WSL 2020/21 Review: Grading each club's season from A+ to D-

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After another exciting season in the Women's Super League, GiveMeSport Women takes a closer look at how each team performed.

We have assigned a grade to each club based on their overall performance, final standings and individual results from the 2020/21 campaign. Here's the marks we have assigned from A+ to D-.

Arsenal – C

Arsenal endured a sticky 2020/21 season and often found themselves struggling to keep up with the pack at the top of the table. However, individual performances from the likes of Caitlin Foord, Vivianne Miedema and Katie McCabe – with the latter two making the GMSw Team of the Season – heavily contributed to their third place finish.

Jordan Nobbs and Katie McCabe

Fans were disappointed when the team dropped points to the likes of Manchester United, Reading and even Aston Villa on the final match day. Arsenal also failed to register a win over Chelsea or Manchester City, highlighting the fact they weren't up to this season's title challenge. But, they managed to secure Champions League football despite the odds being against them at times and therefore the North Londoners earn a C.

Aston Villa – C-

While Aston Villa's results reflect badly on them, the WSL newbies managed to defy the odds and keep their place in the top flight. 

A hard-fought seasons saw the Villains finish above both Bristol City and Birmingham, which is not to be sniffed at. They also took points from the likes of Arsenal (0-0), Reading (2-2) and Spurs (1-0). 

Mana Iwabuchi

Some fine individual performances from Mana Iwabuchi in attack, as well as the backline's six clean sheets cannot be overlooked. Villa earn a C- based on their 'never say die' attitude, but a season that they could have capitalised on a bit more.

Birmingham City – D+

Birmingham City survived the drop by the skin of their teeth, which is a disappointing situation for a club of such rich history to be in. 

The Blues finished the season just two points above the relegation zone after going 15 games without a win. Their last victory of the 2020/21 season came back in November against Aston Villa – it was one of only three wins they banked for the whole term.

Birmingham managed to score just 15 goals for the season and shipped a hefty 44, the third highest in the table. Without players like Claudia Walker, the West Midlands side would be playing in the Championship next campaign.

Birmingham City Women

However, we cannot mention City without discussing the problems they faced off the pitch. A letter from the players regarding in-house problems was made public earlier this year, which shed light on some serious issues the senior team was dealing with. To survive relegation despite some ongoing problems behind the scenes is admirable.

Brighton & Hove Albion – A

The 2020/21 season was a stunning season for the Seagulls. After finishing ninth for two consecutive terms, Brighton went on to stamp authority of the WSL table this time round.

They finished in a very respectable sixth position, ahead of Reading and Spurs and just five points off Everton. For a side often viewed as 'bottom half' calibre, this season was an awakening for every other club in the league.

Brighton Women

Brighton caused upsets to the likes of Man United, Everton and even Chelsea in their shock 2-1 victory back in February – showing that they can go toe-to-toe with the country's strongest sides and come out on top despite not splashing the cash during the transfer window. The Seagulls earn a well-deserved A for their impressive efforts. 

Bristol City – D

This one speaks for itself. Despite fighting until the very end, Bristol City were ultimately relegated.

There were some inspired performances throughout the season, including their 3-2 win over Reading and 2-1 win over Villa. But there were also some results to forget. 

Bristol conceded a whopping 72 goals last campaign, the most in the league by a landslide. Their heavy aggregate defeats to Chelsea (14-0), Man City (11-1) and Everton (8-0) was the writing on the wall for the Robins.

For their relegation and their disappointing season as a whole, Bristol earn a D for their 2020/21 run.

Gemma Evans

Chelsea – A+

This grade is another that doesn't need much explaining. Chelsea dominated the league this season, for the second year in a row.

Although they were chased down by Man City, the Blues were in unstoppable form – winning 18 of their 22 games, drawing three and losing just one. The attacking duo of Golden Boot winner Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby set the WSL alight with their link-up play. The latter was crowned the Barclays Player of the Season, with Emma Hayes winning the Manager of the Season award.

This was truly an A+ campaign from Hayes and all involved in Chelsea's success.

Fran Kirby

Everton – B+

Everton, often dubbed 'the best of the rest', were in strong form again last season. They finished just outside the top four with 32 points – winning nine games, drawing five and losing eight.

Stalwarts like Izzy Christiansen, Hayley Raso and Simone Magill made the Toffees a tough side to beat and they banked some convincing results including 6-0 over Aston Villa and 5-0 over Brighton. 

Our grade of B+ is well-deserved for a side constantly pushing to break into the top bracket of the WSL.

Everton Women

Manchester City – B

Man City's 2-2 draw against Chelsea was agonising for everyone in the Mancunian camp – one more goal and they could've been on for the WSL title. However, Chelsea dug in their claws and snubbed the Citizens of their chance to lift the trophy. However, this doesn't take away from the strong season they've had.

Finishing two points behind the winners and banking Champions League football is still a very successful campaign. However, with the personnel they brought in – Chloe Kelly, Sam Mewis, Abby Dahlkemper – more was perhaps expected of City. They get a B for their efforts, with marks knocked off for not fully utilising the American talent they brought in.

Man City Women

Manchester United – B+

Although Man United fell short of the European mark, they earn a B+ for their hard work and determination through the term.

Many forget that the Red Devils are still a very young club and have only been in the WSL for two seasons. Yet, they put the likes of Arsenal and City to the sword and have set themselves up for a seriously strong 2021/22, if they can adequately replace Casey Stoney.

Ella Toone

Finishing one point behind two-time champions Arsenal is very good going for United, who boast very impressive personnel and chemistry at the club.

Reading – C-

Reading, similar to Everton, are often viewed as the team most likely to push for the top four bracket. However, this time round they really looked a shell of themselves, despite the addition of Wales' most capped ever player, Jess Fishlock.

Reading Women

The Royals still managed to finish in a respectable seventh place, but they suffered shock defeats to the likes of West Ham (3-0 and 5-0) and Bristol City (3-2). A team like Reading should have made easy work of brushing aside the clubs in the bottom third of the table. Although, they did beat Man United and hold Man City to a draw, so it's not all bad news heading into the new season.

Spurs – D

For a team with top individual talent during the 2020/21 season, Spurs really fell short of the mark. Despite having the likes of Rianna Dean and Lucia Leon at their disposal – both of whom have now left the club in an 11-player exodus – the Lilywhites failed to make much of an impact on the league. 

Kit Graham

Spurs earn a D for their disappointing run of form, which included a ten-game streak without a win. They also managed to score just 18 goals – the second lowest amount for the season behind only Birmingham and Villa, who each scored 15.

West Ham – C-

West Ham's season got off to a torrid start – losing four of their five opening WSL matches, one of which being a 9-1 spanking at the hands of Arsenal. The Irons had to get through the term without key players Alisha Lehmann and Cho So-hyun, who both headed out on loan.

The club also had a shake up at the hilt when Matt Beard left his position to join Bristol City as interim manager. But despite everything that was thrown at them, they clung on in there and secured their place in the league for another year.

West Ham Women

We've given the last team on this list a C-, factoring in their relegation survival, rapid response to change, but also their overall poor run of results.

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