Barclays WSL Season Round-Up
Sunday, 28 May 2023
A brief round-up on all twelve teams in the Women's Super League and their performances over the 2022/23 season
Chelsea continue to lead the way as Emma Hayes' side won the title for the fourth season in a row and completed the league and FA Cup double for the third. On their way to becoming champions, the Blues won every home league match during the season. They also had an impressive run in the UWCL only losing in the semi-finals to Barcelona, as well as reaching the final of the Conti Cup. Sam Kerr maybe hasn’t been as clinical in front of goal as previous seasons but she has scored some vital goals including a late equaliser at the Emirates against Arsenal, the only goal in the home win against Manchester United and two in the final day win at Reading. Another star for Chelsea this season has been Guro Reiten who finished with top assists in the WSL.
This has been Manchester United’s best season since they were re-formed in 2018 as they finished second in the WSL, reached their first cup final and qualified for the UWCL for the first time. Marc Skinner saw his side score late winners against Arsenal, Aston Villa and Manchester City. However, a result that may have cost his side the title was a 0-0 draw at home to Everton. Skinner kept a settled starting eleven throughout the season but making the most of players like Lucia Garcia and Rachel Williams as impact substitutes. Leah Galton and Ona Batlle have been their standout players during the season, whilst Mary Earps kept a league record 14 clean sheets and won the WSL Golden Glove.
With having four players suffering ACL injuries since November, and others missing parts of 2022/23 campaign with injuries, finishing third in the league, winning the Conti Cup and reaching the UWCL semi-finals has got to be seen as a good season for Jonas Eidevall’s side. At the Emirates, they suffered a stoppage time defeat to Manchester United whilst Chelsea snatched a late draw there. These along with a 0-0 draw at West Ham may be matches seen as ones costly points were dropped in. Frida Leonhardsen Maanum has impressed playing in a more advance role, scoring some spectacular goals along the way. The Gunners have led the way on attendances with a record crowd being set for the WSL of 47,367 when they played Spurs at home.
Finishing fourth was City’s lowest league position for nine years. After a large turnover of players last summer, they had a slow start to the season, going out of the UWCL and losing to Aston Villa and Chelsea in their first two WSL matches. Things improved as the squad settled and they were in with a chance of grabbing a UWCL place until the final day. Positive results include beating both Arsenal and Chelsea at home but loses away to Liverpool and Manchester United late in the season may have cost them the European place. Stars of the season for City include Bunny Shaw who scored 20 league goals and finished second highest scorer in the WSL, and Yui Hasegawa who played in a deeper midfield role than she previously has.
Carla Ward’s side have had an outstanding season as they finished in their highest ever position in the WSL. The summer signings of Rachel Daly, Kenza Dali, Danielle Turner and Manchester United loanee Kirsty Hanson along with Jordan Nobbs and Lucy Saniforth in January have proved inspired. Daly was named as WSL Player of the Season after winning the Golden Boot with 22 goals which equalled Vivianne Miedema league record. She also became the first English player to score 20 goals in a season, and in the away match against Reading in May became the third player in the leagues history to be directly involved in five or more goals in a single game.
Everton have had a good season under Brian Sorensen. After finishing tenth last season and having three managers during it, Sorensen has led the Toffees to sixth position in his first season in charge. Gabby George’s performances in defence, a couple of good loan signings in Jess Park and Aggie Beever-Jones and Katja Snoeijs seven goals have helped them to a mid-table finish. Their most impressive result was a 1-1 draw against Manchester United at home. The club broke its attendance record when the Merseyside derby took place at Goodison Park in March when 22,161 fans watched.
Back in the WSL after winning the Championship last season, and they couldn’t have got off to a better start when they beat the champions Chelsea 2-1 at Prenton Park in their opening match. After that, Matt Beard’s side have never really struggled despite not winning away from home all season. Another impressive result came when they beat Manchester City at home. Katie Stengel finished as top scorer for the Reds, finding the back of the net nine times. Missy Bo Kearns also impressed. Liverpool got a club record attendance of 27,574 for their match against Everton at Anfield in September.
West Ham United
After a decent start, it turned into a bit of a struggle for the Hammers. They got 15 points from their first 10 games but then Paul Knochesky’s side went into a slump during the second half of the season picking up only two points from their next 10. They didn’t win a league match between December and May though one of the draws during that time was at home to Arsenal. Almost half of their 23 WSL goals have come from Viviane Asseyi and captain Dagny Brynjarsdottir who scored 12 between them.
A disappointing season for Spurs who were in danger of being relegated until the second last game. After winning three of their first five games, including an 8-0 battering of Brighton, Tottenham then lost their next nine league games until they beat Leicester in mid-March. During the winless run, Rehanne Skinner was sacked with Vicky Jepson being appointed interim manager, but this didn’t improve things greatly. Bethany England joined in January from Chelsea for a domestic transfer record fee for a women’s footballer. Her 12 goals since joining have almost single-handedly kept Spurs up.
After losing their first six matches, Lydia Bedford was sacked as manager at the end of November with Willie Kirk coming in to replace her. Even then it took another four matches until the Foxes registered their first win and points of the season in January. Since then they got 16 points in total which was enough to guarantee safety. They created WSL history by becoming the first team to turn around a seven-point deficit at the bottom of the league and stay up. Kirk made some good loan signings in January including midfielder Ruby Mace from Manchester City and goalkeeper Janina Leitzig from Bayern Munich who has made some vital saves and kept five clean sheets.
Brighton & Hove Albion
It was a season of four managers at Brighton. After picking up only three points from their opening five matches, Hope Powell resign as manger at the end of October. Amy Merricks took over until the New Year and things improved slightly. They then brought in Jens Scheuer but his spell in charge of the Seagulls only lasted two and a half months before Merricks was back in charge again. Melissa Phillips was then appointed in early April and has led them to safety by picking up seven points since taking over. Elisabeth Terland finished as top scorer with seven goals.
Reading had their normal slow start to the season but this time didn’t really recover from it. They finished bottom of the WSL and are relegated to the Championship for next season. There were signs of hope with home wins against Leicester and Tottenham in the first half of the season, but a defeat to Everton at the Select Car Leasing Stadium in April after being two goals ahead might have the final straw as heavy defeats followed this. The Royals went the whole season without picking up any points away from home adding to their problems.