Chelsea go top! Women's Super League winners and losers as Man Utd & Arsenal slip up in title race

Sam Kerr Lauren James Chelsea Women 2022-23
Victory over Spurs in a five-goal thriller took the reigning champions to the top of the table after the Gunners and United both disappointed

Manchester United lost their place at the top of the Women's Super League table this weekend - and Chelsea were right there, ready to pounce.

The Blues, pursuing a record-breaking fourth successive title, picked up a 3-2 win over Tottenham shortly after United's goalless draw with Everton, putting them into first place as we officially entered the second half of the campaign.

Another 0-0, between Arsenal and West Ham, further tilted the scales in Chelsea's favour, while a win for Manchester City over Leicester made the race for the top three even more intense.

At the other end of the standings, Liverpool recorded a massive victory over Reading to ease their relegation fears but increase their opponents', particularly after Brighton's draw with Aston Villa on Saturday.

After an eventful weekend of action, here are GOAL's winners and losers...

  1. WINNER: Chelsea

    WINNER: Chelsea

    Emma Hayes' post-match interview on Sunday not only saw her give an answer that perfectly summed up the 3-2 win over Spurs, but also Chelsea's season so far.

    "It's one of those games that you know, across the course of a season, you've got to grind out a result," she said. "The important thing is the three points. Was it perfect? No, but it is about three points and we did enough for that to happen."

    The Blues are still to hit top form despite this being their 17th win of the campaign, from 20 games. They've only lost one of those, their opening match of the season, and the two draws were against Real Madrid and Arsenal.

    That form, combined with Manchester United dropping points against Everton, moved Hayes' side into top spot in the WSL this weekend, two points clear of the Red Devils and five ahead of the Gunners.

    We're only just past the halfway point in the WSL so there's a long way to go yet, but Chelsea continue to ensure they're in a fantastic position - while still having room to improve.

  2. LOSER: Arsenal

    LOSER: Arsenal

    It was almost fitting that Arsenal’s first WSL game without a goal in 12 months came in the same week they’d failed to sign United striker Alessia Russo for a world-record fee.

    The Gunners were keen to bring in another forward after ACL injuries to Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema, but were unable to successfully pursue any of their January targets, leaving them thin on attacking options for the remainder of the season.

    That lack of potency showed on Sunday evening as they dropped points in a goalless draw away at West Ham, allowing Chelsea to open a gap of five points between the two London rivals.

    The contrast between the Blues’ plethora of assets up top and Arsenal’s restricted numbers could be the difference in the title race, not because of quality but simply the ability to rotate, especially as the Women’s Champions League knockout rounds and the latter stages of the cup competitions approach.

    Arsenal will certainly hope not, though.

  3. WINNER: Gabby George

    WINNER: Gabby George

    There was no curse of the monthly awards for Everton's Gabby George this past weekend, as the WSL's Player of the Month for January continued her impressive form with a stand-out display against a Manchester United side who went into the game sat top of the league.

    A two-time England international, the 26-year-old has yet to establish herself as a regular in Sarina Wiegman's squads, often called up as an injury replacement during the Dutchwoman's reign so far.

    However, George is playing excellently at left-back for Everton at the moment - a position that the Lionesses are lacking options for.

    Rachel Daly is Wiegman's preferred choice on that side of the defence, but she's a forward by trade and therefore lacks the defensive nous needed at times.

    Demi Stokes, another option, has only featured twice for Man City in the league this season due to both injuries and increased competition for her place, while club-mate Alex Greenwood has almost exclusively been converted to a centre-back.

    It feels like there is a real opening for George to force her way into Wiegman's plans as a result and, if she keeps performing at this level, it'll be hard for the coach - in attendance for this game - to disagree.

  4. LOSER: Rehanne Skinner

    LOSER: Rehanne Skinner

    It's tough for Spurs at the moment. Rehanne Skinner's side suffered their sixth successive league defeat on Sunday, to new league leaders Chelsea.

    There's no shame in losing to the Blues, of course, especially not when the final score is 3-2. However, the performance underlined issues that have plagued Spurs throughout the season - issues that leave them just six points above the drop zone ahead of an incredibly tough run of games that includes visits from Manchester United and Arsenal, and a trip to Manchester City.

    Mistakes in possession meant they were the architects of their own downfall at times, while January signing Beth England was incredibly isolated for the majority of the game.

    That she was able to get on the scoresheet despite that shows the potential there is for this team to do well with such a top striker leading the line. But Skinner needs to find a way to get her more involved for that to be realised.

    The coach has a handful of important players unavailable to her due to long-term injuries - the creative Kit Graham, energetic forward Kyah Simon and the ever-reliable Ria Percival among them. That makes the problems she and her side are facing more complicated to solve.

    But something needs to be done to make this team tougher to beat and more potent in attack if Spurs want to stay out of a looming relegation battle. There are good pieces in this squad. Now, it's up to Skinner to put them together - even if she's got some missing.

  5. WINNER: Brighton

    WINNER: Brighton

    Last time Brighton were in WSL action, it could not have gone much worse. In Jens Scheuer's first game in charge, they were defeated 3-0 by bottom club Leicester. It was the Foxes' first points of the season, in their 10th game.

    That result reignited a relegation race that seemed to be becoming less and less of a possibility, such were Leicester's struggles in a league where only one team is demoted each year - and it dragged the Seagulls, especially, right in.

    However, after a couple of cup wins on the bounce, Brighton responded to that setback well this past weekend with a huge point away at high-flying Aston Villa.

    Defeats for Leicester, Spurs and Reading made Julia Zigiotti Olme's second-half equaliser even more significant, taking Brighton up a spot and giving them a little more breathing room.

    They are now unbeaten in three games in all competitions and are certainly taking a step in the right direction as they strive to stay in the division.

  6. LOSER: Reading
    Getty Images

    LOSER: Reading

    Reading were involved in the most important game in the WSL this weekend and, sadly for them, it did not go the way they needed it to.

    The Royals visited Liverpool on Sunday for a clash between two teams being sucked into a relegation battle, one which saw the hosts emerge victorious in a 2-0 result.

    It was an outcome that took the Reds up into eighth and eight points above the drop zone. The Royals, however, sank to second-from-bottom, where they sit four points above Leicester - having played two more games than the Foxes.

    Kelly Chambers' side have lost four on the bounce in the league now and need to turn things around quickly if they want to stay in the top flight, especially while Leicester are showing strong signs of resurgence.