FA WSL Conti Cup 2014 preview

The Continental Cup format has changed from the 3 previous seasons. It  has been organised with 3 groups of 6 teams to accomodate the 18 FA WSL sides.

Group 1 has 2 WSL 1 team and 4 WSL 2 teams :

Arsenal, Chelsea, London Bees, Millwall, Reading, Watford

Group 2 has 3 WSL 1 team and 3 WSL 2 teams :

Doncaster, Durham, Everton,  Liverpool, Man City, Sunderland

Group 3 has 3 WSL 1 team and 3 WSL 2 teams :

Aston Villa,  Birmingham, Bristol, Notts County, Oxford, Yeovil
In term of strength, Group 2 seems to be the toughest one with 3 WSL 1 teams and 2 of the WSL 2 promotion favorites. Group 1 is in theory the easiest group for the 2 WSL 1 side as they face 4 WSL 2 opponents. Group 3 is quite balanced compared to the other 2 groups.

The group winners and the best runner-up will qualify for the semi-finals.

In order to see how many points are likely to be needed to qualify for the semi-finals, let’s have a look at the FA WSL development cup that was organised in the same format earlier in the season..

In group 1 Arsenal finished top with 12 pts in 4 games, Reading runner-up with 10 points. In group 2 Everton finished top with 11 points and Liverpool runner-up with 11 points and a lower goal difference. In group 3 Aston Villa finished top with 11 pts and Notts County runner-up with 10 pts.

Therefore teams should target tor each 12 pts to  qualify. So basically, one defeat is acceptable with 4 wins. There will be a lot of dead rubbers in that tournament because as soon as a team has dropped 5 points, it is likely to be over.

Games to be played between the 30/04 and 15/05 and also between 02/07 and 13/07

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Conti Cup Match day 1 preview

Group 1

Arsenal – Watford

The Gunners have not had a game since the 16th of April and are home to Watford unbeaten in 3 in the FA WSL 2. Arsenal are clear favourite against a side that contains not less than 6 former Arsenal youth players.

London Bees – Millwall

Those two times just played a 2-2 draw on Sunday at the Den. Lillie Billson was sent off and should miss the game. Millwall are a point ahead in the League, so it should be another tight and interesting game that I will be attending.

Reading – Chelsea

They played each other a couple of times in pre-season. Reading curently on a negative streak with 2 defeats in the League while Chelsea are on the high. Fran Kirby is in form for the Royals with 4 in 3 League games. Chelsea will welcome back Ji So-Yun who missed the FA Cup tie this week-end.

 

Group 2

Doncaster Belles – Man City Women

Probably the most exciting game from match day 1 between the team demoted to Division 2 early in the seasona dn the team that replaced them. City managed to beat a WSL 2  team in the Cup but the Belles are flying at the moment, so the underdog might win that one.

Liverpool v Everton

A second Merseyside derby soon after the upset in the FA Women’s Cup. Can Liverpool recover and get some of the injured players back ( Harris, Stout or Longhurst) ? If not they will face the same problems as last Saturday, also they have to field the same 11 every game with the development team players being asked to cover on the bench and come into the game as subs.

Sunderland v Durham

Another derby and it is a top v bottom of the FA WSL 2  table with Sunderland on 3 for 3 and Durham on 0 for 3. Durham obviously plying their trade at that level for the first time and learning.

 

Group 3

Notts County v Aston Villa

FA Cup semi-finalist stacked with international players against a team currently struggling in WSL 2 due to the lack of goals ( 1 in 3). Home team favourite to win it.

Bristol v Oxford

Bottom of the table Oxford in WSL 2 away to the Vixens who won their last game away to Man City. Another home win would be logical.

Yeovil v Birmingham

The Champions League semi-finalist will be back in domestic business and will certainly try to stamp their autority on the competition. Yeovil are currently flying high in 3rd place in WSL 2 and offering their attacking football brand. It will be interesting to see if Blues play their best 11 or rotate the squad as they did against Everton.

 

Reminder : only the group winners and best runner-up will qualify for the semi-finals.

Recent changes in Liverpool Ladies’ attacking pattern

Image

Following Liverpool Ladies recent lack of firepower in the last 2 games 0-0 at Chelsea in the League and 0-2 against Everton in the Cup, here is a  little drawing showing the changes between the 2013 title winning team and the injury hit team that started against Everton. This is based on the game shown on tv v City and the Chelsea v Liverpool game that I attended, where Liverpool finished the match with the system and players that started v Everton.

There are 5 changes from the 2013 wining team, both wingers are gone : Rolser due to an ACL injury and Fors on loan in Sweden.  Davison and development team player Hodson replace them. Gibbons is in goal deputising for Stout who is injured and replaced Laws/Quantrill. Easton is playing at right back rather than Bronze who has shifted to center back to replace Engen who has gone to Tyreso as soon as the 2013 season was over.

The main difference is the lack of penetration on the flanks for the 2014 team. As seen on the right drawing the attacking threat comes mainly from 3 players now Dowie, Davison and Da Costa. It is easy for a well prepared team to defend against that organisation as attacking might be a bit asymetrical.

If we look at the 2013 team, the threat was coming from 6 different players with the Bronze & Fors pairing on the right, Schroeder & Rolser on the left plus Da Costa supporting Dowie from attacking midfield. It was a lot harder to defend against those 6 players especially if you added Williams’ capacity to switch the ball quickly from one wing to the other. If you look at last year’s video on the FA WSL websites you will see many runs to the byline and an overall extensive use of both wings with cutbacks and crosses that brought many goals for Reds.

From what I have noticed this season, Schroeder does not seem to go forward as much as last season from left back position. Easton or Harris from right-back don’t have the same speed to burn as Bronze to overlap on the wing. Davison is also a different winger from Fors as the Swedish player used to come inside more with her left foot which allowed Bronze  to overlap naturally with her pace. 2 attacking options gone and if you add the lack of experience for Hodson as she is learning her trade at senior level, there are only 3 main threat, hence unexpected difficulties for the champions.

The main reason for Liverpool’s relative struggle is actually bad luck. You would have guessed that prior to the start of the season Matt Beard had planned to have an attacking trident   of Davison, Dowie and Rolser with Staniforth, Longhurst and Zelem backing them up and competing for the shirt. As of today the 29th of April, only 2 of those 6 players are fit to play with Rolser and Staniforth on long term-injuries and Zelem out for a little while.  4 out of your 6 main attackers  injured is too much for any team. We shall see if Liverpool comes on the market during the Summer window to prepare for the Champions League campaign. Quality players will be available to reinforce the Reds’ attack and they need to reach the mid season break without damages.

FA WSL 2 matchday 3 table and results

Sunderland 5 Reading 2

Aston Villa 0 Sunderland 3

Durham  1 Watford 2

Milwall 2 London Bees 2

Oxford 0 Yeovil 1

Table

1.Doncaster Belles 9 pts +8

—————————————-

2. Sunderland 9 pts + 6

3. Yeovil Town 6 pts +2 up 4 places

4. Millwall Lionesses 5 pts +3 down 1 place

5. Watford Ladies 5 pts +1 up 2 places

6. London Bees 4 pts 0

7. Reading Women 3 pts -1 down 3 places

8. Aston Villa 1 pt -3

9. Durham Women 0 pt -6 down

10. Oxford United 0 pt -7

 

Sunderland and Doncaster are keeping their 100% record intact and lead the table with 9 pts in 3. Title contender Reading see their challenge starting to collapse a bit as they are already 6 points behind the leaders after loosing to both teams in the last 2 games.  Yeovil Town climb up to 3rd place after winning at bottom of the table Oxford who are still pointless. Same situation with Durham beaten at home by Watford now climbing up to 5th and still unbeaten. The other team still unbeaten are Millwall that drew 2-2 at the Den with London Bees. Both side have 5 points in 3 games.

Match Day 4 will be played on the 17th and 18 th of May with

Yeovil Town v Aston Villa

Doncaster v Watford

Millwall v Oxford

Reading v Durham

Sunderland v Bees

 

 

 

 

FA Women’s Premier League Cup final Cardiff City v Sheffield FC 04th of May

Tickets are now on sale by calling 01283 565 938 or emailing  ticketing@burtonalbionfc.co.uk.

The game will be played at the Pirelli Stadium on Sunday the 4th of May at 2pm

Sheffield FC Ladies have won the FA WPL Northen Division they have 45 points with 4 games to go while second place Forest have 32 with 2 games to play and third placed Stoke have 29 with 3 games to play.

In the FA WPL Southern Division, Gillingham have a 5 points lead over Coventry with a game in hand for the Sky Blues. Portsmouth, the sole non FA WSL representative in the FA Women’s Cup are thrid and 7 points behind Gills.

Tickets are priced at £5 for adults and £2.50 for children and concessions. A £10 family ticket is also available (two adults and two children).
Read more at http://www.thefa.com/news/fawsl/2014/apr/fa-womens-premier-league-cup-final-cardiff-sheffield-burton-tickets#tBQhB0ow4l6z12xY.99
Tickets are priced at £5 for adults and £2.50 for children and concessions. A £10 family ticket is also available (two adults and two children).
Read more at http://www.thefa.com/news/fawsl/2014/apr/fa-womens-premier-league-cup-final-cardiff-sheffield-burton-tickets#tBQhB0ow4l6z12xY.99

FA Women’s Cup Round 6 preview

Liverpool v Everton played Saturday 26th of April at 7 pm

Liverpool current form is good, the only worry is the level of injuries in the attacking positions with Rolser, Staniforth and Zelem out at the moment. When Longhurst got injured last Sunday, Liverpool play went a bit monodimensional and easier to defend against for the opposition. Everton will be hoping to bounce back from the home defeat to Notts and erase all the little mistakes that cost them the game on Sunday. It is the Merseyside derby so form can go out of the window. Brown-Finnis and Parris will have to be at their best to upset the Champions. Prediction home win

 

Portsmouth FC Ladies v Notts County played Sunday the 27th of April at 2 pm

Notts are favourite and currently top of the League,  have the top goalscorer as well in Jess Clarke and are very solid in defense. An underdog win would please a lot of people who support the WPL against the FA  current handling of the winter game. It is unlikely to happen, although Pompey have forwards to trouble the Notts backline but keeping them at bay will need a giant defensive performance like Birmingham did against Tyreso recently.  Prediction away win

Manchester City v Chelsea played Sunday the 27th of April at 2pm

City still looking for their first point in the League wont be favourite against a Chelsea team deprived of playmaker Ji So-Yun following her controversial red card against Liverpool. They welcomed  Katie Chapman who made her debut as a sub and Rachel Williams has been in the squad but not started a game yet.  prediction away win

 
Birmingham City v Arsenal will be played on Sunday the 4th  of May due to the Champions League semi-final 2nd leg in Tyreso.

As usual the FA plan games at the same time as the Champions League games, this lead to inbalance in schedule and teams playing catch up in the League. Would they plan a league matchday at the same time as the Athletico v Chelsea game for example ? probably not allowed by UEFA…

FA WSL 1 table and results 20/04/14

Chelsea 0 Liverpool 0

Everton 0 Notts County 2

Man City 0 Bristol 2

 

Table

1. Notts County 4 pts pl 2 +2

2. Chelsea 4 pts pl 2 +2

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3. Liverpool 4 pts pl 2 + 1

4. Bristol Academy 3 pts pl 2 0

5. Arsenal Ladies 1 pt pl 1 0

6. Birmingham City 1 pt pl 1 0

7. Everton  1 pt pl 2  -2

———————————

8. Man City 0 pt pl 2 – 3

Notts County are top of the League taking advantage of the goalless draw between Chelsea and Liverpool. They won 2-0 at Everton, while Bristol managed to get out of the starting block with a win at Man City. City still pointless after playing the top 2 teams from last season.

Matchday 3 will take place on the 18th of May and City will need to improve as they travel to Arsenal. Birmingham will host Chelsea, Everton will be at home to Bristol and Notts County will test their title credential against reigning champions Liverpool.

 

 

Refereeing, assistant etc

I went to Chelsea Liverpool, it was a great game under difficult conditions and both teams tried to win and play football, although the defenses did play it safe at time as you don’t want to loose a game because you slip up on the pitch and give the ball away stupidly to a forward.

The heavy rain meant the pitch was quick and sliding was dangerous. So you would hope the referee would use common sense and protect the players’ physical integrity ?

Let’s have a list of incidents that happened in front of me during the game. I was standing next to the team bench in the 1st half and behind Libby Stout’s goal in the 2nd half.

1. Dowie and Flaherty tangle in the penalty area, Dowie ask for a for a foul and a penalty, Flaherty is on the floor injured, she was hit in the face straight in front of the assistant referee. Suspicion of elbowing or slapping due to visible arm movement. Assistant says nothing to the referee although he has seen the action. The same assistant referee misjusdged at least 3 offsides decision in that half as well.

2. Easton slide tackle quite strongly or over zealously depending on how you see it, Blundell is injured and out of the game for a few minutes nothing given. According to law 12 a card should have been given to Easton.

3. Ogimi slides and kick Stout in the head. Stout is subbed and nothing is given against Ogimi. Same case as Easton a yellow or red card should as been given according to LOTG 12.

4. Ji So-Yun is bodychecked/kicked in the leg in the penalty area and goes down, the referee books her for diving while it is obvious that the defender made contact with her. 2nd booking and therefore red card, she had been previously booked for diving in the first half ( I did not see the incident). So Chelsea could have had a penalty and get a red card instead ? Bizzare quality of refereeing for sure.

Violent conduct, use of excessive force, serious foul play  all that happened according to the law  of the games  and nothing was  given during the game.
That referee and his assistant were not serious and question should be asked by the FA and the game should be reviewed. You cannot have top quality football mixed with poor refereeing. Not to mention 2 players ended up being injured in that game. Is this called game management ?

For the record, I did many games running the line and a couple in the middle in Sunday League  when no referee came but safety was clearly a problem with players and their friends around the pitch threatening you.

 

FA WSL 2 table and results 20/04/14

Watford 1 Aston Villa 1

Yeovil Town 4 London Bees 1

Sunderland 3 Reading 2

Durham 1 Millwall 4

 

Table

1.Doncaster Belles 6 pts +5

—————————————-

2. Sunderland 6 pts + 3 up 2 places

3. Millwall Lioness 4 pts + 3 up 2 places

4. Reading women 3 pts +2 down 1 place

5. London Bees 3 pts 0 down 3 places

6. Yeovil Town 3 pts 0 up 3 places

7. Watford Ladies 2 pts 0 down 1 place

8. Aston Villa Ladies 1 pt -2

9. Durham Women 0 pt -5 down 2 places

10. Oxford United 0 pt -6

 

Sunderland won the promotion favourites’ clash with an added time goal but does not top the table as Doncaster Belles have a better goal difference. Millwall Lionesses climb up to 3rd thanks to a Lillie Billson hat trick at Durham. Yeovil Town also climb up the table with their 4-1 home win over former leaders London Bees. Watford are still unbeaten with 2 draws in 2. Oxford United and Durham Women at the bottom of the table are still looking for their first point.

Match day 3 in Division 2 will be played next week-end while the FA Cup ties are in progress :

Another title pretenders clash between Doncaster and Reading, Astonv Villa v Sunderland, Durham v Watford, Millwall v London Bees, Oxford United v Yeovil Town

 

FA WSL games 20/04/14 preview

We have 7 games today, 3 in FA WSL 1 and 4 in FA WSL 2. Both leagues with a title contenders clash. Pretty interesting so early in the season. Division 2 allows to catch up on mistakes/ defeat with 18 games while Division 1 just punishes you. Remember what a certain team players where claiming in the 1st ever season : “it is not a sprint it is a marathon”, well that team never caught up with the top 2 because it was a sprint.

Chelsea v Liverpool

Top of the table clash with two heavyweight title contenders. Last season Chelsea was one of the two team that managed to beat Liverpool. They can do it again. They have recruited well with leaders and winners all over the pitch. Liverpool are the holders and have quality all over the pitch as well but the injuries have deprived them of creative players that can make a difference in big games. Davison Dowie and Longhurst will have to be efficient and clinical. Ogimi So Yun Aluko and Williams should provide the attacking fireworks for Chelsea

Everton v Notts County
Mid table clash with 2 teams who had a good start of their 2014 season. They went the opposite way in their recruitement campaign : internationals from many country for Notts and young english players plus internal promotion for Everton. Ellen White is said to have done her ACL but there is no official news. Quite an even game and a draw might be a possibility.

Man City v Bristol
Bottom of th table clash with those two team fighting to avoid relegation…after 1 game which does not mean much really, except one thing. 3 years history in the FA WSL has told us that no one qualified for the champions league with more than 2 defeats. So if there is any looser in this game they can say good bye to the Champions League 2015/16.
City could have got something out of the Liverpool game and will be confident of their strength. Bristol are coming off 2 consecutive defeats against Chelsea and will need to wake up and play to their full potential. I can see them hit City on the break with Del Rio and Harding. Vixens win for me.

Sunderland v Reading
Title contenders clash in Division 2 with the winner levelling in points with Donny Belles. Difficult to predict that one with 2 strong teams. It should be a close game and a draw might happen and suit the Belles.

Yeovil v London Bees
Former top team v former bottom.
I expect a very even game with Yeovil developping their trademark attacking football and London Bees with their physical strength mixed with creativity. Another close game to call, so I will say another draw.

Durham v Millwall
The home team opened their season with a 4-2 defeat to title challengers Sunderland and will be looking to open their account. Millwall have lost their main striker Emma Whitter to injury so will play a bit differently. They are strong and bully any opponent that show weaknesses. Another intriguing contest. I can see another draw here as well.

Watford v Aston Villa
Excellent work rate coupled with talent up front against talented youth. I have seen the equivalent game in the National Division last season and it was an easy Hornets win. I will go again for the home side win but it should be a tight one.