With the Spring Series complete and the European Championship quickly disappearing from the rear-view mirror, The Women’s Super League comes into focus with kick off day in WSL 1 and WSL 2 on Sunday 24th September. The break between last season and this one has been somewhat unconventional. The Spring Series was created as an interim edition of the WSL to lessen the awkwardness of moving the league from a summer time league to a winter competition, running concurrently with the men’s’ league.
Chelsea Ladies warmed up for this season in the most perfect of ways by winning the Spring Series, sharing an identical record with their closest challengers Manchester City Women but bettering them on goal difference. The interim tournament could well turn out to be a useful indication as to the direction of the WSL title this season.
The holders of the last official league campaign were Manchester City Women who, much like their male counterparts, have invested heavily in the playing squad and that led to a stunning season in which they remained unbeaten conceding only 4 goals in 16 matches. Chelsea Ladies finished 5 points behind City and in an attempt to make up the gap this year, Chelsea have brought in Swedish international Magdalena Eriksson, who will be tasked with shoring up the defence. In addition to this, so far this year Chelsea have managed to attract Scottish wonderkid Erin Cuthbert to the club, as well as adding the versatile American Crystal Dunn to the squad.
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes has often been regarded as the vital difference between Chelsea and their competitors. It will take another massive effort from her and her team this year to achieve first place because of the increased competition for the top. The aforementioned Manchester City continue to muscle their way into the upper tier of Women’s football and have signalled their ability by winning the league last year and getting to the last four of the Champion’s League.
Furthermore, Arsenal Women’s FC will this season be looking to recapture glories of the past when they dominated the league and have made signings that will put them right in the middle of action come the end of the season. Add to this three way tussle the fact that Liverpool Ladies have been quietly building their squad and improving year on year, the WSL title race will be as tight as it has ever been.
There is talent and title winning experience running throughout the current Chelsea squad. Captain Katie Chapman and Vice-Captain Gilly Flaherty, were both bought from Arsenal in 2014 where they had been part of the squad that won an unprecedented quadruple. In goal, Chelsea can boast one of Sweden’s greatest exports in Hedvig Lindahl. Emma Hayes normally lines the team up in a 3-4-2-1 formation and Chelsea’s front three can be considered to be the envy of the league.
Fran Kirby, once described as ‘Mini Messi’ by the national team manager, has a knack for scoring important goals and was top scorer in the recently completed Spring Series. Eniola Aluko is one of the most skilful and recognisable names in Women’s football. With over 100 England caps to her name and her mesmeric dribbling skills, she has consistently produced domestically and on the international stage. Kirby and Aluko are supported in attack by Ji So-Yun. Ji has been a breath of fresh air to the league since she arrived from the Japanese League in 2015. Blessed with a fantastic first touch and plenty of flair, Ji is always a threat and is her country’s all-time top goal scorer. If the front three can remain injury free and manage to click, Chelsea Ladies can overcome their rivals and take back the WSL Title.