Matildas Abroad: FA WSL Round 1 Talking Points

The FAWSL got underway and from goals to saves to assists, the Westfield Matildas were in the thick of the action.

These are three talking points from the weekend that was.

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A statement of intent from Arsenal

2018/19 FA WSL champions Arsenal FC have flown under the radar of late.  Arsenal is always in contention for the title but they got somewhat lost in the discussion.

Focus was squarely on Manchester City’s big American signings in Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle and Chelsea’s acquisition of Pernille Harder.  However, Joe Montemurro recruited well in the off season and the Gunners were looking to remind everyone that they are still in title conversation.

The Gunners’ game against Reading became a statement of intent, with the team from North London putting six past the Royals.

Steph Catley made her FA WSL debut and was quickly putting in a performance Australian fans would be used to. Kim Little – a Westfield W-League winner with Melbourne City – opened the scoring with a superb volley.

Vivianne Miedema added a brace and Jill Roord bagged a hat trick, with two assists from Caitlin Foord who came on in the 69th minute.

Danielle Carter’s 89th minute goal was a consolation for Reading, but Arsenal had well and truly sent a warning to the other teams.     

[MORE: Football Stories - Westfield Matildas in Europe]

A challenger to the big three

Manchester United hosting Chelsea posed itself as the clash of the round and it didn’t disappoint. The Blues entered the game as the reigning FAWSL champions, fresh from their Community Shield triumph last weekend.

Manchester United’s quick ascension up the English leagues has them poised as one of the contenders to challenge the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester City. This match would act as an indicator of just how close they were to the recently dominant big three.

It was Chelsea who got proceedings started with Sam Kerr scoring from close range following a Fran Kirby cross. Kerr continued to ask questions of United ‘keeper Mary Earps until she was substituted off in the 66th minute.

The Red Devils would find an equaliser in the 79th minute, with Jackie Groenen playing a square ball for Leah Galton to tap in.

Hayley Raso’s extremely long road to Everton debut

It took half a year for this moment to finally happen. In the 233 days between Hayley Raso signing and debuting for Everton, the attacker has had to contend with Olympic qualifiers, a broken nose, and a pandemic.

Raso played 71 minutes in a strong performance in the Everton front three. The Toffees would ultimately run out as 4-0 winners over Bristol City.

Lucy Graham stole the show with a hand in every one of the Toffees four goals, including this audacious, back heel scorpion assist.

Raso’s compatriots Chloe Logarzo and Ella Mastrantonio both played full matches, and will look to bounce back against Sam Kerr’s Chelsea.