Following England’s victory at Euro 2022, the Women’s Super League is returning and is expected to have its best season ever.
The opening round of games was postponed out of respect for the late Queen Elizabeth II, thus it will begin a week later than expected.
Arsenal, who finished second the previous year, face off against Brighton on Friday night to open the new season.
However, who are the favorites this time? Will the race to qualify for the Champions League be the most intense one yet? How can you keep up with the action this season? Here is all the information you want for the 2022–2023 WSL season.
Set to smash records this season
On the strength of England’s stunning victory at this summer’s Euros, WSL ticket sales have increased dramatically.
After selling more than 40,000 tickets for the next north London derby against Tottenham, which will be contested at Emirates Stadium, Arsenal is poised to surpass the WSL attendance mark of 38,262.
On Saturday, Manchester United will play Reading at Leigh Sports Village, which served as the site of the Women’s Euros. It is anticipated that this will be the largest WSL crowd to ever attend the facility.
For the noon kickoff, more than 6,500 tickets have already been sold, breaking the previous attendance record of 4,835 established in 2018.
And it’s not just the elite clubs that are seeing a rise in interest from fans. In comparison to previous season, Reading, which placed ninth out of 12 teams, has five times as many season ticket holders, while Brighton has also had record demand.
Every WSL club, it is believed, has consented to hold at least one match this season at a venue for men.
Tottenham, Chelsea, Brighton, and Reading would have all played their games at the venues of their male counterparts had last weekend’s postponed matchups not been made.
Instead, two of the six games on what is now the first weekend of the season will be played in the bigger venues, with Aston Villa and Leicester playing at Villa Park and King Power Stadium, respectively.
Leah Williamson, who led England to victory at the Euros, said to BBC Sport: “This would without a doubt be the finest league in the world if I were a fan looking for a league to watch. It is, in my opinion, the world’s most competitive league, making it the finest to watch.”
Who are the powerful players?
It will be challenging to dethrone defending champion Chelsea from their throne. Following their narrow victory over Arsenal on the final day of the season to win the 2021–22 trophy, Emma Hayes’ team is vying for a fourth straight WSL championship.
The clubs that prevented the Blues from winning six of the previous eight WSL championships during that time were Manchester City in 2016 and the Gunners in 2018–19.
To add to the domestic triple they achieved the previous year, they won the league and FA Cup in the previous season.
Given that they narrowly missed winning the league title last year and were the only team to overcome Chelsea in the league, London rivals Arsenal will definitely be among the favorites to contend once more this year.
Jonas Eidevall, a Swede, is in charge of the Gunners for the second consecutive season. He will be hoping his team can build on their excellent start from the previous year, when they beat Chelsea in their opening match and held the lead for a significant portion of the season.
A team with Arsenal’s history hasn’t won any trophies in a while; their most recent achievement was winning the league championship in 2019.
Manchester City had a busy summer, finishing second in six of the previous eight seasons. They have lost some key players, including Caroline Weir of Scotland and internationals Keira Walsh, Lucy Bronze, Georgia Stanway, and Ellen White of England.
It would be intriguing to watch how Gareth Taylor’s team opens the domestic campaign following the disappointment of missing out on Champions League status after losing a qualifier to Real Madrid.
Manchester United, a local rival, will be attempting to take advantage of this and close the gap on the established top three. They will be hoping that this season is the one when they finally clinch a Champions League berth after coming fourth in each of the previous three seasons since joining the WSL in 2019.
Who should you keep an eye on?
Since 18 of the 23 members of the Lionesses’ Euros-winning team are expected to participate in the WSL, fans will have plenty of opportunity to witness them in action once more. The Lionesses made headlines during this summer’s Euros.
16 of them are on the rosters of Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, or Manchester United.
Chloe Kelly and Lauren Hemp are among the group at Manchester City that will be reconstructing their team after the losses of people like White, Bronze, and Walsh. Kelly scored the game-winning goal against Germany in the final.
Along with another Euros goal scorer in Ella Toone, striker Alessia Russo, who lit up the Euros with her daring backheel in England’s semi-final victory over Sweden, will try to advance this season at Manchester United.
Having just been nominated for the women’s Ballon d’Or to add to her summer of accolades—she won player of the tournament and the Golden Boot at the Euros after scoring six goals for England—Beth Arsenal’s Mead will be looking to maintain her strong streak of success.
Leah Williamson, the England captain who plays beside her at Arsenal, will strive to lead her club to WSL success after doing the same for her nation.
Miedema, the WSL’s all-time leading scorer, won the league in 2019 and 2020 despite being extensively linked to Barcelona at the close of the previous campaign before signing a new deal with Arsenal in May.
However, Chelsea’s Kerr has overtaken her in the last two seasons. In their title-winning season, Kerr scored 20 goals, including two incredible volleys on the WSL’s last day in May.
Over the summer, clubs were also busy recruiting fresh talent for the league. Lina Hurtig, a striker from Sweden who joined Arsenal from Juventus, is one player to keep an eye on.
Kadeisha Buchanan from Lyon and Eve Perisset from Bordeaux, both Champions League champions, have boosted Chelsea’s defense, while Spain forward Lucia Garcia and Australia forward Mary Fowler will want to make significant contributions at Manchester United and Manchester City, respectively.
Other things to watch out for
Liverpool, one of the original WSL teams, are back after a two-year absence. It has taken The Reds two seasons to return to England’s top division after they were demoted to the Championship in 2020 after winning back-to-back WSL championships in 2013 and 2014.
The first game for Matt Beard’s club was scheduled to be played in Reading. They are one of just four teams to ever win the league. However, because of last weekend’s cancellations, they will play the defending champions Chelsea on Sunday, one of their hardest openings.
“We need to maintain our status in the WSL, but we also need to work toward returning to the top ranks of [teams], winning championships, and being back very competitive at.
Two clubs have new managers for this season, in the meanwhile.
Olli Harder has been replaced by former West Ham player Paul Konchesky, who has moved up from his position as assistant manager. The team, which has lost some important players, notably the incredibly seasoned defender Gilly Flaherty, may be in for a make-or-break year.
Brian Sorensen, a Danish coach who comes to Everton from top-flight team Fortuna Hjorring, is another new boss.
Last season, the Toffees had a difficult time under three different managers: Willie Kirk, who was fired in October, Jean-Luc Vasseur, who was fired in February after 10 games, and interim manager Chris Roberts.
How to adhere to the WSL
As part of the three-year rights agreement with the WSL, the BBC will air one match each week (a total of 22 games), while Sky will air two games each weekend, and the FA Player will stream the remaining games.
Along with weekend previews, reports, and the most recent news, the BBC will also provide live written commentary for every game on the BBC Sport website and mobile application.
Highlights are also available on the Women’s Football Show, the WSL equivalent of Match of the Day, which airs on BBC One on Sunday nights.