THE Women’s Super League returned with a bang with Aston Villa getting off to a flier start to the year with a 2-1 defeat of Tottenham.
Today’s fixtures will see ten sides in action including Arsenal and title rivals Chelsea in one of the biggest games of the weekend.
Here is a look at all the fixtures taking place today with the Gunners and the Blues kicking off proceedings this lunchtime.
Arsenal vs Chelsea
Kick-off time: 12 midday
TV channel: Sky Sports Main/Sky Sports Football
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As far as Jonas Eidevall, 39, and Emma Hayes, 46, are concerned, every match their teams play in the top tier are just as important as today’s one at the Emirates.
But for many WSL followers this fixture could potentially be among the most decisive in terms of this term’s title.
The league leading Blues are chasing a fourth consecutive top-flight crown
And Gunners after their first since finishing at the WSL’s summit in 2019 under former gaffer Joe Montemorro.
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Arsenal, who are currently three points behind their visitors, are chasing their first major silverware win under Eidevall following his appointment in June 2021.
And they have a game in hand on the Blues who have played 10 fixtures to date.
Should every one of the 45,000 fans who have bought tickets flock to today’s match, it will be the second-highest attended clash in the WSL.
Hayes said "I've done this (job) for 10 years and I don't even know how many times we have faced Arsenal.
"We're probably in the double digits over this length of time.
"I love that we’re playing in a big stadium. That for me is the special piece.
"That's something we are excited about (playing in front of big crowd).
"We're going to play with that noise and that volume and we're looking forward to it."
The Gunners have been busy in the January transfer window following ACL injuries to Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema.
In addition to signing Canada goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo they also reinforced their attacking depth.
Before today’s game Arsenal signed midfielder Victoria Pelova, 23, from Ajax along with 19-year-old Denmark attacking midfielder Katherine Kuhl from Danish outfit FC Nordsjaelland.
And their opponents have added forward and Japan Under-20s starlet Maika Hamano to their ranks.
The player, who joined from INAC Kobe Leonessa, is spending the rest of this season on loan at Swedish side Hammarby IF.
Today’s match will be the Gunners’ first game following Beth Mead sadly revealing her mother June had passed away following her battle with ovarian cancer
And her team-mates are set to wear black armbands in honour of the Arsenal ace’s mum at today’s match.
Eidevall said: "It's been difficult for the team, and I want to send my condolences to Beth Mead and her family for the loss of her mother.
"That's obviously something that has been taking a lot of energy for us as a team to have a teammate that goes through that.
"The players have asked to play with black armbands to honour that, and that we are going to do.
Hayes added: "What an extremely tough time Beth is going through.
"While her absence on the pitch will be greatly missed on the pitch by her team this is about the team and (the football) community being around her."
Everton vs Reading
Kick-off time: 1:00 pm
TV channel: The FA Player
Kelly Chambers’ Reading have won three of their last four games across all competitions
The ninth placed Royals came close to clinching a draw against Chelsea before falling to a 3-2 loss in their last fixture before the festive break.
Chambers, 37, said: "Before Christmas we had good momentum and were picking up results
"As much as we didn't pick up a result against Chelsea, our performance was outstanding.
"Minus a refereeing decision we could have potentially taken a point."
Everton, who host their rivals at Walton Hall Park this afternoon, have won four of their past five games against Reading.
Their league form so far this season has been mixed with the team registering four wins and five losses from their first nine games.
The Toffees dropped down to seventh after being leapfrogged by Aston Villa who clinched a win against Tottenham in the first WSL game of this year.
Should the Royals win today and Liverpool lose against Manchester United, Chambers' side could move up to eighth in the table above Spurs.
Manchester United vs Liverpool
Kick-off time: 2:05 pm
TV channel: BBC One/BBC iPlayer
Manchester United are set to take Liverpool in the WSL for the second time in the league’s history.
Marc Skinner’s Red Devils, who are third, are chasing a top three finish with the club targeting a place in the Champions League for the first time in their history.
And they are considered as potential dark horses for the title with the team currently six points behind leaders Chelsea with a game in hand.
Liverpool, who made their return to the top tier last summer after winning promotion from the Championship, hope to pick up their third match win this season.
They will take on United at the Red Devils’ Leigh Sports Village base which has become something of a fortress for Skinner’s side who have won 10 of their last 11 home fixtures.
Matt Beard’s side, who are ninth, have taken just one point from their away games against United and Manchester City since June 2016.
A Reds win would see them leapfrog Tottenham to move up to eighth.
Should Man United win and Arsenal and Chelsea draw today, Skinner’s side will move to within three points of the league leaders.
Leicester City vs Brighton
Kick off time: 3:00 pm
TV channel: The FA Player
Willie Kirk’s Leicester, who are bottom of the league, host a Brighton team playing their first game under their new boss Jens Scheuer.
The former Bayern Munich chief has become the first German-born head coach to take charge of a WSL team following his appointment last December.
Since hiring Scheuer Brighton have been busy in the transfer window.
The Seagulls have brought in experienced talent from the USA’s National Women’s Soccer League and Women’s Professional Soccer division as well as top divisions in Europe.
Albion’s newest additions include Norway centre-back Guro Bergsvand, 28, and Serbia midfielder Dejana Stefanovic who is 25.
And the club have added Brianna Visalli, 27, and Zoe Morse, 24, to their ranks with the midfielder and defender joining from Houston Dash and Chicago Red Stars
Today’s game could potentially be one of the most pivotal matches for both sides with Albion currently second from bottom.
The Foxes are yet to pick up a point this term having lost their first nine games this term.
They will hope to register a win that could see them cut the gap between themselves and their opponents to four points.
And the team come into this match off the back of a 5-0 trouncing of Championship side Sunderland in the Continental Cup on Wednesday.
Today’s match at the King Power Stadium could feature two of Leicester’s January signings.
The club have acquired Bayern Munich goalkeeper Janina Leitzig on loan for the rest of this term and Australia striker Remy Siemsen from Sydney FC.
However they will be without the services of experienced defender Abbie McManus
The Foxes player fractured her leg during the defeat of Sunderland.
West Ham vs Manchester City
Kick off time: 6:45 pm
TV channel: Sky Sports Football/Premier League
Paul Konchesky’s West Ham side are sitting fifth in the WSL after a mixed start of five wins and five losses in the league.
The Irons have been beaten in six of their last seven duels with Manchester City with Gareth Taylor’s side fourth and currently four points in front of their rivals.
However Konchesky says his side have no intention of parking the bus when they face a Citizens team which includes Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw.
The Jamaica striker, who is the second highest scorer in the league this term, has bagged eight goals in nine WSL games to date.
Of the City striker’s form, Konchesky, 41, said: "Shaw is probably one of their main threats.
"When you play against someone of her stature, it's always difficult to defend.
"With our game plan we will try and stop her.
" If we starve the service (to her) then she can't score."
City have won their last three away games against West Ham in the league scoring six times and conceding just once
The game will see Citizens forward Yui Hasegawa go up against her former club
with the Japan ace having scored once in seven games for City.
Irons chief Konchesky said: "We respect Manchester City but I think if you respect them too much that's when they can get on top of you. We won't be a team that sits back.
“I don't want my team to play like that, I want us to play on the front foot.
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“We know Man City are good, but we're good as well so we're playing the team who's fourth and we're fifth.
"We're up there for a reason so we're going to go for it. We want to start this year on the front foot."
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