VIDEO: BT Sport Pundits Answer 90min Fan Questions on Refereeing, Arsenal, Lionesses & More

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BT Sport Women’s Super League pundits and former England internationals Sue Smith and Laura Bassett both agree the standard of refereeing must improve, and believes the Lionesses could achieve great things at the World Cup next year.

England manager Phil Neville was scathing of the performance of one official during his side’s 1-1 draw with Australia earlier in October, with the Lionesses denied two penalties and wrongly having a goal disallowed.

Responding to a question posed by one 90min fan, Smith said: “I thought the refereeing was poor in that game and I think everybody would have agreed. It has to get better.

“I think the standard’s getting better in the game, the players are getting better, so yes, of course the refereeing has to.”

Bassett added: “We spoke about the players, staff and the clubs getting professional, so can we have referees eventually that become professional?

“They could train full time so not only can they train physically, they can review their performances so they get the help they need. We can’t just click our fingers and expect the standard to get better.”

Speaking about the Women’s Super League title race after Arsenal’s 5-0 win against Chelsea, Smith added: “I would certainly say they (Arsenal) are definite title contenders. 

“Before the season started, I thought it was going to be Manchester City or Chelsea again, Arsenal would be there or thereabouts, but I didn’t think they would be this dominant.”

Bassett agreed, highlighting the players who weren’t available for 5-0 win as a sign of strength in depth for Joe Montemurro’s side.

Arsenal currently top the Women’s Super League with 12 points from four games, ahead of Birmingham on goal difference having scored 21 goals so far this season. Meanwhile, Manchester City are third, while Chelsea are fifth with one win from five.

When asked what teams they looked forward to playing the most, both Smith and Bassett agreed that derbies were always exciting to play in.

Smith said: “I always loved playing against Arsenal, because they dominated throughout my playing career and you always wanted to test yourself against the best teams.”

Regarding the World Cup in France next year, Bassett hailed the mix of youth and experience in the squad and tipped the Lionesses for success.

She said: “I’ve been really impressed with the Lionesses, with the young players coming through as well as the experienced players we’ve got a really good blend.

“We’re not reliant on one player to get us through a game, so I’m really excited and I think we can do really well.”

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