Here’s a team of the week for Matchday 21, comprising the games played on the 20th and 21st May 2023. On the penultimate day, it was all still to play for, but it might not be come the end of play…
GK: Ann-Katrin Berger (Chelsea)
LB: Hannah Blundell (Manchester United)
CB: Maya Le Tissier (Manchester United)
CB: Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea)
CB: Millie Turner (Manchester United)
RB: Ona Battle (Manchester United)
CDM: Sophie Ingle (Chelsea)
LCM: Guro Reiten (Chelsea)
CM: Angharad James (Tottenham Hotspur)
RCM: Kirsty Hanson (Aston Villa)
ST: Beth England (Tottenham Hotspur)
Two teams heavily focused on here, the two that can still achieve the ultimate win. On the other end of the scale, those that are still within the grasp of the spindly fingers of the ultimate defeat see only Aileen Whelan garner a shout-out as she drags inspiration from her Leicester side while Reading require a minor miracle on the final day when they take on league leaders Chelsea — one of the sides with four reps in this week’s top team. The Blues and their rivals championed in defence against other members of the fab four, Ann-Katrin Berger putting in her personal performance of the season to keep Arsenal out, while Magdalena Eriksson added some gloss to her solidity with a goal, in what will be her final home appearance. Sophie Ingle spearheaded the defence, pulling them forward from the back, and that produced a goal for player of the season candidate Guro Reiten as she never fails to maintain a threat down her side. But the rest of that defensive juggernaut is made up of Chelsea’s final day title rivals Manchester United. Though The Red Devils can count Hayley Ladd and Nikita Parris among their near-calls, it is across that back-line where they threw bodies on the line against city rivals to ensure those further forward had something left to play for. Mille Turner and Maya Le Tissier blocked what could possibly and feasibly be blocked, while Batlle and Blundell joined them before racing forwards to make a telling contribution at the other end — a herculean effort from all involved.
This top two dominance does mean the other ten take somewhat of a backseat, even with Spurs powering to a win thanks to the apparently undeniable goals of Beth England and the industry of Angharad James (not to mention the surprising wand of a boot Molly Bartrip wears on either foot and the unity in play of Celin Bizet). Finally, Villa’s rep is Kirsty Hanson, who really drove herself to her two goals against Liverpool. Speaking of Liverpool, they are perhaps most unfortunate not to have members in this squad, with the mightily impressive Taylor Hinds and Emma Koivisto missing out in wing-back positions, while two-goal Katie Stengel couldn’t get her brace ahead of the others.
From the beaten two of the fab four, Victoria Pelova put in a mighty shift for Arsenal against odds that never seemed to let up, while Chloe Kelly, in a continuous team and player of the season effort, was inches away on many an occasion from putting her side’s local enemy to the sword. Filippa Angeldahl’s goal should not overshadow her commanding performance in the middle of the pitch either. Elsewhere, West Ham saw off Leicester in a struggle, with Risa Shimizu and Grace Fisk standing out, while Everton fought to victory against Brighton, in which each of the three goalscorers (Katie Robinson for Brighton, Hanna Bennison and Katja Snoeijs for Everton) put in mighty performances, as well as Karen Holmgaard for The Toffees. Their efforts may be overshadowed by events at one end of the table, but it makes them no less impressive.
I know Guro Reiten’s volley was hecka smooth and Katie Robinson’s lob was pretty schmick, but Spurs’ second — a flowing move from Spence to Neville to James to England to Spence to James to Summanen to Bizet to a goal? Poetry in motion.
As for player of the week, I could nominate the entire Manchester United defence, but I think I’ll go for the gloved one on the blue side — Ann-Katrin Berger and her mighty performance.
Keep it streets ahead,