The WSL is back – Season preview


Due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II last week, all football in England was cancelled as a mark of respect for her majesty and her dedication to the nation. This weekend however, the highly anticipated WSL is finally back.

After the success of the Euros in England this summer and of course with The Lionesses bringing it home, this WSL season is set to be one to remember with record attendances expected and world class players on show.

Who will win the title this year, which three teams will qualify for Europe and who will unfortunately face relegation?

With the league kicking off tonight with Arsenal hosting Brighton at a sold-out Meadow Park at 7:30pm (BST), below is a team by team guide ahead of the new season including arrivals (from the transfer window) and key players to look out for from each side.

Transfer Market information from Tom Garry, Women’s Football Reporter, The Telegraph


Position finished last season: 2nd

Predicted finish this season: 2nd

Manager Jonas Eidevall and his team will undoubtedly know the title was theirs to be won last season. They only lost one game and they had a better head-to-head record compared to the rest of the top four. But that one loss away to Birmingham City (who were eventually relegated) left The Gunners still looking for their first league triumph since 2019.

It’s expected this season they will once again battle it out for glory with last seasons Champions and London rivals Chelsea yet again, but do they have enough grit and determination to beat them?

Eidevall has received a huge boost going into the new season though as star striker Vivianne Miedema has signed a new contract keeping her in North London. The Gunners have bought in a few new players this summer, but are mainly relying on their squad from last season.

They’ve bought in Kaylan Marckese (goalkeeper from HB Koge), Lina Hurtig (forward from Juventus), Gio Queiroz (forward from FC Barcelona, who has gone out on loan immediately).

Hurtig, Miedema and Mead up front could be a very dangerous trio to look out for.

Key player: Beth Mead

Fresh from winning the Euro’s with England and the Golden Boot at the tournament, the 27-year-old forward will be looking to continue her great form this season. Last season she registered 11 goals and 8 assists in 22 games and after breaking the overall WSL assists record, she will hopefully help her side go one step further this season by winning the title.

Aston Villa

Position finished last season: 9th

Predicted finished this season: 7th/8th

The thing that cost Villa most last season was their lack of goals, they only scored 13 goals in their 22 league games. To progress this season, this is something that must be rectified. New manager Carla Ward may have found the solution by signing versatile England star Rachel Daly from Houston Dash. It’s a surprising signing for Villa as during the Euros Daly played predominantly at left back, however, the 30-year-old was a striker in the USA and Ward sees her as a forward this season. But Ward’s side have had a pretty poor pre season, so they could find themselves in and amongst a relegation battle.

Other summer signings include: Anna Leat (goalkeeper from West Ham), Anna Patten (defender, on loan from Arsenal), Danielle Turner (defender from Everton), Kenza Dali (midfielder from Everton), Kirsty Hanson (forward, on loan from Manchester United), Natasha Harding (forward from Reading) and Simone Magill (striker from Everton).

Key player: Natasha Harding

All eyes will of course be on Rachel Daly after her successes at Houston Dash and for England in the summer. However, Tash Harding who has been in the WSL for the last 5 seasons, could be a big player for boss Carla Ward this season. The welsh international brings her experience, work ethic, goals and assist contributions to the side and she could be pivotal in helping her side potentially finish higher up than some people think this season.


Position finished last season: 7th

Predicted finish this season: 6th/7th

Brighton had a decent start to last season, but ended the season quite poorly by their standards. Looking at the side, it’s clear that they lack an out and out goal scorer, but they will of course be looking to start the new season brightly and in a positive way like they did last time out. The teams around them have strengthened in depth but with their new additions it’s likely they will have enough to hold a mid table finish.

In the summer window, Brighton have been busy, they have bought in: Rebekah Stott (defender from Bulleen Lions), Jorja Fox (defender, on loan from Chelsea), Poppy Pattinson (left-back from Everton), Park Ye-eun (midfielder from Gyeongju Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power FC), Veatriki Sarri (forward from Birmingham City) and Elisabeth Terland (striker from SK Brand).

Key player: Veatriki Sarri

Summer signing Veatriki Sarri could prove to be a very good addition to Hope Powell’s side this season. Despite being relegated with Birmingham City last season the 24-year-old Greek forward scored 3 goals and grabbed 2 assists in 21 games. She proved that she is too good for the championship and could hopefully this season she can improve even more under the management of Powell and become a player to keep a close eye on.


Position finished last season: 1st

Predicted finish this season: 1st

After winning their third successive WSL title last season, Emma Hayes’ side is quite clearly the team to beat. After keeping hold of their top talents this summer such as Sam Kerr, Fran Kirby and Pernille Harder, The Blues have still massively boosted their squad, in particular, the defence. Their most notable signing being one of the greatest centre backs in the world, Kadeisha Buchanan from Lyon. Strengthening the back line which was already the second best in the league last season, keeps them as hot favourites again but it won’t be easy especially with Hayes’ side being involved in the Champions League too.

The Blues have also bought in: Eve Perisset (right-back from Bordeaux), Katerina Svitkova (midfielder from West Ham), Johanna Rytting Kaneryd (midfielder from BK Hacken), Jelena Cankovic (midfielder from Rosengard) and Lucy Watson (striker from Sheffield Utd, loaned immediately to Charlton).

Key player: Sam Kerr

Despite strengthening the back line, all eyes will of course be on Chelsea’s star forward Sam Kerr. After winning the golden boot last season by scoring 20 goals and also by grabbing 4 assists. The Australian forward will surely keep up her outstanding form for the Blues and fans will be flocking to the grounds to see her live in the flesh this season. If she stays fit, she could be the one to spur Chelsea onto their fourth consecutive league title.


Position finished last season: 10th

Predicted finish this season: 6th

It would take a massive effort for The Toffees to finish higher up the table compared to their 10th place finish last season, but their business in the summer transfer window has been impressive to say the least. They have a new coach for the season in Brian Sorensen, who has had a very good pre-season with the squad and he seems to have steadied the team once again. Everton weren’t brilliant last season but with the summer signings and still having former England stars Izzy Christiansen and Toni Duggan in the squad, they have the potential to push on this season.

Their summer signings include: Emily Ramsey (goalkeeper on loan from Manchester Utd), Elise Stenevik (defender from Eskilstuna United), Katrine Veje (left back from Rosengard), Karen Holmgaard (midfielder from Potsdam), Sara Holmgaard (midfielder from Potsdam, but loaned immediately to Fortuna Hjorring), Jess Park (winger on loan from Manchester City), Clare Wheeler (midfielder from Fortuna Hjorring), Aggie Beever-Jones (forward on loan from Chelsea), Gio Queiroz (on loan from Arsenal) and Katja Snoeijs (striker from Bordeaux).

Key player: Jess Park

The young 20-year-old winger being allowed to leave Manchester City on loan was somewhat of a surprise to many. Despite not scoring a goal or grabbing any assists in 13 appearances in the WSL last season, the English winger still received a lot of praise and caught many teams attention. This move to Everton could give her the game time she needs and potentially help her work her way into the England team in the future. She has bags of pace and ability, she just needs to be given the chance to show it on a regular basis.

Leicester City

Position finished last season: 11th

Predicted finish this season: 12th

Leicester are a team that in the long term looks good, they have a plethora of young exciting players but could be in trouble this season. They just about secured safety over Birmingham last season, and in most of their games they struggled to compete.

It’s rumoured that the club is preparing for a busy January transfer window, but until then their squad is arguably the weakest out of the 12 WSL sides. This is maybe due to their form at the end of last season where they only picked up one point from their final eight games. Within this time they only scored twice and conceded 33 times which is a huge concern going forward.

They did make a few signings in the summer: Erin Simon (defender from Racing Louisville), CJ Bott (left-back from Valerenga), Josie Green (midfielder from Tottenham), Carrie Jones (midfielder on loan from Manchester United), Aileen Whelan (midfielder from Brighton) and Ellen Jones (midfielder from Colorado Buffalos).

Key player: Abbie McManus 

29-year-old central defender Abbie McManus could be vital in her sides success this season. The former Manchester City and United defender made 19 appearances last season and scored 1 goal. But some of her performances defensively were very impressive

Will the Foxes stay up this season?


Winners of championship last season

Predicted finish this season: 11th

After winning the championship last season and therefore achieving promotion back to the WSL, staying up will surely be Liverpool’s main priority. They’ve had a strong pre-season and looking at their squad, they definitely have the ability and strength to keep pushing on. With Matt Beard in charge they have a well respected and experienced WSL manager to help them stay up, maybe they could finish around mid table which would be even better. Liverpool did win back-to-back WSL titles in 2013 and 2014, but have fallen off the radar ever since.

They have made a few strong signings in the summer window: Eartha Cummings (goalkeeper from Charlton), Gilly Flaherty (defender from West Ham), Emma Koivisto (defender from Brighton), Charlotte Wardlaw (midfielder on loan from Chelsea) and Shanice van de Sanden (forward from Wolfsburg).

Key player: Shanice Van de Sanden

After playing for Liverpool in the 2016-17 season and winning the Champions League with Lyon numerous times, having Van de Sanden back in red will surely provide a massive boost to Matt Beards’ side. The forward is known for her pace and ability on the ball. Her career probably hasn’t gone according to plan in recent years, but returning to the WSL and having a good season with Liverpool could potentially propel the 29-year-old back into the Netherlands squad for the upcoming World Cup but more importantly help keep Liverpool in the WSL for another season.

Manchester City

Position finished last season: 3rd

Predicted finish this season: 3rd

Manchester City were undoubtedly the most in-form team in the whole of England at the end of the last season. But this summer’s transfer window has seen their starting 11 arguably take a dramatic downgrade. The exit of England internationals Lucy Bronze, Keira Walsh (for a world record fee of £400,000) and Georgia Stanway as well as Scotland’s Caroline Weir moving to Real Madrid and Ellen White, Jill Scott and Karen Bardsley all retiring, they seriously have lost some of their greatest players.

But there have been a lot of new arrivals at the club too, a lot of these new arrivals are young talents which maybe signifies a new kind of direction for the club under Gareth Taylor. There is a concern about how quickly these new players will gel with their teammates and how quickly they will get used to the competitiveness of the WSL. Nevertheless this City side remains a huge threat and could end up doing better than we are all expecting. But their main priority will surely be qualifying for Europe come May.

Their summer signings: Sandy MacIver (goalkeeper from Everton), Kerstin Casparij (right-back from FC Twente), Leila Ouahabi Laia Aleixandri (defender from Atletico Madrid), (left-back from Barcelona), Yui Hasegawa (midfielder from West Ham), Mary Fowler (midfielder from Montpellier) and Deyna Castellanos (forward from Atletico Madrid).

Key player: Chloe Kelly

After a horrible injury which reduced the English forward to only 5 appearances in the WSL last season, Chloe Kelly could be a major star for City this time around. The 24-year-old still scored 1 goal and grabbed 3 assists in her 5 appearances last season and of course scored the winning goal for England at the Euros this summer. The winger has received nothing but praise, support and publicity since the euros and could become a crucial player in Man City’s success this season. Manager Gareth Taylor will want to keep her fit and in form as she could be the difference between finishing in a European place or not.

Manchester United

Position finished last season: 4th

Predicted finish this season: 4th

After finishing fourth, three times consecutively Man Utd will surely be determined more than ever to finish in that top three this season. However, knocking out Chelsea, Arsenal or Manchester City will prove a great test, but arguably now more than ever Mark Skinner’s side have the best possible chance especially with the departures at Man City. In order to pile the pressure on City, they needed to have a good transfer window, they did bring in some decent players with good experience however it’s unknown how good they will fair this season.

But with the likes of England stars Mary Earps, Alessia Russo, Ella Toone and the whole squad keep improving season upon season, they have a real good chance of qualifying for Europe. The expectations from fans and the players themselves are very high.

Summer signings: Maya Le Tissier (defender from Brighton), Aissatou Tounkara (defender from Atletico Madrid), Grace Clinton (midfielder from Everton), Adriana Leon (forward from West Ham), Rachel Williams (striker from Tottenham), Lucia Garcia (forward from Athletic Club Bilbao) and Nikita Parris (forward from Arsenal).

Key player: Lucia Garcia 

After arriving from Athletico Bilbao this summer, the spanish forward will be a player to definitely look out for. She scored 63 times in 161 games over six seasons with the Spanish team, and being only 23 is constantly getting better. She did represent Spain at the Euros this summer, she got on the scoresheet in their opening game against Finland. The forward could definitely help Skinner’s side push for Europe especially if she plays alongside England star Alessia Russo. What a pair they could be up top!


Position finished last season: 8th

Predicted finish this season: 8th/9th

Reading are always regarded as the underdogs, but a lot like the clubs around them, staying up for them will surely be the priority this season. They don’t have the wealth compared to the top clubs and with other top clubs injecting more money into the women’s game it’s hard to say how much longer they will stay in the WSL. However, they have a good manager in Kelly Chambers who has held onto the key players within the squad.

Summer signings: Jacqueline Burns (goalkeeper from BK Hacken), Diane Caldwell (defender from Manchester United), Brooke Hendrix (defender from Melbourne Victory), Becky Jane (defender from Charlton), Lauren Wade (midfielder from Glentoran) and Charlie Wellings (striker from Celtic).

Key player: Charlie Wellings

Former Bristol City and Birmingham City striker Charlie Wellings is an excellent signing for Reading this summer, and is arguably quite a bargain. Wellings scored 40 goals in 34 appearances for Celtic last season in all competitions. The 24-year-old has improved massively since being at Birmingham as a youngster and has shown she can be a real threat in front of goal when given the opportunity.

Tottenham Hotspur

Position finished last season: 5th

Predicted finish this season: 5th

Arguably the best of the rest outside the top four last season, Rehanne Skinner’s team exceeded all expectations and could potentially do the same this season. They are the dark horses no doubt, they are well organised and at times are very tough to beat. They just seem to be lacking that out and out goal scorer. Not having a top class striker is arguably the one thing that keeps them out of challenging for a place in Europe.

Their summer signings include: Amy Turner (centre-back from Orlando Pride), Drew Spence (midfielder from Chelsea), Ramona Petzelberger (midfielder from Aston Villa), Ellie Brazil (forward from Brighton), Nikola Karczewska (forward from FC Fleury), Angharad James (midfielder from Orlando Pride) and Celin Bizet Ildhusoy (forward from PSG).

Key player: Drew Spence

Summer signing from Chelsea Drew Spence, could prove to be one of the signings of the summer for Spurs. The 29 year old had been at Chelsea for 7 years and played many times for the side. She may not have been a first choice player but nevertheless Emma Hayes regarded her as a “senior pro”. The midfielder could provide that aggression and power in Tottenham’s midfield this season and maybe help push them into that top four, who knows.

West Ham

Position finished last season: 6th

Predicted finish this season: 9th/10th

West Ham have made a lot of changes this summer, despite making good progress under former manager Olli Harder, he was gone in May and former West Ham men’s player Paul Konchesky, is now their new manager. He’s a new manager to the WSL, so it’s hard to say what his playing style, formation and the gelling of his players will be like. But he did have a busy transfer window. A big arrival for them is Viviane Asseyi, a striker from Bayern Munich who has Champions League experience. This is big for a club like West Ham going forward.

Their other summer signings include: Sophie Hillyerd (goalkeeper from Charlton), Risa Shimizu (right-back from Tokyo Verdy Beleza), Thea Kyvag (wing-back from LSK Kvinner), Kirsty Smith (defender from Manchester United), Jess Ziu (midfielder from Shelbourne), Halle Houssein (midfielder from Arsenal), Keira Flannery(midfielder from Arsenal), Izzy Atkinson (midfielder from Celtic), Honoka Hayashi (midfielder from AIK Football), Alex Hennessy (midfielder from Arsenal) and Lisa Evans (forward from Arsenal).

Key player: Viviane Asseyi

28-year-old french striker Vivianne Asseyi could be a star player for West Ham this season. With the side predicted to finish lower down the table compared to last season, she could be the difference. Asseyi scored 5 times and grabbed 2 assists in 20 appearances for Bayern Munich in the German league last season. She also made 6 appearances in the Champions League and bagged herself a goal too. This kind of experience is valuable to any club, so could Asseyi give The Hammers a real goal scoring threat this season?


So the WSL season is set to be very fascinating, who will come out on top, will it be Chelsea? Arsenal? or will another team rise to the challenge? and who will go down? All will be revealed in May 2023.

But whatever happens, it’s set to be a very entertaining season, and with record breaking attendances expected for all the teams after the success of the Women’s Euros here in England, women’s football will well and truly be on the rise again and the players especially the Lionesses will continue to inspire the next generation of professional female footballers.


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