The Womens Super League has returned, riding the crest of a massive wave created by the triumphant England Women team lifting their first major honour.
Attendances are expected to soar for this season’s domestic games, with Arsenal Women’s North London Derby announcing that The Emirates is expected to house around 40,000 Gooners – at the time of writing.
Other games will be staged at The Emirates too, such is the demand and extended coverage that the women’s game is enjoying.
But we’re here to ask – what are the chances that The Arsenal can lift the league for the first time since 2019?
First off the bat, we need to look at last season.
Jonas Eidevall’s first season ended cruelly – missing out on the league title by a solitary point. Emma Hayes’ Chelsea side snatched the title with a comeback victory over Manchester United, inspired by the mercurial talents of Aussie striker Sam Kerr.
And this season will be more of the same.
Arsenal missed key personnel at crucial points of the season. Lynchpin Lia Walti, Mana Iwabuchi and playmaker Jordan Nobbs were all on the crocked list for considerable amounts of time, coinciding with the underwhelming loss to struggling Birmingham City – a loss that contributed to our league downfall.
So, what about recruitment? Has Jonas strengthened the team?
Ins and Outs
The key signing this summer so far has been Lena Hurtig from Juventus. The Swedish wide attacker comes highly rated after some impressive performances for the Old Lady of Turin – and her international exploits have also grabbed the headlines. We have also signed Hayden Mackerse from HB Koge to provide competition between the sticks.
But quite where she will fit in might demand a formation change from Eidevall.
It’s been more an activity of tidying up the squad from Eidevall this summer. The outgoing list has dwarved the incomings – but will this leave us short?
Lydia Williams, understudy to first choice Manuella Zinsberger, has joined PSG. Nikita Parris signed for Man Utd. Viki Schnaderbeck has retired, Fran Stenson has joined Birmingham City on loan and Anna Patten rejoined Villa on loan. Simone Boye has departed and Tobin Heath has gone back to her homeland to sign for OL Reign.
But some crucial activity has been to sign up pivotal players to longer contracts.
Steph Catley (who we still haven’t seen the best of), Jen Beattie, Noelle Maritz, Caitlin Foord and importantly, Viv Miedema have all signed on again. These players were all mainstays in the first eleven during last season’s campaigns and the players who left were all on the fringes of the action, so our squad now seems tighter, but more effective.
Chelsea however, have been busy.
Key purchase for the Blues has to be Kadeisha Buchanan from Lyon, to add to an already burgeoning list of defenders at the club. With Pernille Harder, Fran Kirby and Sam Kerr providing plenty up top, the Blues will be favourites for the title once again.
What’s the chances?
Jonas Eidevall will use last season’s hurt on missing out on the title to invigorate his players. Chelsea, hunting the Champions League title that eludes them, may well take their eye off the ball, but with a healthy squad, they have to be favourites to retain the title.
But pre-season has seen Arsenal look healthy and players who perhaps underperformed last season, like Foord, Maanum and Nobbs, look to be on form.
The key to Arsenal sustaining a charge will be in midfield. Kim Little often drops in to help reinforce the centre of the park, but if Walti can stay fit and we can see more of Iwabuchi, Maanum and Nobbs, we will have enough to stay near the top.
Another variable is Viv Miedema.
Arguably the greatest player to grace the WSL, she has changed role recently, playing in a number ten position that saw her ousted as the Golden Boot winner last season, but also offering plenty of creativity for the likes of McCabe, Foord and Stina Blackstenius to feed from.
It promises to be a hotly contest season.