On the final day of the WSL season Liverpool, Chelsea and Birmingham were all in with a chance of winning the league. Liverpool needed goals to retain their title, which looked destined for a new winner. A 3-0 defeat of Bristol City, Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat of Manchester City and Birmingham’s 2-2 draw with Notts County ensured Liverpool finished above Chelsea on goal difference, by two goals, and Birmingham finished one point behind them. At one stage the trophy was waiting at a service station.
Laura Bassett ran up to take her free-kick, stopped and shrugged; her teammate Alex Greenwood slipped the ball to Ellen White next to her. She spun and shot, catching Arsenal off-guard, and the tricky set piece went viral.
After exploding on to the scene and being labelled England’s “mini-Messi” at the World Cup in Canada, Fran Kirby signed for Chelsea for a British-record fee of about £50,000. Before Kirby’s move, little money had exchanged hands for players. It was a turning point for the fledgling women’s transfer market.
Arsenal stunned the reigning champions at Kingsmeadow. Emma Hayes’s team had not lost at home since July 2016 and were undefeated in 17 months overall. A Kim Little penalty set the ball rolling before Vivianne Miedema and Jordan Nobbs scored twice each – since when the Gunners have not beaten Chelsea in the league.
What took place on the pitch was somewhat inevitable, with the WSL minnows Tottenham conceding twice against the league heavyweights Arsenal. sin embargo, with the game played at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and in front of a record WSL crowd of 38,262 fans this game was the cherry on the top of a host of fixtures at Premier League grounds in the 2019-20 season and a taste of the potential audiences for the women’s domestic game.