Here’s a team of the week for Matchday 2, comprising the games played on the 6th and the 8th October 2023. One eleventh of the way through this season and shape has already commenced. Perhaps not the final shape, but it remains a telling one nonetheless…
GK: Janina Leitzig (Leicester City)
LB: Taylor Hinds (Liverpool)
CB: Alanna Kennedy (Manchester City)
CB: Grace Fisk (Liverpool)
RB: Emma Koivisto (Liverpool)
CDM: Yui Hasegawa (Manchester City)
LCM: Lia Wälti (Arsenal)
CM: Sam Tierney (Leicester City)
RCM: Lauren James (Chelsea)
CAM: Missy Bo Kearns (Liverpool)
ST: Riko Ueki (West Ham United)
Mackenzie Arnold proved her mettle as Hammers captain for the second week on the spin with a measured performance and Khiara Keating did everything but score in attempting to take all three points away from the defending champions for Manchester City, but Janina Leitzig is my favourite player at the moment, compounded by a double save; first from the penalty spot and then the follow-up. That alone would get her in, but the solidity around that moment play her on as well. We get our first streaker in the team as Alanna Kennedy pops in at centre-back for the second week running, essentially for the same reasons as Keating above, and she is partnered by a trio in red — Grace Fisk commanded the back-line and allowed Liverpool’s most deadly weapon to rage; THE WING-BACKS. Hinds and Koivisto ran Villa ragged and it’s a credit to Sarah Mayling that she kept up with any of the former. They got back, they sprang forward, you can’t ask for much more. Ella Powell stood out despite another defeat for Bristol City, and Man U’s Gabby George looked more settled than the previous week, with Laia Aleixandri really coming on this season for Man City.
We’ll go right up top first ‘cos there’s so much to mention in the middle. Alessia Russo had her first great game for Arsenal, and despite not scoring, she would’ve been in this team… Had it not been for the industry, and the goal, of Riko Ueki. She was everywhere you’d want a striker to be, and looked happy to be there, claiming her, and eventually her side’s, reward. Now for the middle. Yui Hasegawa gets in ahead of her match-mate Jelena Čanković, simply because she played the whole game. Yes the Chelsea midfielder’s presence changed the game completely in her side’s favour, but Hasegawa was one who went wire to wire in what ended up as a heroic performance (by footballing standards) for The Citizens. In Missy Bo Kearns, Liverpool have got their Steven Gerrard — not to big her up too much — and it seems she excels more and more every week (going as far as keeping out Mersey Blue Hanna Bennison this time). As for the other three positions, Wälti, Tierney, and James have been chosen because they are the ones who bossed the most — they were Pitch Generals, and pitch perfect near enough. They kept their side moving, or more importantly, got them moving, producing killer plays that created chances for their sides. They had a tough-go of getting in the side too, ‘cos competition wasn’t short — a shout-out to: West Ham’s Vivianne Asseyi and Lisa Evans, Leicester’s Missy Goodwin, Jutta Rantala, and Aileen Whelan, Liverpool’s Ceri Holland, Man U’s Lucia Garcia, Man City’s Jill Roord, Bristol City’s Amy Rodgers, and Spurs’ Eveliina Summanen.
Tierney and Riko were certainly in the running for Player Of The Week, but I just felt it had to be defensive, and despite the heroics of Manchester pair Hasegawa and Kennedy, Taylor Hinds’ performance silenced a side on the rise while putting them to the sword, so she’s got it this week. As for Goal Of The Week… I do love the fact that Chloe Kelly just battered one in, and Lawley’s run combined with Flint’s turn and finish for Liverpool was lovely, Summanen’s sumptuous free-kick is also up there, but you don’t get much better than a late late banger, this one coming from Arsenal’s Cloé Lacasse against Manchester United.
Keep it streets ahead,