Women’s Super League Team of the Week — Matchday 12

3 min readFeb 4, 2024

Here’s a team of the week for Matchday 12, comprising the games played on the 27th and 28th of January 2024. Tetchy, tetchy, tetchy affairs. Some teams having to remind themselves who they are and proving that higher gear while others must scrap to find out.

GK: Lize Kop (Leicester City)
LB: Niamh Charles (Chelsea)
CB: Maya Le Tissier (Manchester United)
CB: Laia Aleixandri (Manchester City)
RB: Emily Fox (Arsenal)
LM: Caitlin Foord (Arsenal)
CM: Lisa Naalsund (Manchester United)
CM: Saori Takarada (Leicester City)
RM: Heather Payne (Everton)
CAM: Fran Kirby (Chelsea)
ST: Lauren James (Chelsea)

The majority of these games were dominated by one side, but not convincingly so. Attackers would eventually cash in, but it was the middle of the park this week that granted them the opportunity to obtain the payoff.
Firstly, the Chelsea trio on this list. At this point, Lauren James seems a no-brainer week-in, week-out — she is simply undeniable. Her left-sided teammates got her to where she needed to be on this matchday, with Guro Reiten building from Niamh Charles’ work to feed Fran Kirby who would pass on to James. Melanie Leupolz also did a great job of tidying up any failed ventures and gettin’ ’em kicked off again. But while Leupolz was one of several middlers to miss out, Reiten is unfortunate; if she was to have put away just one of her many chances against Brighton, she could well be more than an honourable mention, but Caitlin Foord’s industry in Arsenal’s hard-fought win against Liverpool forged a deserved goal that sees her claim the spot. Victoria Pelova is another impressive middler (as she is every week now) who misses out, but Emily Fox holds off the challenge from Leicester’s Janice Cayman to make the team thanks to her fire flying forward and solidity staying south. Speaking of Leicester, Takarada was the pivot on their pitch, being a part of every move and dictating the play across the park, allowing Shannon O’Brien et al to light it up. The Foxes also claim the goalkeeper spot (what else is new?) but instead of Janina Leitzig, it’s Lize Kop standing firm, getting in ahead of her opposite number on the day Courtney Brosnan. The Irish stopper does see teammate Heather Payne make the side though as she proved a menace in the best game Everton have played in weeks.
That leaves a pair of centre-backs and one more middler, and it’s a whole Mancunian trio. Laia Aleixandri has slotted neatly into the middle of The Citizens’ defence, nary a qualm there, and the accompaniment of Maya Le Tissier in this team is just another impressive stride on her way to an almost certain Team Of The Season inclusion. Lisa Naalsund is the final name on the list, with the Manchester United midfielder playing the lynchpin between attack and defence more than admirably — cool and calm, with impeccable execution of her visions. Her compatriots Hannah Blundell and (especially) Nikita Parris are two more to miss out, the latter simply being on one on the day — just a shame for her that Lauren James was too.
Elsewhere, Lauren Hemp continued to impress — day after day, week after week, year after year — Grace Clinton proved to be the head of Spurs’ resurgence, and West Ham’s Honoka Hayashi and Viviane Asseyi were not only the goalscorers for their win but their MVPs, the latter taking up her further-forward role with the former dashing about the middle of the park like a woman possessed.

Player Of The Week was gonna be one of the central midfielders whose calmness pressed their teams on to narrow victories. However, in a match that must have felt like a slog, Emily Fox was a constant livewire whose presence could well have spelled a very different result for her side at a vital time (when isn’t it vital?). As for Goal Of The Week, the five contenders including Viviane Miedema, Janice Cayman, Honoka Hayashi, and Lauren James twice. I was a big fan of Cayman’s turn and swizz, but James’ first-time strike to break the deadlock for Chelsea against Brighton was a catalyst — a thunderbolt that brought the beast to life.

Keep it streets ahead,