Women’s Super League Team of the Week — Matchday 4

C.L.R.
4 min readOct 30, 2023

Here’s a team of the week for Matchday 4, comprising the games played on the 21st and the 22nd October 2023. The early-season surprises have had a chance to prove they’re not a one-week wonder, and those pushing for the peak have had time to stake their claim — shape is being taken, and while it’s never too late, certainly not know… It’s also too early to tell.

GK: Janina Leitzig (Leicester City)
LCB: Jess Carter (Chelsea)
CB: Sophie Howard (Leicester City)
RCB: Luana Bühler (Tottenham Hotspur)
LCM: Katie Zelem (Manchester United)
CM: Grace Clinton (Tottenham Hotspur)
RCM: Victoria Pelova (Arsenal)
LAM: Sjoeke Nüsken (Chelsea)
CAM: Nikita Parris (Manchester United)
RAM: Katie McCabe (Arsenal)
ST: Martha Thomas (Tottenham Hotspur)

I swear I’m not on Janina Leitzig’s payroll. Despite her slight error which produced the only goal of the game in her side’s defeat to Manchester City, Janina and her fellow defenders kept out the sky blue menace with immense gumption for the rest of the game; hence Sophie Howard’s inclusion in the squad — a stalwart throughout. CJ Bott also gets a shout-out. The ‘keeper’s inclusion follows the script for performances between the sticks this week though, with two other stoppers on the losing end showing up despite defeat; Brighton’s Sophie Baggaley did all she could to quash the champions’ goal threat (but naturally, one can only do so much) and Bristol City’s Olivia Clark looked defiant in the maiden appearance of her season. While defiant might best describe the Leicester contingent of the defence, progressive can be added to the adjectives of the other two, with Jess Carter always looking to trot on up, and Luana Bühler blocking and starting the build from the back for Spurs. This keeps out the occasionally ill-positioned but ever-recovering Alanna Kennedy of Man City, Brighton’s tireless warrior Guro Bergsvand, Bristol City’s alert Jamie-Lee Napier, as well as Noelle Maritz of Arsenal and Jayde Riviere of Manchester United.
Continuing this tricky kind of 3–3–3–1 formation, the midfield contains somewhat of a masterclass in playmaking. Katie Zelem just knows how to kick a ball — a talent ever so important. Grace Clinton is much the same, with her profile (and that of her teammates) continuing to blossom under new management that really seems to understand how to exhibit such talent. Victoria Pelova drifted and flew and floated through her game; when one makes the game seem so effortless, they shan’t be denied. Progressing to the advanced midfield, Nikita Parris reminded everyone what she’s capable of — things we’ve only seen in flashes across the past few seasons — as she dominated Everton, almost single-handedly at times. Parris had the running of the game from the first whistle and didn’t release until the last. Either side of Nikita we have Sjoeke Nüsken and Katie McCabe. The former played as a focal point in a team with Sam Kerr and it worked a charm, just drifting in behind to seemingly clean up what was left, when it was her own to clean up all along. The latter is playing the best football in the league; Katie McCabe is dangerous, whether it be in the league or internationally, in any cup or competition, she is a serious contender for most in-form (in other words, ‘best’) player in the world right now. These lot kept some big names at bay to achieve their berth:- Shannon O’Brien of Leicester (cool passion), Jessica Naz of Spurs (reborn), Katie Robinson of Brighton (head of creative), Jill Roord of Manchester City (unstoppable), Ceri Holland of Liverpool (linchpin), and a Chelsea double in Fran Kirby (great to be back) and Sophie Ingle (master and commander).
Now, for the head of the table. When a striker keeps out the likes of Khadija Shaw at Manchester City, Sam Kerr at Chelsea, and super-sub Rachel Williams at Manchester United, you know they’ve had a good week. While Shaw and Kerr had tremendous performances, a goal wouldn’t have hurt their cause. And while Williams had goals (two of ‘em), minutes could have seen her in. But no, ‘cos when Martha Thomas walked away with the match-ball against Aston Villa, this was already written. Maybe the best hat-trick you’re gonna see — a lob, a thunderous slobber-knocker, and a first-time finesse. Take a bow.

Player Of The Week is as seen above in the hyperbole. You’ve got Sophie Howard cosplaying as a wall, Katie Zelem and Nikita Parris tearing teams to shreds, and Katie McCabe putting in her application for best in the world, but I’m sorry, you just cannot top that hat trick. All put sides to the sword (or shield) at one point or another, but none quite like Martha Thomas. When it comes to Goal Of The Week, she’s got a shout too. But which one? As lovely as the opportunistic lob was, as well as the slammer-jammer for number two, it’s gotta be the first-time pinpoint placement beyond van Domselaar that takes the GOTW. It also beats out Katie McCabe’s powerfully placed first against Bristol City, as Martha takes McCabe’s two-for-two crown from last week and places it firmly on her own bonce in a show of North London fire.

Keep it streets ahead,

C.L.R.

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