The fourth round of WSL fixtures take place over the weekend, with a couple of particularly mouthwatering fixtures to look forward to.
Tottenham host unbeaten Manchester United on Saturday, before the first ‘big three’ clash of the WSL season on Sunday as Chelsea host Manchester City.
90min caught up with former Tottenham and Chelsea forward – and ex Arsenal physio – Wendy Martin to preview the fixtures.
The club were in the fifth tier when Hills took the hot seat in 2007, and 13 years on they’re a top flight, fully professional outfit with Alex Morgan on their books.
“I don’t think there are any words to describe what they’ve done,” said Martin, who achieved two promotions with Spurs between 2011 and 2019.
“They’ve both got a real drive for success, they always want more for the girls and the club, they’ve got a phenomenal amount of knowledge and experience between them and I think that’s been key to the progress the team has made.
“Juan’s tactical knowledge and the preparation that goes into putting in a strategy and a game plan together is incredible. In the team meetings and the analysis meetings he looks at every single finer detail of the game.”
Manchester United‘s success has been a result of a lot of investment in a short amount of time, and they ran away with the Championship title during the 2018/19 season, with Spurs second.
United did the double over Spurs the following season and finished three places above them in the WSL, but Martin insists despite United’s quality, the gulf between the pair is closing once more.
“When we competed in the Championship against Manchester United there were clear disparities between the significant and quick investment that was put into the football club and the level of support they had. You could see that disparity,” she added.
“But Spurs are very organised and have got a fantastic team spirit and work ethic, and those underpinning traits will provide them with a platform to compete with some of the best teams.
“I think Man Utd will be competing with the top three this year. I think it’s going to be tough for Spurs, but equally I think if they execute the game plan in place, they can get something on Saturday.”
Despite United bringing in two World Cup winners, it was Spurs pulled off the blockbuster transfer of the window when they signed sporting icon Alex Morgan.
Spurs scored just 15 times in 15 games last season, and bringing in a player with 107 international goals to her name is a pretty spectacular way for the club to address their problems in front of goal.
“She’s what Tottenham have been missing,” said Martin. “She’s unpredictable, she’s very adaptable in her play; she runs in behind, she drops to feet, she scores with her left foot, her right foot, she scores with her head.
“Speaking to one of the girls at training, in Alex’s first training session they did a shooting drill and they said: ‘She literally scored every single goal.’ It’s that sort of clinical finishing that Spurs will benefit from.”
Manchester City were slightly unconvincing at the start of the new season under new boss Gareth Taylor and were comfortably beaten by Chelsea in the Community Shield the last time these two met.
However, they appear to have clicked over the last two weeks. City were unplayable at times during their FA Cup quarter final victory over Arsenal and followed this up with a comprehensive win over Spurs, before inflicting Everton‘s first defeat of the season on Wednesday evening.
Have the Citizens already found their feet so soon into Taylor’s tenure?
“The benefit Man City have is they have a lot of regular England internationals in the setup so not only do they have the connection of playing at club level, that is then reinforced at international level as well,” said Martin.
“I think that unity and that knowledge of how they play will always make them a threat.”
Chelsea and Manchester City have enjoyed some memorable encounters down the years – from City’s 2-1 victory in 2014 to deny Chelsea the WSL crown on the final day of the season, to the pulsating 3-3 draw last season that ultimately resulted in the Blues claiming the title.
Emma Hayes has been at the helm for every top flight clash between the pair, and she is someone Martin has known since she was Arsenal physio and Hayes was the Gunners’ number two between 2006 and 2008.
“I came across Emma Hayes when she was Vic Akers assistant,” Martin explained. “Even then her knowledge of the game, her attention to detail was absolutely incredible.
“Seeing that I’m not surprised she’s having the success that she is with Chelsea. They know how to frustrate City; I think they frustrated them in the Community Shield.”
In terms of strength in depth, you don’t get much better than Chelsea and Manchester City.
From Pernille Harder to Rose Lavelle, Melanie Leupolz to Sam Mewis, the pair have spent the transfer window making their squads even more enviable.
It is up front in particular where Hayes and Taylor have a real selection headache on their hands, and some of the finest attacking talent in the WSL will be on display on Sunday.
“I love watching Ellen White play,” added Martin. “What I love about Ellen is her work ethic and her work rate, on the pitch she’s always trying to chase the ball down, close the ball down.
“And Chelsea, they’ve got goals in them. Fran Kirby’s back, Sam Kerr’s obviously a threat, and then you’ve got Millie Bright scoring outrageous goals from distance – so they’ve got goals all over the pitch. “
This season BT Sport is showing more Barclays FA Women’s Super League matches than ever before. Watch Tottenham Women vs Manchester United Women on Saturday 10 October on BT Sport 3 from 12pm, and Chelsea Women vs Manchester City Women on Sunday 11 October on BT Sport 1 from 2pm.