Women’s Super League clubs will start the new season this weekend after a short postponement following Queen Elizabeth II’s death.
Whether it’s battling for a Champions League place or avoiding the drop zone, all four teams have a point to prove this season.
Manager: Marc Skinner
Last season’s finish: 4th
WSL titles: None
Star players: Ella Toone, Alessia Russo, Mary Earps
Toone, Russo and Earps were all crucial as the Lionesses stormed to victory at Euro 2022, winning England’s first major title since 1966.
With 16 goals between them, Toone and Russo were crucial to Manchester United’s attack last season. Skinner will be delighted to have kept the pair at the club for the upcoming campaign.
Earps was just as integral in goal. She managed to keep 10 clean sheets, the second highest in the league.
If the Red Devils finally clinch a Champions League spot, their Euro 2022 heroes will surely be a major driving factor behind such an achievement.
Transfers: In – Grace Clinton (Everton), Lucia Garcia (Athletic Club), Adriana Leon (West Ham United), Maya Le Tissier (Brighton & Hove Albion), Rachel Williams (Tottenham Hotspur), Nikita Parris (Arsenal), Aissatou Tounkara (Atletico Madrid)
Out – Fran Bentley (Bristol City), Tara Bourne (on loan to Birmingham City), Signe Bruun ( end of loan from Olympique Lyonnais), Diane Caldwell (Reading), Ivana Ferreira Fuso (on loan to Bayer Leverkusen), Martha Harris (Birmingham City), Carrie Jones (on loan to Leicester City), Kirsty Smith (West Ham), Emily Ramsey (on loan to Everton), Kirsty Hanson (on loan to Aston Villa)
Predicted finish: 3rd
We’re predicting that Manchester United will finally qualify for the Champions League. The team have finished fourth for the past three seasons, narrowly missing out on a place among Europe’s finest.
Their arch-rivals lost the majority of their starting lineup over the summer, while Skinner has recruited well with signings such as Garcia, Leon and Le Tissier.
Two words of warning. Firstly, at the time of writing, it seems as if Jackie Groenen will be leaving Manchester United for PSG. Finding a way to vacate the hole she leaves in midfield will be of utmost importance.
Secondly, Manchester United will not just have to fight Manchester City for the last Champions League spot. It’s likely Tottenham Hotspur will be right up there as well.
Manager: Kelly Chambers
Last season’s finish: 8th
WSL titles: None
Star players: Deanne Rose, Gemma Evans, Natasha Dowie
Rose was a breakout star in the WSL last season, scoring four goals in 21 appearances for Reading. At just 23-years-old, she is only going to get better.
Evans is another who made a name for herself last season, giving defensive stability to her side when up against some of the world’s best attackers. The Welsh international made 21 league appearances for Reading last season.
Transfers: In – Becky Jane (Charlton Athletic), Charlie Wellings (Celtic), Jacqueline Burns (Häcken), Lauren Wade (Glentoran), Diane Caldwell (Manchester United)
Out – Natasha Harding (Aston Villa), Chloe Peplow (on loan to Crystal Palace), Brooke Chaplen (retired)
Predicted finish: 10th
Sky Sports pundit Karen Carney told GiveMeSport Women that she was “worried” about Reading, and it’s difficult to disagree with her judgement.
Reading have not strengthened with the same quality as the teams around them, and the squad now looks to be one of the weakest in the WSL.
Chambers’s managerial prowess means her side won’t be relegated, but they will certainly be involved in a scrap to avoid the drop down into the Championship.
Manager: Rehanne Skinner
Last season’s finish: 5th
WSL titles: None
Star players: Molly Bartrip, Ashleigh Neville, Drew Spence
It’s fair to say Tottenham Hotspur were punching above their weight last season, transitioning from a team flirting with the relegation zone to a side battling for a Champions League place.
Bartrip and Neville were two of the best defenders in the WSL as Spurs rose up the table, and similar performances this season could see the pair finally earn a call-up to the England squad.
Spence is a new addition to the squad, but one that brings WSL know-how. The midfielder spent 10 years with Chelsea, winning the league five times. Her experience will be crucial as Tottenham aim to pip Manchester United and Manchester City for third place.
Transfers: In – Drew Spence (Chelsea), Ellie Brazil (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ramona Petzelberger (Aston Villa), Amy Turner (Orlando Pride), Nikola Karczewska (Fleury 91), Angharad James (Orlando Pride), Celin Bizet Ildhusøy (Paris Saint-Germain), Gracie Pearse (end of loan with Crystal Palace)
Out – Viktoria Schnaderbeck (retired), Angela Addison (Charlton Athletic), Josie Green (Leicester City), Rachel Williams (Manchester United), Silvana Flores (Monterre), Maéva Clemaron (Servette), Tang Jiali (returning to Shanghai Shengli from loan)
Predicted finish: 5th
Tottenham Hotspur have certainly strengthened, and their squad is now of the standard needed to challenge for a Champions League place.
But Manchester United and Manchester City arguably have stronger squads, and more experience in finishing in the top half of the WSL table.
One thing’s for certain, under Skinner’s management, Spurs will certainly be causing a lot of teams trouble.
West Ham United
Manager: Paul Konchesky
Last season’s finish: 6th
WSL titles: None
Star players: Dagný Brynjarsdóttir, Viviane Asseyi, Lisa Evans
Brynjarsdóttir has been named West Ham’s captain for the 2022/2023 season, and it’s easy to see why.
The Icelandic midfielder was crucial for the Hammers as they finished sixth last season, the highest the side have ever placed in WSL history.
The squad has been bolstered by the addition of Asseyi, a French international who will add significant firepower to West Ham’s attack.
She will be supported by Evans, who has earned a permanent move after playing for the Hammers on loan from Arsenal last season.
Transfers: In – Izzy Atkinson, Risa Shimizu (Tokyo Verdy Beleza), Jessica Ziu (Shelbourne), Kirsty Smith (Manchester United), Thea Kyvåg (LSK Kvinner), Sophie Hillyerd (Charlton Athletic), Viviane Asseyi (Bayern Munich), Halle Houssein (Arsenal), Lisa Evans (Arsenal), Alex Hennessy (Arsenal), Keira Flannery (Arsenal), Honoka Hayashi (AIK Fotboll)
Out – Anna Leat (Aston Villa), Tameka Yallop (Brann), Kateřina Svitková (Chelsea), Gilly Flaherty (Liverpool), Lois Joel (London City Lionesses), Adriana Leon (Manchester United), Zaneta Wyne, (Racing Louisville), Emily Moore (unattached), Yui Hasegawa (Manchester City)
Predicted finish: 9th
West Ham have lost a number of key players, including Hasegawa, Leon, Flaherty and Svitková.
They have been active in the transfer window, with Asseyi a real marquee signing, but it is unlikely to be enough to reach the same heights as last season.
It will be interesting to see how the Hammers fare under Konchesky, who is set to make his managerial debut this weekend.
Even if he hits the ground running, it is a transitional time for West Ham, and we are predicting the side to slip down the table. They will avoid a relegation battle, but only just.