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Barclays WSL: 2023/24 Season Review

Saturday, 25 May 2024

Full season review of every team in the Women's Super League

Ryan Asman


The 2023/24 Women’s Super League season is over, and Chelsea claimed their 5th successive title in one of the closest finishes in years. The Blues lifted the trophy after finishing level on points with Manchester City but with a better goal difference.  Winning it again seems a fitting way for Emma Hayes, the most successful manager in WSL history, to sign off her time at the club.

Plenty else happened throughout the league so here is our look back at the 2023/24 WSL season.


1st Chelsea

In November after their 6-0 win at Aston Villa, it was announced that Emma Hayes would be leaving the club in the summer after 12 years to take up the US women’s national team head coach position. 

After they had lost to Liverpool in May, it looked like their title chances might have gone but they won their last 3 games, scoring 15 and conceding 0 in those, and with a bit of thanks to Arsenal’s Stina Blackstenius, they won their fifth championship in a row. 

The chances of winning the quadruple went when they lost to Arsenal in the Conti Cup final and they were also defeated in the FA Cup and UEFA Women’s Champions League semi-finals. 

The Blues scored 71 goals, a record amount in a WSL season, despite missing Sam Kerr, Mia Fishel, Catarina Macario and other attackers for spells, whilst defender and captain Millie Bright was also out injured for 5 months. 

Lauren James, who was voted PFA WSL Fans Player of the Year, and Aggie Beever-Jones stepped up to the mark though scoring 24 goals between them in the league whilst January signing Mayra Ramirez put in some impressive performances.

It isn’t only Hayes leaving this summer but club legend Fran Kirby (who scored in her final appearance against Manchester United) and Maren Mjelde are also departing so things might look a bit different as they try to make it 6 in a row.


2nd Manchester City

Manchester City took the title fight to the final game and only missed out on winning it on goal difference.  This marks a big improvement after Gareth Taylor’s side finished last year in fourth place.

Netherlands international Jill Roord was their only major summer signing so they had consistency in their squad going into this campaign.  Roord though sustained an ACL injury in January, whilst leading goalscorer, and WSL and FWA Player of the Season, Khadija Shaw missed their last three games with a foot injury.

The Cityzens might rue their home defeat to Brighton in November when looking back to how close they came to winning the league, as well as the late defeat to Arsenal in their penultimate game which gave Chelsea belief they could still win the title.

In the cups, they reached the FA Cup quarter-finals and Conti Cup semi-finals.

City players finished top of a lot of the WSL stats this season with Shaw finishing as top scorer with 21 goals, 19-year-old goalkeeper Khiara Keating won the Golden Glove, and Lauren Hemp got the most assists as well as scoring 11 times.

In March, Manchester City and England legend Steph Houghton announced she would retire from playing football at the end of the season and made her final appearance as a substitute in their final game against Aston Villa.

3rd Arsenal

It has been a bit of a mixed season for the The Gunner’s with highlights including defending their Conti Cup crown thanks to Stina Blackstenius’ extra time goal as they beat Chelsea 1-0, whilst in the WSL they beat the Blues 4-1 and did the double over Manchester City.

Lowlights include an early exit from the UEFA Women’s Champions League in the first qualifying round, being knocked out of the FA Cup in the fifth round, and defeats in the league to Liverpool at home and away at Tottenham and West Ham.

Off the pitch, the Arsenal continued to lead the way with attendances with a WSL record of 60,160 for their match at the Emirates against Manchester United, and an average home attendance of 29,999.  With the majority of matches at the Emirates next season, this average might be even bigger then.

Beth Mead, Vivianne Miedema, Leah Williamson and Laura Wienroither all returned during the year after recovering from ACL injuries. 

Summer signing from Manchester United Alessia Russo finished up as the Gunners top scorer with 12 goals, whilst Lotte Wubben-Moy had some outstanding performances in defence and won the club’s Player of the Season award.

In May, it was announced that WSL record top scorer and club legend Miedema would be leaving when her contract expires, and she scored her final goal for them with her first touch after coming on as a substitute in her last appearance.


4th Liverpool

What a brilliant season Matt Beard’s Liverpool had as they finished in fourth place, their highest finish since they won the WSL in 2014 (though also finished fourth in the Spring Series)!  This year’s achievements saw Beard named as WSL Manager of the Season.

After failing to win away last time around, the Reds started this one by beating Arsenal 1-0 at the Emirates Stadium on the opening weekend, and good results continued to come including doing the double over Manchester United and beating eventual champions Chelsea 4-3 at Prenton Park late in May.  In the end, they won half of their away games but there is still work to be done if they want to break into the top three.

Marie Hobinger joined the Reds in the summer from FC Zurich, and the Austrian international midfielder has proved to be one of their players of the season by scoring 5 goals and assisting another 6 in the WSL.  Others that have stared include Fuka Nagano, Gemma Bonner and Sophie Roman Haug.

Liverpool reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup but didn’t get beyond the group stage of the Conti Cup.

It has already been announced that Liverpool will be moving to play home games at St Helens Stadium next season and they will be looking to carry on the progress made there.


5th Manchester United

The high point for Manchester United was winning their first major trophy, the FA Cup, with a 4-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur but in reality this masks what has been a poor season for the Red Devils.


After finishing runners-up last year, more was expected of them but they had inconsistent form, failed to beat any of the top 4, and there is general unhappiness with manager Marc Skinner from supporters as they finished in their lowest position since they have been in the WSL.

They lost to Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Women’s Champions League qualifying stage and didn’t make it through the group stage of the Conti Cup.

Nikita Parris finished as top goalscorer, whilst Ella Toone got a combination of 10 goals and assists as well as scoring their goal of the season in the FA Cup final.

Skinner has signed a new contract to stay with the club for next year but there is still uncertainty about some of their star players with contracts up, such as Mary Earps and Lucia Garcia, and apparent interest from other clubs for others.

United will be looking for an improvement in the league next time around as their fans might not tolerate another unsatisfactory season on the pitch.


6th Tottenham Hotspur

Robert Vilahamn joined Spurs as head coach from Swedish side BK Hacken in July last year, and he has led them to an amazing season. 

The highlight was reaching their first FA Cup final but they lost in that 4-0 to Manchester United at Wembley Stadium. 

There was a big improvement in the WSL from flirting relegation last season to a comfortable mid-table finish this.  They beat Arsenal for the first time, getting a 1-0 win in the North London derby at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in December.  But there were still heavy defeats to both Manchester sides so still some progress to be made.

Manchester United loanee Grace Clinton was one of their best players this season, putting in some superb performances and finishing up with 4 goals and 4 assists in the league.  The Lillywhites have already expressed an interest in signing her permanently in the summer transfer window.

Martha Thomas finished as their top scorer in the WSL with 7 goals whilst Bethany England who missed the first part of the season with a hip injury scored in 4 of their last 5 league games.

As well as reaching the FA Cup final, they also made it to the quarter-finals of the Conti Cup. 

Tottenham will be looking to carry on their upward momentum next year.

7th Aston Villa

A lot was expected of Aston Villa, at least from quite a few on the outside, after they finished 5th in the league last year but, after the expectations, it finished up being a bit of a damp squib this time for Carla Ward’s side. 

The Villans lost their first five games, slipping to the bottom of the table after their 6-0 defeat to Chelsea in November.  They had a bit of a problem of holding onto leads having gone ahead against Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Manchester City in the first half of the season but finishing up losing all of them.  Things picked up but their form was still inconsistent and they only won one home game.

Rachel Daly was named as their Supporters Player of the Season for the second year in a row after she scored 8 goals in the WSL.

Villa did suffer some injuries to key players with the likes of goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar, Lucy Parker and Lucy Staniforth missing for spells.

In the cups, they lost in the FA Cup in the fourth round to Everton, whilst in the Conti Cup they made it to the semi-finals despite playing an illegible player, Noelle Maritz, in their final group game.

In May, manager Ward announced she would be leaving the club in the summer after three years there.

8th Everton

Brian Sorensen led his side through a steady season, during which they had plenty of players out injured and not having money to spend in the transfer window, eventually finishing comfortably in 8th place.

They only picked up one home win all season which was a 2-0 victory over West Ham in February.  They did though draw against Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool at Walton Hall Park in the latter part of it.

Away from home, they beat Liverpool at Anfield, and also won against most of the other sides around them in the bottom half of the table. 

With their hefty injury list, Sorensen literally brought a list with him to one press conference in April to remind him who was missing for that match, and in some matches they were missing up to 8 or so players.

Megan Finnigan, Aurora Galli and Katja Snoeijs finished up as their joint top scorers with 3 goals each. 

One star of the future might be 16-year-old Isabella Hobson who scored the late equaliser against Arsenal in May and became the youngest ever goalscorer in WSL history.

They lost to Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter finals but finished bottom of their Conti Cup group after losing all four games.

Manager Sorensen sign a new contract in April for another two years with the Toffees and he will surely be hoping for less injuries next season.

9th Brighton & Hove Albion

After being appointed as manager in April last year, Melissa Phillips made some impressive signings for the Seagulls in the summer including Pauline Bremer from Wolfsburg, Vicky Losada and Portuguese international Tatiana Pinto.

They won their first game against Everton, then drew against Manchester United at home and beat Manchester City away in successive weekends in November.  Things seemed to going along okay for Albion but not well enough as Phillips was perhaps surprisingly sacked by the club on the 1st February. 

Mikey Harris took interim charge and he guided them to safety with two wins against Bristol City and Leicester City and a few draws including away at Spurs as well as being nominated for the March manager of the month award. 

Over the course of the season at home, they only won once against Bristol City.

They had decent runs in the Conti and FA Cup’s, reaching the quarter-finals in both but then losing to Aston Villa and Manchester United.

Their star player was Elisabeth Terland, with the Norwegian international scoring 13 league goals out of a total of 26 that Brighton scored.  Her brilliant year led to her winning the clubs Player of the Season and being nominated for the equivalent WSL and PFA awards.

10th Leicester City

Willie Kirk was suspended then sacked as Leicester manager in March following allegations of a relationship with a player with the club saying after an internal disciplinary process that he had “breached the team’s code of conduct”. 

Jennifer Foster took over as interim head coach until the end of the season but confirmed she will not be in charge after May.

The highlight on the pitch was their FA Cup run where they reached the semi-finals for the first time in their history before losing to a goal late in extra-time from Spurs.  They failed to get through the Conti Cup group stage though.

They made a good start in the league, picking up 7 points in their first 3 games but then didn’t win again until the end of January.  The only sides they beat were Bristol City and Everton home and away.  They only got 2 points from their last 8 games but still finished with their highest points tally in the WSL and equalled their best finish.

Finnish international Jutta Rantala joined in the summer from Vittsjo GIK and finished as the Foxes top scorer in the league with 6 goals but also assisted 5 others whilst also finding the net 3 times in their FA Cup run.  Her performances saw her nominated for WSL Player of the Season as well as winning the clubs award.

Captain Alieen Whelan announced that she will be retiring at the end of the season and made her final appearance against Liverpool in the last game in May.

11th West Ham United

Former Tottenham boss Rehanne Skinner was named their new manager in July becoming the Hammers first female manager since they have been in the WSL.

In the first half of the season, they only picked up only 5 points out of 30 and were in a relegation battle having only beaten Brighton away in their first 10 games.

Skinner brought in Kristie Mewis, Shelina Zadorsky, Katrina Gorry and Marika Bergman in January and things improved on the pitch with a narrow lose in a high scoring game against Spurs (in possibly the wildest weather a WSL match has been played in), then the week after they beat fellow strugglers Bristol City 2-1 away. 

A week later they got their result of the season when they beat Arsenal 2-1 in Dagenham and then got a draw at home against Manchester United a month later.  They did fail to win in any of their last nine games though and their only home win all year was against the Gunners.

They had early exits in both cup competitions with going out in the group stage of the Conti Cup and the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Viviane Asseyi and Riko Ueki both finished up as the Hammers joint top scorers in the league with 6 goals each.

12th Bristol City

2022/23 Championship winners Bristol City returned to the WSL after two seasons away. 

Manager Lauren Smith signed a new contract in August and brought in the likes of Amy Rodgers, Carrie Jones, Jamie-Lee Napier as well as Brooke Aspin back on loan after she had signed for Chelsea from the Robins.

It was a struggle all year for Bristol City though with them only picking up one win away to West Ham and failing to get a single point at their new permanent home of Ashton Gate. 

Even January signings Lisa Evans and Sarah Stratigakis couldn’t help turn the tied and they lost a 6-pointer at the bottom to West Ham at the end of the month. They only got 1 point in the second half of the season and have failed to score a goal since the 3rd March.  They were relegated back to the Championship after losing to Manchester City with a couple of games remaining. 

The cups didn’t bring much joy either, going out in the FA Cup fourth round and Conti Cup group stage.

Amalie Thestrup won their Player of the Year and was top scorer after finding the net 9 times during the season and scoring half of the Robins goals in the WSL.

A positive for Bristol City is the attendances at Ashton Gate with an average of 7,260, the highest outside the top four in the league. 

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