Women’s Super League preview and predictions: Gameweek 12

After the Christmas holidays, a series of cancellations linked to Covid-19 and the ‘Dubai Gate’, the WSL returns with a full schedule this weekend for the first time since the opening week in December.

The title race is currently enticing, with just four points separating the top three teams – and excitingly, two of them will meet on Sunday.

Here’s a rundown of everything you need to know about every game this weekend.

Declan rice

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West Ham midfielder Declan Rice has become a target for Manchester United, who plan to challenge Chelsea for his signing this summer.

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Jackie Groenen, Jess Carter

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Chelsea vs Manchester United will see second place on the WSL leaders on Sunday – how to watch, team news, recent form and predictions.

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Jurgen Klopp, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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Match preview before the start of the match between Liverpool and Manchester United in the Premier League at Anfield.

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Aston Villa v Southampton - Premier League

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Premier League clash between Aston Villa and Everton on Sunday set to be postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak in the Villans camp

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Manchester City v Aston Villa

Georgia Stanway, Caroline Siems, Nat Haigh, Asmita Ale
Georgia Stanway scored a brace in the two teams’ last meeting | Harriet Lander / Getty Images

What time is the kick-off? 12:30 p.m. (GMT)
Where is it played?
The Academy stadium
TV channel / live broadcast?
Red button BBC, BBC iPlayer and FA Player

Manchester City can move up to one point from Arsenal in last Champions League spot with the win over second low Aston Villa, the side the Citizens beat on day one of the season for Gareth’s first competitive victory Taylor as the city manager.

However, Taylor’s squad will have to do it without Sam Mewis – arguably the WSL Player of the Season so far – and USWNT teammate Rose Lavelle, who are both on international assignments.

Villa, meanwhile, will look to bounce back from their midweek Continental Cup quarter-final loss to Bristol City, but could make their league debut when their successful arrival in January at Mana Iwabuchi.

Prediction: Manchester City 3-0 Aston Villa

Everton v Bristol City

Izzy Christiansen, Ingrid Moe Wold, Hayley Raso, Claire Emslie
Everton are without a league win in five | Visionhaus / Getty Images

What time is the kick-off? 1:00 p.m. (GMT)
Where is it played?
Walton Hall Park
TV channel / live broadcast? FA player

Matt Beard will take charge of Bristol City for the first time on Sunday for their trip to Everton. The former West Ham boss has been exposed as a temporary replacement for Tanya Oxtoby, who has started her maternity leave.

The Vixens haven’t had much to scream this season and have yet to taste WSL victory, but morale will be good after Ebony Salmon inspires them to a Cup quarterfinal victory. Mainland against Aston Villa on Wednesday. However, they will again be without the influential Sophie Baggaley, who has tested positive for Covid-19.

Everton will look to regain their form at the start of the season. Having started the campaign with four straight league wins, they have been WSL winless since October, but will be supported by news that Claire Emslie’s loan has become permanent.

Prediction: Everton 3-1 Bristol City

Reading vs Arsenal

Jill roord
Jill Roord scored a hat-trick in Arsenal’s last meeting. Reading | Alex Burstow / Getty Images

What time is the kick-off? 2:00 p.m. (GMT)
Where is it played?
Madejski Stadium
TV channel / live broadcast? FA player

After suffering a 5-0 humiliation at the hands of Chelsea the last time around, there is no break for Reading, as they face an Arsenal side who beat them 6-1 in September.

The game will see Danielle Carter face off against her former side, having left Arsenal for Reading this summer after more than a decade with the Gunners.

Arsenal can overtake Chelsea and move closer to leaders Manchester United with the victory. With the current top two meeting on Sunday, this weekend is a great opportunity for Arsenal to catch up at the top of the league.

Prediction: Play 1-4 Arsenal

Birmingham v Brighton

Carla Ward
Birmingham will likely have a small day shift to work with on Sunday | Catherine Ivill / Getty Images

What time is the kick-off? 2:00 p.m. (GMT)
Where is it played?
Damson park
TV channel / live broadcast? FA player

Birmingham were forced to call off last weekend’s game with Tottenham as a serious injury crisis associated with their small side meant they were unable to field a squad. Manager Carla Ward has confirmed they will have enough fit players to play on Sunday, and new signing Veatriki Sarri could make his debut arriving from former Ward Sheffield United side in January.

Brighton are also expected to be short of a few players, with manager Hope Powell confirming she will have to call up a selection of academy players for the game.

Sunday’s clash will be the third time the two sides have met this season, with Brighton coming out victorious on the first day of the season, before Birmingham won via a penalty shootout victory in the FA Cup quarter-finals – a result which launched their season.

Prediction: Birmingham 1-1 Brighton

Chelsea vs Manchester United

Lauren James, Maren Mjelde
Manchester United v Chelsea is a traditionally close affair | Charlotte Tattersall / Getty Images

What time is the kick-off? 2:30 p.m. (GMT)
Where is it played? Kingsmeadow
TV channel / livestream? BT Sport 1
Lily 90 minutes Overview here

The last two remaining unbeaten WSL records will be at stake on Sunday as the top two clash. Chelsea’s current undefeated league run spans 30 full games, and nothing separated the pair when they met on campaign opening day.

Manchester United will be without Alessia Russo, but welcome Chelsea academy graduate Lauren James, who came off the bench with great success in the two teams’ last meeting.

United haven’t played since before Christmas, while a Fran Kirby masterclass saw Chelsea overtake Reading last time around – although Emma Hayes has chosen to limit a number of regular starters to replace the cameos.

Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United

West Ham v Tottenham

Angela Addison, Grace Fisk
Tottenham and West Ham shared the loot in their last meeting | Julian Finney / Getty Images

What time is the kick-off? 3:00 p.m. (GMT)
Where is it played? Victoria Road
TV channel / livestream? FA player

Olli Harder will take charge of his first game against West Ham on Sunday after being named Matt Beard’s successor in December.

The New Zealander takes charge of a Hammers squad that will be without Rachel Daly after returning to Houston Dash, but who have been bolstered by Emily van Egmond, making her loan transfer permanent.

West Ham can overtake opponents Tottenham with the win, but face a Spurs side that have won two out of two under new boss Rehanne Skinner. Alanna Kennedy and Shelina Zadorsky both made their north London loan permanent in January – a big boost for Spurs.

Prediction: West Ham 2-2 Tottenham

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