3. Lauren James haunts her former club once again, putting on a clinic in front of over 20,000
Strength. Swag. Composure. James has it all. United wishes she was donning red. The only problem---No. 10 is proper Chels. Two WSL games at the Bridge between November and January. Six goals. There's only so much an opponent can do. Liverpool tried. United did its best. Neither had an answer.
After playing up top as a No. 9 last weekend, the English winger started in the No. 10 role behind Mia Fishel. It allowed her to roam, causing the United defense headaches with her crisp passing and intelligent progressive on ball runs. For all those young girls in the stands yesterday, that was a clinic on how to finish. James doubled the amount of shots on target than anybody else on the pitch. It is almost like she relishes matches in front of these large crowds.
With United beginning to cause some issues, Hayes brought on a defensive-minded Sjoeke Nusken into the midfield, pushing James into the nine position. Nothing in her game changed. The players in red struggled mightily to take the ball off of her all day. Hayes could not stop singing James' praises post-match.
"There’s a lot of complexities with Lauren - but she’s a genius footballer. She wanted to demonstrate in front of the home fans she could step forward. She showed she could do it as a No.10 and No. 9 in the second half. Her hold-up play is unbelievable."
2. Hannah Hampton does her job well after receiving shocking start
Not many people saw this coming. It doesn't get much bigger than United in the SW6. You would think we'd see Hayes lean on experience. That was not the case as she went with the 23-year-old wild card, Hampton, a much more confident player on the ball when distributing from the back. Against an outfit that does tend to counter-press quite a lot, the switch up in net made sense.
No. 24 earned another start after the performance on the road in Bristol. We just didn't think it would have come in such a high pressure environment. None of it phased Hampton, who has stood in goal on more than one occasion against this very club. Hampton accumulated three saves, all of which were crucial, especially that courageous stop in the 59' off the boot of Ladd. Her words post-game were music to the ears of CFCW fans everywhere.
"I'd do anything to put my body on the line for this club," Hampton said.
I mean, just look at that passion. This woman just adores CFCW, and it's as clear as day. If that does not get fans of the west London outfit thrilled for the future, I don't know what will. You never felt uneasy when Hampton received a back pass either, neatly finding finding a outlet or clearing the ball away from danger. This was a statement for Hayes in such a massive fixture. We'll probably see a lot of rotation in the next few months due to the number of matches, but don't be surprised if Hampton gets another big one.