Women's Super League: A Beginners Guide
Updated: Oct 20, 2022
The Women's Super League, founded in 2010, is the highest tier of women's professional football in England. After England were victorious at the 2022 edition of the European Championships held in England, the desire to watch women's football has grown all over the world. In order to make the Women's Super League more accessible for those who are only just discovering it, we've compiled a guide to all of the 12 competing teams ahead of the 2022-23 season.
Position finished last season: 2nd
Currently sitting at the top of the table after the first game, the Gunners aim to do one better than last season and get their hands on some silverware. One of the best fixtures for Arsenal comes today against their North London rivals, Tottenham. The game will be played at the Emirates Stadium and this game is set to break the WSL attendance record with over 51,000 tickets sold. The previous record attendance for the WSL was also the North London Derby at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in November 2019, where 38,262 fans attended. It should be an exciting season for the Gunners, and a competitive one at that. But their pursuit for glory has been reinforced through recent signings of players such as Rafaelle Souza, Stina Blackstenius and more recently, Lina Hurtig.
Player to watch: Stina Blackstenius
It is difficult to pick just one Arsenal player as the player to watch within a squad of such talent and depth. However, Stina Blackstenius embarks on her first full season with the Gunners after joining in January 2022. Scoring her first goal of the season against Brighton, the Swede looks to embrace her first full season and help her team as much as she can. Her signing has allowed prolific goal scorer Vivianne Miedema to drop deeper into a number 10 position whilst Blackstenius assumes the number 9 position. Their linkup play so far has proven to be a wonderful combination in such a short time.
Position finished last season: 9th
Aston Villa have begun the season wonderfully, beating Manchester City on September 18 for the first time in league history, after having failed to score against them in previous games, which were very one sided games in Man City’s favour. This has certainly put them on the front foot, as they currently sit in third. It will be interesting to see if they can keep up their winning ways in the next coming weeks. Led by Carla Ward in their third consecutive season of top flight football since their promotion in the 2019-20 season. The English coach was brought in May 2021, so this is only her second season at the helm.
Player to watch: Rachel Daly
A familiar name for NWSL fans, the former Houston Dash captain made her Aston Villa debut in fashion, scoring a brace with one being the match winning goal. An incredibly versatile player such as Daly should definitely excite Villa fans because it seems as if she is on track to make a huge impact on the team. With 59 caps for England, the Euro 2022 champion can strengthen the squad not only on the pitch but off the pitch, having been a leader and captain in Houston.
Brighton & Hove Albion
Position finished last season: 7th
Going down to 10 players in the first seven minutes of the season opener is never a good start, especially considering Brighton’s opponent - last year's runners up, Arsenal. Currently sitting at 11th, everything is to play for in their next fixture as they take on 12th place Reading. he three points are certainly there for the taking if Brighton can get across the line; their squad is not bereft of talent, so it will be interesting to see where they finish this year. Brighton’s best result in the WSL is sixth, which they achieved in the 2020-21 season.
Player to watch: Elisabeth Terland
After her WSL debut against Arsenal, Hope Powell praised the 21-year-old Norwegian international for her tenacity and how much she wanted to improve and play well for the team. It will be interesting to see if she can make strides forward and impact the game, and surely it won’t be long if she continues having such a strong work-ethic. A promising talent all round, who already has 18 appearances and six goals for her country at the senior level.
Position finished last season: 1st
Since 2012, Chelsea have been led by Emma Hayes, who is hailed as one of the best managers in women’s football. Despite winning the league in a very narrow title race that went down to the last day, the champions haven’t started their 2022-23 campaign and their pursuit for their fourth consecutive league title in the best way. It’s not a disaster, however, losing 2-1 to newly promoted Liverpool in the first game of the season they lost the first game of the 2021-22 season 3-2 to Arsenal and still managed to pip their London rivals by a single point, securing the trophy once more.
Player to watch: Guro Reiten
Many players in the Chelsea squad could arguably be the player to watch, but Guro Reiten simply makes football look easy, effortless almost. A versatile player that can play both on the wing and in midfield, the Norwegian international is not afraid to take on defenders, put crosses into the box, and shoot from distance. It is without a doubt that she is one of the best left-footed players in the league, this goal shows just that.
Position finished last season: 10th
Under new manager Brian Sørensen, it is evident that the Toffees are taking steps to improve from their disappointing 10th place finish in the 2021-22 season. Everton have brought in an influx of new players, both permanent transfers and loans - most notably veteran defender Katrine Veje and new Arsenal player Gio Queiroz on loan. Their 2022-23 campaign began away from home at West Ham United, where they narrowly lost 1-0 due to a 45th minute goal from Lisa Evans. However, this upcoming matchday sees them taking on Liverpool for the Merseyside derby which will be held at Anfield on September 25, the first time since 2019 that the sides have faced off against each other.
Player to watch: Hanna Bennison
The 19-year-old has been hailed as one of the most promising young footballers in women’s football right now. Making her international debut in 2019 at just 17, the Swede will continue to make her mark in the WSL. A good impact player, she dazzled at the European Championships this summer and even came off the bench to score a spectacular goal against Switzerland in the group stage, which actually won goal of the round.
Position finished last season: 11th
Last season, Leicester City narrowly avoided relegation by only two points, but that was their first ever season of top flight football and clearly time is needed for the team to adjust to the level and tempo of the WSL; this season they aren’t the newly relegated team. Manager Lydia Bedford has brought in four midfielders and two defenders this past transfer window to strengthen the squad and hopefully give them a fighting chance to remain in the WSL.
Player to watch: Abbie McManus
The experienced defender could play an integral role in Leicester’s success this season and potentially staying up, avoiding relegation once more. Last season McManus made 19 appearances and scored one goal. Her defensive performances have been impressive and she is a huge part of Leicester’s backline. Bringing a lot of experience from her time at Manchester City and Manchester United, her role to play is huge as an anchor in that defence.
Position finished last season: 1st in the Championship (second-tier)
At the moment, Liverpool is riding high. Last season they won their way back into the WSL after a two-season stint in the Championship. Then they upset league champions Chelsea in their first game back on September 18. That match also broke the Liverpool Women’s attendance record at 3,006. Coached by Matt Beard, Liverpool’s solid performance against Chelsea confirms that they’re not just trying to survive in the WSL, they’re trying to thrive.
Player to watch: Katie Stengel
NWSL fans might recognize American Katie Stengel from her time with the Utah Royals and her Challenge Cup winning run with the Houston Dash in 2020. With Liverpool, she scored nine goals as a mid-season addition in 2022. Stengel already has two goals this season (against Chelsea no less). Expect her to continue her hot streak.
Position finished last season: 3rd
Manchester City is off to a disastrous start this season with a 4-3 loss to Aston Villa on September 18. Prior to that match, Villa had never beaten City in the history of the WSL. Several prolific City players, such as Ellen White, Keira Walsh, and Lucy Bronze either retired or transferred out before the season started. That being said, they still have a wealth of talent, including England’s Chloe Kelly and Jamaica’s Khadija “Bunny” Shaw. Manager Gareth Taylor may be facing an uphill battle if he wants to continue with the team.
Player to watch: Mary Fowler
Mary Fowler is a name many international soccer fans may know already. The young forward has dazzled with Australia since she was 15 years old. Signed in the preseason transfer window from Montpellier in France, look for Fowler to get significant minutes off the bench and provide a new look for her side.
Position finished last season: 4th
Manchester United fans have several reasons to be excited for the rest of the season. Firstly, English heroes Ella Toone and Alessia Russo are hungry to win for club as much as for country. Secondly, United had some solid transfers in the offseason, acquiring experienced players such as Adriana Leon and Nikita Parris. Lastly, United confidently trounced Reading 4-0 on opening weekend, which gave fans a taste of the squad’s potential. Hopefully they can keep their winning ways for the rest of the season.
Player to watch: Alessia Russo
The 23-year-old forward will be forever enshrined in English football history for her audacious backheel against Sweden at the 2022 Euros, but Alessia Russo’s just getting started. Her creativity and vision are key drivers of the attack, but her link-up play will prove to be her most valuable weapon this season. It’s one thing to be able to dribble around defenders to score, but Russo can just as easily play a massive role in a team goal.
Position finished last season: 8th
Reading is a team that just can’t seem to catch a break. Last season they capped off the season with a nine-game winless streak, now a ten-game winless streak with their 4-0 loss to Manchester United on September 17. Offensive powerhouse Deanne Rose went down just 20 minutes into that match and will be out for an “extended period.” Reading need to use their fighting spirit to gain some momentum and avoid being relegated.
Player to Watch: Brooke Hendrix
While it’s tempting to suggest Deanne Rose as the player to watch, she’ll be out for a sizable amount of time. Instead, pay attention to American center back Brooke Hendrix. Coming to Reading this season after successful campaigns with Racing Louisville and Melbourne Victory, Hendrix’s ability to score as a center back may prove invaluable as the season goes on.
Position finished last season: 5th
Tottenham have been on the up and up over the past few seasons. They’ve been hovering outside of the Champions League slots for two seasons, but their gritty style of play may push them inside this season. This style may get them in trouble in some matches, but their work ethic and “never-say-die” attitude make them a formidable foe.
Player to watch: Ashleigh Neville
Despite being a defender, Ashleigh Neville has scored some of Tottenham’s most memorable goals in recent seasons. Put simply: she scores bangers.
This one from the September 18 game against Leicester was a particular highlight. This is to say nothing of her stellar abilities as a defender, but it’s always brilliant to see a fullback get in on the fun up top.
West Ham United
Position finished last season: 6th
West Ham are constantly trying to improve. More importantly, it’s working. They went from ninth to sixth place over two seasons. Like Tottenham, West Ham have the capacity to grind results out. Their 1-0 victory against Everton on September 18 shows that brilliantly. The question is: can they keep every match at their own tempo?
Player to watch: Viviane Asseyi
Asseyi’s transfer to West Ham from Bayern Munich is nothing short of a coup for the Hammers. Her killer instinct in front of goal cannot be underestimated, which this side will need to make a challenge for a higher standing this season. Expect a constant, dynamic attacking presence that will turn some heads.