to Spain, there is a non official game on Friday the 13th of January against Norway at 1800 local time.

 

England 2 Norway 1

goals  Trine Rønning (18),  Jess Clarke (26), Farah Williams (pen 88).

Video can be found here :  http://www.fotball.no/Landslag_og_toppfotball/Landslag/A-kvinner/2012/Mange-plusser-til-tross-for-tap/

 

The battle for the title WPL National division Ep 3

Barnet 1 Cardiff 0

Here is the virtual table with the current ranking on the left side.

1.  Sunderland 32 points +26 maximum pts 44

2.  Leeds 32 points +19 maximum pts 41

8. Cardiff 15 points +2 maximum 36 pts

5. Coventry 21 points 0 maximum 33 pts (out of the title race when Sunderland/Leeds get 2 points next.)

6. Aston Villa 18 points 0 maximum 33 pts (out of the title race when Sunderland/Leeds get 2 points next.)

4. Barnet 23 pointts + 9  maximum pts 32 ( out of the title  race when Sunderland/Leeds get a point next.)

Unless Cardiff starts a winning run, it is a two horse race as it has been for a few weeks now.