By Ali Rampling and Jamie Spencer
The WSL returns on Saturday after a weekend of FA Cup action, with six games to look forward to.
After three fixture games were compromised by weather during gameweek 11, this weekend could see all 12 WSL teams in action for only the second time this calendar year.
With crucial clashes at the top and bottom of the leaderboard, here’s everything to watch out for during gameweek 12 of the WSL.
Can Leicester build on first WSL win of the season?
Leicester secured their first WSL win of the season for the tenth time in their last league game, in a 3-0 win against Brighton.
However, they saw their match against Spurs postponed the following weekend, leaving a gap of three weeks between their first league win of the season and their next WSL fixture; Saturday’s challenge with the Champions League chasing Man City. Has the momentum gained been stunted?
Leicester e City of man they met in the Coppa Conti just over two weeks ago, with the Sky Blues needing a last-minute winner to cruise to a 1-0 victory.
“I think it could go against us, as they won’t take us lightly,” Kirk said of the cup clash between the two. “But that just means we have to improve our performance. I think we can do that.”
Leicester v Man City
When is kick-off? Saturday February 4, 11:30 (GMT)Where is the game played? King Power StadiumTV channel/live stream? Sky Sports Premier League (UK), FA Player (International)What time does coverage start in the UK? 11:00 (GMT)Referee? Amy Fearn
Can Brighton get their first WSL win under Jens Scheuer?
Brighton will be looking to put some light between themselves and basement side Leicester when they face Aston Villa on Sunday, their second WSL fixture under new manager Jens Scheuer.
The former Bayern Munich manager’s tenure got off to a nightmarish start as the Seagulls were thrashed 3-0 by relegation rivals Leicester to drag them closer to the drop zone. Scheuer secured his first win as Brighton manager against National League side West Brom in the FA Cup last time out, but remains on the hunt for his maiden wsl extension victory.
“The results are improving,” he said. “We are working hard in training and the team is adapting quickly. We have been together for four weeks now and it already shows what we are doing well.”
When is kick-off? Saturday February 4, 12:30 (GMT)Where is the game played? Bescot stadiumTV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK & International)Referee? Louise Saunders
All eyes on Alessia Russo
Manchester United withstood multiple world-record Arsenal approaches to Alessia Russo in the final two days of the January transfer window, with Everton making their first outing since this weekend.
Russo has been a key figure for United since the early stages of the 2021/22 season and is again the team’s top scorer in the WSL this season. Letting her go, even with less than six months remaining on her contract and no guarantee of signing a new one, would have weakened United massively while also bolstering a direct top 3 and title rival.
All eyes will be on Russo next Sunday in what has, if any, taken its toll on the saga.
United boss Marc Skinner was not involved in the process when offers from Arsenal were arriving, but spoke to Russo the morning after the transfer deadline which he described as an “easy conversation”. From Skinner’s point of view there is no problem with his attitude or his questions about being unstable.
“We had an excellent meeting, really positive. I can’t stress enough that Alessia is the nicest person, best girlfriend, great attitude, exactly someone we are trying to keep here and continue to negotiate on that. She wants to win here,” she explained.
“I can’t speak more highly of his attitude and the way he goes about his job. We shared a really good moment, she was very positive and she trained very well ”.
Manchester United vs Everton
When is kick-off? Sunday February 5, 12:00 (GMT)Where is the game played? Leigh Sports VillageTV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK & International)Referee? Emily Heaslip
The (WSL) return of Bethany England
Sunday’s clash with Chelsea it could be Bethany’s fourth England outing since joining Tottenham from the Blues in January – half of her appearances will have come against her former employees.
England won seven major trophies with Chelsea and were particularly instrumental in their 2019/20 WSL title triumph. But with her playing time reduced and the 2023 World Cup on the horizon, the striker made a move to Spurs to rejoin Sarina Wiegman’s squad. She has scored twice in her three appearances so far in north London.
“He’ll bring goals to that team,” said Emma Hayes. “He connects well, I think his leadership from the front, his experience in a team like ours, will give a lot to Tottenham’s front line and we certainly know the threats he will pose to our defence.”
Tottenham v Chelsea
When is kick-off? Sunday February 5, 12:30 (GMT)Where is the game played? Brisbane RoadTV channel/live stream? BBC Two, BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport Website (UK), FA Player (International)What time does coverage start in the UK? 12:15 (GMT)Referee? Abigail Byrne
How will Liverpool’s forward line be formed?
Liverpool have suffered a string of forward knocks this season; Last season’s top scorer Leanne Kiernan picked up an ankle injury on the opening day of the season and is expected to be sidelined until at least March, while star summer signing Shanice van de Sanden has seen her first half of the season cut short by a problem at the Achilles tendon.
The Dutch international has since sustained a knee injury during warm-ups ahead of the never-before-ever WSL match between Liverpool and Chelsea, and is set to be set aside for up to two months.
Liverpool signed striker Natasha Dowie on deadline day, the second member of Matt Beard’s 2013 and 2014 title-winning Liverpool side to rejoin the club in this window, following the arrival of Gemma Bonner in December.
“January is a tough window – there weren’t many strikers who were signed during the window,” Beard said. “Natasha’s agent reached out to us to see if there was interest and it was the same day we got Shanice’s scan results so we’ve been working really hard to get it done. It’s already had a big impact and the reaction of the girls in his comeback was fantastic.”
When is kick-off? Sunday February 5, 2.00 pm (GMT)Where is the game played? Preston ParkTV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK & International)Referee? Jane Simms
How will Arsenal deal with the failure to sign a striker in January?
Jonas Eidevall has been very public about his hopes of signing a prolific goalscorer throughout the January window, with the Gunners seeing world record offers for Alessia Russo rejected by Manchester United as the window ticked towards the deadline.
Arsenal they ultimately failed to increase their forward line, with the recalled youngster Gio Queiroz and Stina Blackstenius being the only recognized central forwards until the end of the season.
“I think you can have results, or you can have excuses. I don’t think you can have both,” Eidevall said when asked about the impact it could have on the title race. “And I want to try and have results.”
West Ham v Arsenal
When is kick-off? Sunday February 5, 18:45 (GMT)Where is the game played? Chigwell Construction StadiumTV channel/live stream? Sky Sports Football/Premier League/Main Event (UK), FA Player (International)What time does coverage start in the UK? 6.30pm (GMT)Referee? Richie Watkins
This article was originally posted on 90min.com as WSL 12 Game Week Preview: Six things to watch out for.