Can Anyone Catch Chelsea?

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KINGSTON UPON THAMES, ENGLAND – MAY 08: Chelsea players celebrate with the Barclays Women’s Super League trophy following their side’s victory during the Barclays FA Women’s Super League match between Chelsea Women and Manchester United Women at Kingsmeadow on May 08, 2022, in Kingston upon Thames, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

2022/23 Women’s Super League Season Preview

With the announcement of the schedule for the upcoming season in the FA Barclays Women’s Super League, excitement is building for the best women’s league in the world to return. The 21/22 season was filled with twists and turns, leading to the final day. A 4-2 win took Chelsea to the title by a single point over London rivals Arsenal. With teams reloading and managers moving in preparation for the upcoming season and the return of Liverpool, it will be interesting to see how the league pans out. (Please note these teams are being reviewed in alphabetical order.)

Arsenal

2021/22 Recap

The 2021/22 campaign was an improvement for a side that finished third in the prior year. With head coach Joe Montemurro moving on after four years at the helm, Arsenal brought in Swedish manager Jonas Eidevall. Eidevall had spent the previous three years with FC Rosengård and came in with some fanfare. They started the year strong defeating Chelsea 3-2 at the Emirates and continued to march at what seemed an uncatchable pace. The difference between a title and second place was a mid-season loss to Birmingham City and a slight dip in form.

2022/23 Re-Signed

The biggest name coming back for the 2022 season is striker Vivianne Miedema. After rumors about her leaving for Barcelona, their top scorer decided to come back for another go in the WSL with Arsenal. Bringing back Miedema, even only for a one-year deal, gives Arsenal another chance to challenge. Her, Beth Mead, and mid-season acquisition Stina Blackstenius combined well in the second half of the season, so losing her would have been a monumental replacement task.

BOREHAMWOOD, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 17: Vivianne Miedema of Arsenal jumps for the ball under pressure from Signe Markvardsen of Koge during the UEFA Women’s Champions League group C match between Arsenal WFC and HB Koge at Meadow Park on November 17, 2021, in Borehamwood, England. (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

They also re-signed defenders Steph Catley and Noelle Martiz, both solid defense components from 2021. Making 18 and 19 appearances, respectively, their experience will be greatly needed to help continue the growth if Arsenal wants to continue challenging for titles on multiple fronts. Finally, they re-signed Australian striker Caitlin Foord. In 16 total appearances, Foord contributed four goals and three assists, putting her joint for the fourth most goal actions in the squad. Again a good depth piece to bring back and keep the continuity for the attack.

2022/23 Transfers/Loan Out

The Gunners lost five players from their overall squad, though only none provided vital contributions in the entire season. American wide player Tobin Heath left towards the end of the 2021/22 season due to an injury and wanted to recover in the states. In her brief time in north London (9 appearances), she provided two goals and one assist. Forward Nikita Parris left the north London outfit for Manchester United. Looking for more than the 609 league minutes played in 2021/22, Parris’s loss is another depth piece gone for the Gunners.

They also lost Lisa Evans on a full-time basis to West Ham. From a depth perspective, her loss won’t be felt as much since she spent the 21/22 season on loan with the Hammers. Finally, they let Viktoria Schnaderbeck, a veteran defender, leave on loan to Spurs for the upcoming season. Schnaderbeck did not make many appearances for the Gunners in 2021/22, like Evans; her loss won’t have as much of an impact.

Finally, backup goalkeeper Lydia Williams’s contract was not renewed. She left after 20 appearances over two years for the club for France.

Academy product Anna Patten has gone back on loan to Aston Villa for another season of development. With a more experienced group already in place, Arsenal hopes to get Patten more playing time to continue her growth. Also deadline day singing Gio Queiroz has moved to Everton. Another young prospect joining the Merseyside club, she will get opportunities to grow her game. If she had stayed at Arsenal her opportunities would have been limited.

2022/23 Transfers/Loan In

Arsenal has added goalkeeper depth by signing American Kaylan Marckese from the Danish side HB Køge. Arsenal is just coving the bases for the upcoming season by replacing their departing backup goalkeeper in Lydia Williams. They did get a good preview of her as they faced her in the group stages of last season’s Champions League.

BOREHAMWOOD, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 17: Beth Mead of Arsenal is challenged by Kaylan Marckese of HB Koge during the UEFA Women’s Champions League group C match between Arsenal WFC and HB Koge at Meadow Park on November 17, 2021, in Borehamwood, England. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

They also went out and brought in another striker to add depth to the side. Bringing in Swedish International Lina Hurtig from Juventus helps to solidify more options up front. Her felxability to both receive the ball to feet, get behind players, and win the ball in the air will add dimensions to Arsenal’s attack. She can also compliment Beth Mead on the opposite flank, give the front three of Arsenal good balance going forward.

On deadline day the Gunner’s acquired winger Gio Queiroz from FC Barcelona. They talented young prospect is one who should be able to help in the future. They then loaned her out to Everton as it will help her development.

2022/23 Expectations

Arsenal again will expect to challenge Chelsea for the title this coming season. A second-year under manager Jonas Eidevall should hopefully see the team continue to develop and take his identity. Competing in four competitions again will test their depth and the need to rotate his squad to keep them fresh at all times. Bringing back Miedema, as previously stated, was hugely important for this team’s season. With 74 league goals in her five years with the club, she is the main focal point for Gunner’s attack. Beth Mead and Stina Blackstenius helped carry the load last season, and Mead’s performance at this summer’s European Championships should bode well for the coming season. The addition of Hurtig also lessens some of the pressure on the other strikers as she will help to carry the weight of expectations.

BOREHAMWOOD, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 07: Beth Mead of Arsenal celebrates after scoring their team’s third goal during the Barclays FA Women’s Super League match between Arsenal Women and West Ham United Women at Meadow Park on November 07, 2021, in Borehamwood, England. (Photo by Harriet Lander/Getty Images)

Defensively, the Gunners return the entirety of their starting setup for the majority of the season. This will help with the continuity and growth of the team. While they had a solid defensive unit, adding depth to help cover what they hope to be a competitive season will be necessary. The midfield has steal, but with the aggressiveness of some of their players, the lack of additions here is startling.

Not making many additions outside of a goalkeeper depth replacement and one forward is a puzzling decision. With both Manchester sides adding to close the gap to the top and Chelsea going big in adding defensive pieces to challenge on all fronts, this could be costly. Eidevall has stated he is confident in the squad, and they do not need to make additions. Yet last season, they did have moments of fading at times during the season.

Aston Villa

2021/22 Recap

2021 saw Aston Villa survive for another season in the WSL. In their second overall season in the top flight of English women’s football, the Villians turned to young coach Carla Ward. The former England international had spent half the previous year in charge of rivals Birmingham City. Ward saved Birmingham from relegation amid controversy, took that experience, and brought it to Villa. Led by their outstanding goalkeeper Hannah Hampton and Ward’s guidance, this team sometimes stayed in games longer than expected. Finishing 9th with 21 points was an improvement over the previous season.

2022/23 Re-signed

Villa did not renew any expiring contracts coming into this year.

2022/23 Transfers/Loaned Out

Villa is losing a couple of crucial pieces going into this coming season. Key defender Anita Asante and joint top scorer Ramona Petzelberger have both left. Asante has retired after nearly 20 years as a professional, with 19 professional trophies to her credit. Petzelberger, the joint top scorer with three goals, will mean they need to find someone to supplement their attack. Fellow forward Shania Hayles is leaving Villa for Bristol City. Her move will be good; she should get more playing time to help with her development. Hayes did not provide a goal in her 13 appearances in her final season for Villa.

CRAWLEY, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 08: Ramona Petzelberger of Aston Villa celebrates scoring her side’s second goal during the Barclays FA Women’s Super League match between Brighton & Hove Albion Women and Aston Villa Women at The Peoples Pension Stadium on November 08, 2020, in Crawley, England. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

Midfielder Chloe Arthur will be the last big hurt for Villa this coming season. The 26-year-old Scot had spent the previous two years with Villa making 34 appearances, 27 of them starting. While only scoring one goal in those two years, her experience will be missed as while only 26, she had 88 WSL appearances.

They also lost two other forwards, the first being Jodie Hutton and the second being Sophie Haywood. These two will not be missed as much since between them in the league, only 101 minutes played, all by Hutton. Similarly, defender Natalie Haigh is leaving the club. Hugh saw reduced minutes last season after making 19 appearances for the first team in 2020/21. Her move again makes sense. The 21-year-old will look for consistent minutes to build her development like others are leaving in this window.

Leaving for the season is goalkeeper Sian Rogers will head to the Championship with Charlton Athletic. This move makes sense for both parties since Villa brought a new backup in Anna Leat this offseason (see below). The move will allow Leat and Rogers to get the game they need to further their development.

2022/23 Transfers/Loans In

July saw four incoming players for the Villians. Bringing in much-needed help up top, they acquired Simone Magill and Natasha Harding from Everton and Reading, respectively. Magill, in 9 years at Everton, produced 21 goals. Expecting to be a big piece to the Aston Villa attack, plans will have to be changed for this coming season. Sadly, she will miss some of the upcoming seasons with an ACL injury sustained during this summer’s European tournament. Harding, a versatile player, was deployed across the entire pitch last year for Reading, and while she did not score for them, she was an important player. She did get five goals for Wales, playing primarily as a right winger.

Defensively they added veteran Danielle Turner from Everton. Having spent 15 years at her home club, Turner had made 88 appearances since 2013, scoring 17 goals from an outside back position. Turner will also bring an aspect of leadership to the side as she was club captain at Everton. Finally, they have added more goalkeeper depth by bringing in Anna Leat from West Ham United. Hannah Hampton’s success and growth over the past few years is an intelligent sign that Villa is looking to the future as they may lose Hampton soon.

Aston Villa also brought defensive reinforcements by loaning in the Arsenal prospect Anna Patten. Patten had already spent the back half of last season with the club, which means this move will be good for both parties. Already being comfortable with her teammates will make for a limited adjustment period. Losing two defenders and only bringing in a winger also means this loan does an excellent job for both Villa with coverage and Patten with her development.

Versatile English international Rachel Daly is a big add later in the transfer window along with French midfielder Kenza Dali. Getting Daily from the Dash is extremely good for Villa. Her ability to play all over the park makes her invaluable to them. She scored 33 goals for Houston in 95 appearances which is a good result, and her last stint in the WSL resulted in three goals in nine appearances with West Ham. Dali will add more depth to the side as well as some creativity. They loaned in Kirsty Hanson right before the window closed. The 24-year-old striker has good experience in the WSL and should help Villa’s offensive output.

2022/23 Expectations

Aston Villa will be again hoping to survive this season. After improving from 2020/21overall with points, they hope to continue on that track. While they did improve defensively, they did not score as many goals in the previous season. If they wish to continue to challenge to stay in the WSL, they will need new addition Rachel Daly to find the back of the net. Hannah Hampton can only do so much to keep the team in games without an attacking presence. They need to improve their defensive structure if they are going to keep pace in the evolving league.

WALSALL, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 04: Hannah Hampton of Aston Villa makes a save during the Barclays FA Women’s Super League match between Aston Villa Women and Leicester City Women at Bank’s Stadium on September 04, 2021, in Walsall, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

I would expect them to be fighting to stay up. Losing a big leadership piece in their defense will make Hannah Hampton’s job even more precarious. While bringing in the Arsenal youth product Anna Patten will help to bolster the defense, she is still developing. Additionally, the signing of veteran wing-back Danielle Turner from Everton will give them much-needed experience and leadership on the back line.

Brighton and Hove Albion

2021/22 Recap

The seagulls got off to an unexpectedly promising start to the 2021/22 WSL season. With five wins in their opening seven fixtures. They then lost six of their next seven fixtures, returning them to expectations. The season was an overall success for Seagulls. Scoring the 5th most goals helped to propel them to a seventh overall placement, just a point behind West Ham United. Having their second-ever highest total points and second-best placement, things seemed to be turning towards consistency for the squad.

2022/23 Re-Signed

Brighton and Hove Albion brought back three players for another season. Mainstays Victoria Williams and Kayleigh Green are key returnees, with backup goalkeeper Katie Startup also returning. Williams was one of the four regular defenders and the only one returning from the 2021/22 season. This continuity will help Hope Powell as she looks to keep this team in the top flight. Similarly, keeping joint top goal scorer Green will ensure an experienced attacking presence in the side searching for more goals.

2022/23 Transfers/Loans Out

The Seagulls have had a rough offseason with players leaving, which worries me for this upcoming campaign. Three of their top defenders and three top four scorers from last year have left the club.

Defensively they lost Danique Kerkdijk, Felicity Gibbons, Emma Koivisto, and Maya Le Tissier. These four players combined for 68 starts and 79 appearances last year. Le Tissier, at nineteen, was a stalwart at the back, starting all 22 matches last season, the only player to do so. Her potential and ability will be a hard loss for Brighton. Similarly, Koivisto is a tough loss. The Finish international also featured in all 22 matches last season, starting 21, and providing three goals. This goal total was tied for third-most in the squad. Kerkdijk was another who started more than half of the games for the Seagulls last year. These three were the predominant starts last season. Finally, Felicity Gibbons, a 15-game player, is leaving the club as well, as once Kullburg came in on loan, she saw her minutes significantly reduced.

LEIGH, ENGLAND – APRIL 03: Leah Galton of Manchester United is challenged by Maya Le Tissier of Brighton & Hove Albion during the Barclays FA Women’s Super League match between Manchester United Women and Brighton & Hove Albion Women at Leigh Sports Village on April 03, 2022 in Leigh, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Inessa Kaagman and Aileen Whelan are the two significant offensive losses for the upcoming season. Kaagman led the team in goals created with seven, split between her four goals and three assists. While three of the goals were from the spot, they also lost their most reliable penalty taker as she was the only player to take them last year. Similarly, Whelan provided four total goal contributions, three goals, and one assist, which was third on the team.

While those are enormous losses, the team also lost four other forwards and midfielders combined. Danielle Bowman, who did not feature much, retired, while youngsters Ellie Brazil and Faith Nokuthula left to get more regular game time. Finally, midfielder Emily Simpkins also left the club. Her experience will be lost even though she has not featured regularly over her past four years with Brighton.

2022/23 Transfers/Loans In

To help lessen the losses, the Seagulls will thankfully retain the services of two loanees from the back half of last season until the end of the coming season. Both brought in from the Swedish side BK Häcken FF, Emma Kullburg and Julia Zigiotti Olme provided depth and experience as they had Champions League minutes. Kullburg, a defender, will help mitigate some of the losses, as she did feature 13 times with 11 starts. Olme is a hard-working forward who provided two goals in her eleven appearances for the club.

CRAWLEY, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 13: Deanne Rose of Reading Women breaks away from Emma Kullberg of Brighton & Hove Albion Women during the Barclays FA Women’s Super League match between Brighton & Hove Albion Women and Reading Women at The People’s Pension Stadium on February 13, 2022 in Crawley, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

They also brought in young but experienced defender Poppy Pattinson from Everton. At 22 years old, she has made 53 appearances in the WSL. This experience should help some on the backline, but she is still a young defender learning her way in the league. They also brought back defender Rebekah Scott from the A-League. Scott had a brief stint in the WSL with Brighton in the 2021/22 season, making seven appearances and starting in five of them. Again familiarity will help lessen the acclimation time, but will it be enough?

To help from an offensive standpoint, they brought in two new strikers, Veatriki Sarri and Elisabeth Terland. Sarri came over from relegated Birmingham City, posting four goals and two assists in 22 appearances over the past two years. Terland moves from the Norwegian side Sandviken, where she scored ten goals and had two assists this past year. These players are young talents, 23 and 20 respectively, but will need to prove themselves at this level. They also added midfielder Park Ye-Eun. The creative Korean could help push the attack but must settle into the squad.

They have also loaned in Chelsea defensive prospect Jorja Fox. The talented and skillful left-back/winger will give them experience as she trained with Chelsea to start last season and made several appearances, including her Champions League debut. This move makes sense for both parties as it gives Fox WSL game time experience she would not get at Chelsea this season.

2022/23 Expectations

I am worried for Brighton and Hove Albion this coming season. While they have steadily improved under Hope Powell, I have some fears about them due to the losses. They have recruited but will the replacements improve the side? Having three of the top four goal scorers leave is troublesome. With the team only producing 24 goals last season and ten of those leaving the new signings, existing players will need to make the difference. They also need to ensure they are in good shape defensively, and losing three of your four regular starters makes me worry about them staying up.

ENSCHEDE, NETHERLANDS – JUNE 15: Elisabeth Terland of Norway, Kika van Es of the Netherlands during the Friendly match woman match between Netherlands and Norway at Grolsch Veste on June 15, 2021 in Enschede, Netherlands (Photo by Marcel ter Bals/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

One of the largest things that may affect their season this year is losing some key players to rival sides. With Liverpool, Tottenham, and Leicester taking significant pieces hurts them and strengthens their competition. Hope Powell has shown she is a good manager, but this year may be too far for the Seagulls to stay up.

Chelsea

2021/22 Recap

After struggling at the beginning of the season with an opening day defeat to Arsenal, Chelsea found their form before having a dip in form leading into the winter break. They came back with a charge in the second half of the season. Led by talismanic manager Emma Hayes, they stormed back to the top of the table and won their third consecutive WSL title.

2022/23 Re-Signed

Chelsea re-signed two players for the upcoming season. Defenders Maren Mjelde and Jess Carter were both in the last year of their contracts and were brought back for another year. For Mjelde, 2021/22 was a struggle as she recovered from an ACL injury in March of 2021, but the offer of an additional year shows the trust and faith that Chelsea have in her. Carter has been a significant piece to the defense since Mjelde’s injury. Starting the majority of the games last year in the middle of the back three, the side has belief and faith in her ability.

2022/23 Transfers/Loan Out

Chelsea lost three players to free transfers ahead of the 2022/23 season. Jonna Andersson looking for more playing time, returned home to Sweden and joined Hammarby IF. After being a regular in the first team, her playing time decreased dramatically towards the end of the 2021 campaign. She was a substitute than a starter in her final season with the Blues. The club lost their longest-serving player in Drew Spence, who moved to cross-town rivals Tottenham. Similar to Andersson, Spence left the Blue to find more playing time. A vital piece in the early years of the club being a professional side, Spence was more of a role player the past couple of seasons. Spence made 223 league appearances for Chelsea, dating back to 2008.

KINGSTON UPON THAMES, ENGLAND – MAY 08: Drew Spence and Ji So-Yun of Chelsea pose with the trophy following the Barclays FA Women’s Super League match between Chelsea Women and Manchester United Women at Kingsmeadow on May 08, 2022 in Kingston upon Thames, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Chelsea lost talisman midfield Ji So-Yun. After spending eight seasons with the club, Ji decided to return to South Korea. She was possibly one of the biggest international signings in WSL history first moving to England in 2014. Her arrival brought a change to the club. Amassing 172 total appearances and scoring 48 goals, Ji was at times the heart of the Chelsea side. Not only on the pitch but off the pitch, her personality and skill will be missed.

Finally, Poppy Soper, the third-string goalkeeper for the back half of last season, left for Charlton Athletic. She was signed to provide cover if needed but was only ever on the bench. Moving to Charlton will be good as she will be able to grow.

From a loan perspective, newly signed youngster Lucy Watson is headed out on loan to Charlton Athletic in the Championship. This move was expected when she was signed though she did get to begin the preseason with Chelsea. It is a move that will help her continue growth after two good years with Sheffield United. Sadly her loan was cut short due to an ACL injury that she will rehab at Cobham. Similarly, Emma Thompson left to gain experience at Championship side Lewes FC.

They also had young, skillful defender Jorja Fox go on loan to Brighton and Hove Albion. The nineteen-year-old defender is a promising talent that graduated through the academy and will be getting valuable WSL experience after spending last season split between Chelsea and loan at Charlton Athletic. Also leaving Chelsea on loan for WSL experience is striker Aggie Beever-Jones. Beever-Jones impressed last year at Bristol City and heads up to Everton for the coming season. A move that should see her get minutes will be good for her development.

The final academy prospect loaned out was Charlotte Wardlaw. In a move that took awhile to develop, Wardlaw is heading back for another season with Liverpool. After a successful campaign to help them reach the WSL, this move suits both parties. Liverpool and Chelse a both know that she will get the time needed there. Liverpool also return a player who they trusted immensely.

2022/23 Transfers/Loan In

Chelsea has spent the transfer window reloading to challenge on all four fronts. Backed by the new ownership group, they have brought in six new players, though one will be headed out on loan.

Early on in the window, they brought in two highly rated defenders in Kadeisha Buchanan and Ève Périsset. Buchanan, a Canadian International, moves from Lyon. The four-time Champions League winner will bring experience to the backline and add to the formidable center-backs in the squad. Undoubtedly, her expertise will prove valuable as they quest to return to the Champions League final and retain the league. Périsset will add much-needed depth to the outside back position for Chelsea. The former Bordeaux player should challenge for a starting position as either a wing-back or outside back.

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 15: Millie Bright, Kadeisha Buchanan, and Johanna Rytting Kaneryd of Chelsea pose for a photograph as they fly to Portland ahead of the 2022 Women’s International Champions Cup at Heathrow Airport on August 15, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Harriet Lander – Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Further up the pitch, Chelsea brought in two players to help cover in the midfield and on the wings. In a like-for-like replacement, Czech midfielder Katerina Svitkova fills in for the loss of Drew Spence. Svitkova has spent the past two years in the WSL with West Ham United. A box-to-box midfielder, she will help cover the loss of Spence and allow Melanie Lupolz not to be rushed back after the birth of her child this upcoming fall. Johanna Rytting Kaneryd offers width in the midfield and attack. Her tendency to be wide and cut to the middle will compliment Reiten on the opposite flank. Again this is more depth for an already talented side.

Late in the window the sixth and final signing of the summer transfer window was made with Serbian international Jelena Čanković joining. The creative attacking midfielder has spent her entire club career in the Swedish Damallsvenskan amassing twenty goals and five assists. Her arrival adds to an already deep squad. It is also seen as a queue over Arsenal, as there were rumors her old coach was interested in bringing her to the Gunners.

IZMIR, TURKIYE – FEBRUARY 23: Kezban Tag (15) of Turkiye in action against Jelena Cankovic (10) of Serbia during the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup European Qualification match between Turkiye and Serbia at Gursel Aksel Stadium in Izmir, Turkiye on February 23, 2022. (Photo by Mahmut Serdar Alakus/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A young signing for the future is Lucy Watson. Poached from Sheffield United, Watson is a talented young winger who could compliment the front three in the coming years.

2022/23 Expectations

While I do not believe the title is in their hands, the aggressive and pointed signings addressed some much-needed depth. Bringing in depth across the board helps this team significantly. Their defense at times last season got exposed, and they went out to solidify their options. The midfield additions will help bolster a little need for depth due to lost players waiting for one to come back.

This season will all come down to rotation for Chelsea. The players who left after years at the club will not be easy replacements, but through their signings and the growth and return to health of others, there should not be many gaps. If Hayes can rotate her side and keep players fresh and constantly pushing for more, then I do not see why they would not claim their fourth consecutive WSL title.

Everton

2021/22 Recap

Everton came into the 2021/22 season with high expectations. Following a fifth-place finish the season prior, the team reloaded in the transfer window. Sadly things did not go as expected as the team got off to a rough start; they replaced their manager for the past three seasons, Willie Kirk, with Lyon legend Jean-Luc Vassar. Sadly his tenure was not as successful as his time in France. By February, he was shown the door. Chris Roberts and Claire Ditchburn were named interim managers and led the team to finish tenth in the league.

2022/23 Re-Signed

Everton decided to bring three players on expiring contracts back for another year. Last year’s backup keeper Courtney Brosnan was the first to be re-signed to the club. With the departure of two goalkeepers, bringing back the experienced Brosnan will help to solidify parts of the defense. They also brought back the Danish pairing of Rikke Læntver Sevecke and Nicoline Sørensen. While at opposite ends of the pitch, the two Danish internationals will help Everton greatly, given the losses this offseason. Sevecke featured eleven times for the Toffees, and Sørensen played three matches, but their experience will help this side.

2022/23 Transfers/Loans Out

Everton has undergone a large exodus from the club following the end of the 2021/22 season. Nine players from the side that finished tenth has chosen the depart the club, leaving Everton needing to fill some gaps.

Three of the team’s top four scorers have moved onto other sides for the upcoming season. Anna Anvegård, Claire Emslie, and Simone Magill scored eight of Everton’s 18 goals in league play. Losing roughly 45 percent of your team’s offensive output makes these losses challenging. Anvegård led the team in scoring while playing only fourteen of the available 22 matches. Departing after being a headline signing just a season ago is a bit of a shock, especially as the team will need all the help it can get up front. Claire Emslie and Simone Magill also leave a void up front. Emslie left for the NWSL and Magill for Aston Villa but will sadly miss the upcoming season with an ACL injury suffered at the Euro 2022 Tournament.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – MARCH 12: Anna Anvegard of Everton celebrates scoring her teams second goal with team mate Toni Duggan during the Barclays FA Women’s Super League match between Everton Women and Leicester City Women at Walton Hall Park on March 12, 2022 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Emma Simpson – Everton FC/Everton FC via Getty Images)

Looking further down the pitch, Everton lost midfielders, Grace Clinton and Kenza Dali. Clinton, a promising recent academy graduate, made eight appearances for the Potters, two of them starts. Her potential is high so losing her is tough since she would have gotten a good look this year. The loss of Dali will be felt slightly more as she was a regular in the previous season. Making twenty appearances, she had two assists in the league.

They also lost defenders, Danielle Turner and Poppy Patterson. Club captain Turner will be tough to replace. Losing her experience and leadership on and off the field will be something that needs to be addressed. She also leads the defense in appearances and starts, again underlying her importance to this side. Patterson is another young player who, at 21, made 17 appearances for the club last season. The second young talent leaving is challenging since they both could have continued to develop into crucial players for the side.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – MAY 01: Danielle Turner of Everton celebrates their sides first goal during the Barclays FA Women’s Super League match between Everton Women and Tottenham Hotspur Women at Walton Hall Park on May 01, 2022 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images)

Finally, they lost two goalkeepers in the transfer window. Young keeper Cecilía Rán Rúnarsdóttir went to Germany and Bayern Munich after never featuring for the club. The more considerable loss is last season’s starting goalkeeper Sandy MacIver. Making eighteen of the 22 starts in net, the 23-year-old shot-stopper decided to move to Manchester City. While a 62.1 percent save percentage is not fantastic, she had, like others who left potential.

Everton has loaned out one player for the coming year. New acquisition Sara Holmgaard is returning to Fortuna Hjørring, the club she first played for this coming season. This may have been in part to help them cover for the loss of Clare Wheeler to Everton. It will also be suitable for her development, though, at 23, she would have hoped to stay with Everton and has already seen a boon for her as she has played significant minutes.

Transfers/Loans In 2022/23

While he technically isn’t a player, the most important move made by Everton was appointing Brian Sørensen as their new first-team manager. Sørensen spent his entire coaching career in the Danish leagues up until this coming season. It will be seen if his success there will translate to the WSL, but his credentials will be tested this coming year.

Bringing in three players he was familiar with from his time at Fortuna Hjørring, Everton signed Danish twins Karen and Sara Holmgaard. While Sara Holmgaard was loaned out to Hjørring, they did acquire Clare Wheeler on loan in reciprocation. Wheeler, a midfielder like Holmgaard, will help bolster the defensive structure of the midfield. A tough tackling defensive holding midfielder, Sørensen will be looking to her to help reduce the goals conceded.

MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND – JULY 12: Karen Holmgaard of Denmark (R) celebrates Pernille Harder goals during the UEFA Women’s Euro England 2022 group B match between Denmark and Finland at Stadium mk on July 12, 2022 in Milton Keynes, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

They continued to look to improve their defense for the coming season by bringing in Danish left-back Katrine Veje. She does have limited experience in the WSL but has spent the past three years with perennial Damallsvenskan contenders FC Rosengård. Gaining valuable experience in the champions league and winning the domestic league will help her replace some of the club lost with Turner leaving.

Adding competition to the goalkeeping position, Everton loaned Emily Ramsey from Manchester United. The 21-year-old shot-stopper played in fifteen matches for relegated Birmingham City last season in the WSL. Looking to continue her growth, the move is suitable for all parties involved. Manchester United have their starter in Euro-winning keeper Marie Earps, and Everton only had one option coming into the offseason with two goalkeepers leaving.

Finally, needing to bolster a lacking attack, Everton added four pieces up front. Three young talents came in on loan, Jess Park from Manchester City, Aggie Beever-Jones from Chelsea, and Gio Queiroz from Arsenal. These youngsters are highly thought of in their parent clubs but need game time and experience in the WSL. Park has had game time with Manchester City since the age of 16, though last year saw her play her most minutes. She still needs more time to find her play style fully, and this move will help her.

LEIGH, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 27: Jessica Park of Manchester City during the Vitality Women’s FA Cup Fifth Round match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Leigh Sports Village on February 27, 2022 in Leigh, England. (Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images)

Similarly, Beever-Jones needs to get the WSL experience after being loaned in the Championship last year. Queiroz spent last season at Levante scoring 11 goals in 31 appearances at eighteen.

They also added a veteran attacking presence with Katja Snoeijs. The Dutch striker has found goals wherever she has played throughout her career and is entering her prime. This signing gives Everton an excellent veteran to help compliment the youngsters they brought on loan.

Expectations 2022/23

Everton has brought in some substantial reinforcements this summer but is it enough to replace what they have lost? They struggled to start the year last season but have a favorable schedule to try and get themselves results and confidence early on in the season.

The loan moves bringing in young talent gives them some help, but the lack of WSL experience may catch up to them. While I think Everton can stay up, if their coach does not settle and get this team going early, Everton could be in a scrap to avoid relegation at the end of the season. Similarly, if they do not get off to a good start, can these young players handle the pressure that will be there to perform and get the ship back on course?

Leicester City

RECAP 2021/22

2021/22 was a momentous season for the Foxes as they played in the top division of women’s football for the first time in their eighteen-year history. It was tough for them as they got off to a poor start losing their first nine matches. This caused manager Jonathan Morgan to be removed from his duties after the abysmal start on November 25 and was replaced for two weeks by Emile Heskey. They finished the season under the leadership of Lydia Bradford, and while they were able to survive the drop, it was by the slimmest of margins.

2022/23 Re-Signs

Leicester brought back several pieces from last year. Significantly they re-signed manager Lydia Bradford for two years. While the season as a whole was rough. Bradford had a considerably better showing than the previous managers. Responsible for 10 of Leicester’s 13 points, there was a significant turnaround in results during her tenure.

They also brought back on a new contract starting goalkeeper Demi Lambourne. In fourteen appearances, she allowed 32 goals, which averaged the best GA per 90 of the three goalkeepers. While there needs to be improvement this year, retaining a goalkeeper is never wrong. Two forwards also return, with youngsters Missy Goodwin and Shannon O’Brien committing the coming season to the Foxes. Goodwin, a mid-season acquisition, impressed in her six appearances, while O’Brien was a regular starting 21 matches in the 2021/22 season. At 19 and 20 years of age, staying with Leicester will ensure them time to develop at the top level.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND – APRIL 03: Missy Goodwin of Leicester City in action during the Barclays FA Women’s Super League match between Leicester City Women and Arsenal Women at The King Power Stadium on April 3, 2022 in Leicester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images)

Sophie Howard was the final member they brought back who was out of contract. Another regular in the past season, Howard made 21 appearances, 17 starts in the defense. Providing one goal, she offered some help going forward. Her veteran presence will be a welcome return for a side hoping to survive another season in the WSL.

Transfers/Loans Out 2022/23

While Leicester has six players leaving the side permanently, it was more of trimming the overall squad than losing essential pieces. The most significant loss is Esmee De Graaf. Making 21 appearances for the club, she is the only player leaving with over 21 appearances and double-digit starts (18). Her flexibility will be missed as she covered both the midfield and defense. Another steady presence leaving the club is young talent Paige Bailey-Gayle. Making twelve appearances/four starts last season, Bailey-Gayle was one for the future. Her loss is interesting since it means she was not in the long-term plans.

The other four players lost barely featured for the Foxes last season, as seen by their combined four total appearances. Two midfielders in, Luana Zamji and Elysia Boddy, left. The former never appeared for the club and returned to her native Slovenia for the coming season. Going to get more playing time in the Championship with Bristol City, Boddy made all of two appearances for sixteen minutes. Goalkeeper Sophie Hampton left after one start, as did striker Abbi Grant.

Leaving on loan were Charlotte Devlin and Sophie Barker. Barker made 13 appearances but may have been sent out as they had other younger options. She was loaned down to championship side Sheffield United, which will mean more game time for her this coming season. Devlin, another midfielder, made six appearances off the bench. With the log jam in their roster, she moved to Birmingham City in the Championship.

Transfers/Loans In 2022/23

By keeping most of their side intact, Leicester limited their incoming players for the upcoming season. They believe in their roster, only bringing in four players overall, with three being permanent signings.

The players that they brought in bring experience to the side. Josie Green comes from Spurs after seeing her playing time diminish last season. Green, a three-year WSL veteran, brings steal and resolve to Leicester’s midfield. They also brought in American defender Erin Simon to reinforce a defense that gave up the most goals last season. Simon has spent most of her career in the NWSL but had a brief stint with West Ham from 2018-2020. With both players being well experienced, Leicester will hope to see their defensive issues from last year diminish.

Striker Aileen Wheelen rounds out the permanent signings for Leicester. Having scored 17 goals in the past five seasons for Brighton and Hove Albion, she will be hoping for at least a similar return in her first season at the King Power stadium.

On loan, Leicester added midfielder depth in youngster Carries Jones from Manchester United. With United’s additions and depth, she would not have gotten much of a look, which will help with her development. She will also give Leicester more options to improve the midfield.

Expectations 2022/23

The upcoming season may be a trial too far for the Foxes. After barely surviving their first season in the top flight of women’s football, they were still seven points behind tenth-place Everton. They did improve last year under the leadership of Bradford. With their PPG, if she had been in charge, they would have ended on 18 points roughly. This still puts them two points behind Everton.

While other sides around them have had a lot of moving pieces, Leicester has kept most of their squad together. Having made modest changes to that side, there is some hope that the experience and continuity will help them this year. The issue for me is that have they improved enough to close the gap?

Liverpool

Recap 2021/22

Liverpool were runaway victors of the FA WSL Championship in 2021/22, earning promotion back into the WSL. The two-time WSL title winners returned based on a solid defensive side allowing only eleven goals on their way to the title. Combining that with a potent attack, they lost all two matches in returning to the WSL.

Re-Signs 2022/23

Liverpool brought back several key pieces for the upcoming WSL season to help avoid relegation. A big part is golden-glove-winning keeper Rachel Laws. In 19 appearances last year, she kept 13 clean sheets. Having a goalkeeper you can trust to keep you in games will be essential for them. Expecting to be the number one for this coming season, Laws will hope to have similar results in the top flight. Also returning is full-back Megan Campbell. Returning for her second season with the Reds, Campbell could finally play consistently. Overcoming numerous injuries from prior seasons, she made eleven appearances.

DURHAM, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 14: Liverpool goalkeeper Rachael Laws reacts during the Barclays FA Women’s Championship match between Durham Women and Liverpool Women at Maiden Castle Sports Park on November 14, 2021 in Durham, England. (Photo by Stu Forster – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

Also returning in defense are club captain Niahm Fahey and Leighanne Robe. Both veterans presences in the squad; they made nineteen and fifteen appearances for the side last year. Another bonus for them is that they both have WSL experience. Ensuring that they keep not only a core of players that built a togetherness the previous season but have experience in the WSL could be helpful for their attempt to stay up this season.

The final pieces coming back from last season are midfielder Ceri Holland and winger Melissa Lawley. Holland has been a regular for the club since arriving in January of 2021. Scoring three goals in 28 appearances for the club, she will be expected to continue performing for the side. Lawly made 21 appearances for the club last season and has been a constant in the side for the past three seasons.

They also signed youth product Lucy Parry to her first professional contract. While she will not be with the squad this year, it is a good step in her development.

Transfers/Loans Out 2022/23

Three players left Liverpool this summer after their contracts were not renewed. Jade Bailey, Meikayla Moore, and Rianna Dean have moved on to other options. Jade Bailey is still looking for a new home. The journeywoman midfielder spent three seasons with the Reds making twenty appearances and scoring one goal. Moore, an outside back, spent two years in Merseyside. Only making nine appearances in their championship run, she moved north to Scottish side Glasgow City. Finally, 23-year-old forward Rianna Dean moved down to Championship side Crystal Palace. After only making three appearances for Matt Beard’s side, she will look for consistent playing time to grow and garner more attention.

Liverpool has loaned three players out for the upcoming year, with two youngsters looking to gain more experience. Goalkeeper Charlotte Clarke is heading the Championship and playing for West Bromich Albion. Clarke has appeared for Liverpool before, but the loan will be necessary for her growth. The loan’s parameters are intricate as it will see her train with Liverpool several times a week. They also sent new professional Lucy Parry to the Scottish side Hibernians. Again this will be good for Parry’s growth as she is just getting her first experience as a professional.

The last player loaned out is midfielder Ashley Hodson. The eight-year veteran moves to championship side Birmingham City. A good move for Birmingham; it also guaranteed her playing time and an essential role in trying to get Birmingham back up into the WSL.

Transfers/Loans In 2022/23

Liverpool has brought four players to reinforce the squad before returning to the WSL. Looking to strengthen their outside flanks Liverpool signed Emma Koivisto. Moving from Brighton and Hove Albion, her WSL experience will be a good influence on the backline. Playing almost every minute since her original move to the WSL, she has been a stalwart at the back. They also added veteran defender Gilly Flaherty. Flaherty, a two-time winner of the WSL, brings a vast amount of experience to their defense for their coming charge to stay in the top flight.

Goalkeeper Emma Cummings moves from Championship side Charlton Athletic. Most likely, back up behind Rachel Daws; it gives her time to mature and grow. It also offers Liverpool another goalkeeper for the future.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – AUGUST 27: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Shanice van de Sanden of Liverpool looks on during the Pre-season friendly match between Manchester City Women and Liverpool FC Women at Manchester City Football Academy on August 27, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

The marquee signing of the offseason is Dutch striker Shanice van de Sanden. European Champion van de Sanden comes to the club from German giants VfL Wolfsburg. With Wolfsburg reloading, van de Sanden’s move makes sense. Returning to England and a club she has previously played for earlier in her career. She also spent last year playing for the Wolfsburg development team, so this move will also be good for her to play at a higher level again.

Liverpool also brought back Chelsea player Charlotte Wardlaw. A key piece to their successful season in the Championship, there were difficulties in getting this deal across the line. Originally Liverpool wanted her on a full signature but Chelsea were unwilling to budge on only a loan agreement. Knowing it was best for both sides and the players development the loan was made on deadline day. This move is excellent for all involved since Liverpool get a player they know and trust and Chelsea know she will get the game time needed to continue her development.

Expectations 2022/23

Matt Beard is a vastly experienced manager from his time with Chelsea, Boston, and other WSL clubs. This will be invaluable as Liverpool fight to stay at the top level of football. Adding van de Sanden will help a potent attack grow in a higher division. With their additions and re-signings, this side should have the depth and experience to compete in the upcoming season.

I believe this team has the experience to stay in this division. They expect to compete and push to not be in a relegation scrap. They should stay out of the bottom if they can stay healthy.

Manchester City

Recap 2021/22

Due to injuries City got off to a poor start in the 2021/22 WSL season. Losing four of their opening seven matches put them in a hole that was too much to catch up to eventual champions Chelsea. As they regained health and pieces, they made a strong push and ended up finishing ahead of rivals Manchester United for third. This finish qualified them for the first round of UWCL qualification.

Re-signed 2022/23

Manchester City did not re-sign any of their players on expiring contracts to new deals.

Transfers/Loans Out 2022/23

Manchester City lost seven players in the summer transfer window. Three of these players decided to hang up their boots, while others left for new challenges.

Jill Scott, Karen Bardsley, and talismanic forward Ellen White all retired ahead of the 2022/23 season. Goalkeeper Bardsley had been dealing with long-term injury after her season in the NWSL with the OL Reign. After not featuring, she retired this past summer. Jill Scott had seen her playing time diminish over the past several seasons with the Citizens before being loaned out to Aston Villa to end the season. Scott was named to the England side that won the Euro’s and afterward decided to retire. Similar to Scott, after England won the Euros, White retired from football. The 33-year-old striker had been a consistent force in City’s setup the past three seasons. An inspiration to many players, her ability to find a way to score when needed or just an annoyance will be missed.

They also lost four core pieces from the past couple of seasons, as others left for new challenges. Longtime defender Lucy Bronze left for Spain as she joined Barcelona. Bronze had two stints on the blue side of Manchester. A hard tackling, pacey outside back with a good cross, she had two goals and seven assists in her last two seasons. Also leaving for Spain is Scottish midfielder Caroline Weir. While Manchester United will be happy to see her go, City will lose another staple of their side for the past four seasons. Scoring 24 goals and providing 18 assists in her time with the Citizens, her skills will be a loss for the side.

Caroline Weir coming back to haunt her old side in the UWCL qualification role.

The second midfielder in Georgia Stanway decided to move to German giants Bayern Munich. Developed by the youth academy, this is a massive loss for Manchester. Since her debut, she has provided thirty goals in all appearances. Her ability to provide goals while deployed as more of a holding midfielder made her a tactical issue for the opposition. Backup goalkeeper Karima Benameur Taieb left to return to France with Marseille. Making ten starts last season due to injuries to the starting goalkeepers, Taieb was exposed at times. She allowed 18 goals in her ten starts in the league, though half of those were in the two matches against Arsenal and Chelsea.

Dynamic midfielder Keira Walsh followed Lucy Bronze to Barcelona late in the transfer window. Walsh was pivotal in her time on the blue side of Manchester. Her vision, tackling, and ability to add a goal made her an all-around midfielder that helped them control the midfield.

Young talent Jess Park was loaned out to Everton to gain valuable WSL experience in the coming year. After extending her contract for three more seasons, Park hopes to come back after this loan and be a part of the first team setup.

Tansfers/Loans In 2022/23

Needing to rebuild due to the summer losses, six players were brought in to fortify the ranks. To reinforce the defense, they turned to Sapin and recruited Leila Ouahabi and Laia Aleixandri. Ouahabi moved from Barcelona in almost a direct swap for Lucy Bronze. Considered one of the better left-backs in the world, this addition will firm up the backline for City and give them an answer for the strength some of their top opposition has on the wings. Aleicxandri is a young talent who will add depth at center back. She scored three goals in 48 appearances for Atlético Madrid. The final defensive addition Kerstin Casparij is another young talent. A player who can fit in both the midfield and defense will help cover Stanway’s loss.

Another addition to the midfield is Venezuelan talent, Deyna Castellanos. Castellanos was the creative force in Atlético Madrid’s midfield the past two seasons. Scoring 23 goals in just two and a half seasons in the Spanish capital, she fills the void left by Caroline Weir. They also brought in young Australian talent Mary Fowler. While only nineteen, she has seen plenty of playing time with Montpellier over the past two years. How much game time she sees in Taylor’s side will be seen.

MADRID, SPAIN – AUGUST 21: Manchester City’s Mary Fowler in action during the Women’s Champions League match against Real Madrid at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano on August 21, 2022 in Madrid, . (Photo by Lynne Cameron – Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

Lossing two goalkeepers caused Manchester to bring in talented shot-stopper Sandy Maclver from Everton. After struggling in the early season due to Ellie Roebuck’s injury, getting a good backup was paramount. This ensures coverage in case the worst happens again. With her experience in the WSL, it also isn’t bringing in someone who has to adapt to the league.

The late loss of Keira Walsh saw City replace her with West Ham midfielder Yui Hasegawa. A similar style player, Hasegawa will need to get acclimated to her new teammates quickly to help them keep pace with their rivals. In her loan season in the WSL, she produced two goals and two assists. Those numbers should increase with the new talent around her, but the team will need to get her in as quickly as possible.

Expectations 2022/.23

Manchester City is in for some heavy turnover with the number of players who left in the summer transfer window. Losing eight players overall, including some of their longtime players, will make for a new look side. Having the opening rounds of the UWCL will have helped this side gel ahead of the WSL season. There are also rumors running that Gareth Taylor does not hold the command or respect of all of his players. If he loses his locker room, it could spell trouble for their aspirations.

I expect them to challenge Chelsea for the title this season. While rumors of dissent with Gareth Taylor have always slipped out, he is a good manager that can give Hayes a challenge. They have been the most formidable challenge for Chelsea the past couple of seasons and should keep this up. Missing out on the UWCL group stage will give them some advantages as they will not have as many games.

Manchester United

Recap 2021/22

2021/22 began with Marc Skinner taking over from Casey Stoney as she resigned and moved to the NWSL. Skinner inherited a good squad and got them off to a good start in the league. They had a problem with being unable to keep a lead giving back 12 points from winning positions. This caused them to never fully challenge for the title. A 1-0 loss to City in match week 15 put them behind the ball in champions league qualification, and they again ended the season 4th in the table.

Re-signed 2022/23

Manchester United brought back midfielder Lucy Staniforth on a one year contract. The veteran midfielder has been in the WSL since its foundation and has spent the past two seasons with the Red Devils. Primarily a depth player for them, she can continue to help with coverage.

Transfers/Loans Out 2022/23

Manchester United have trimmed down their squad with 13 players leaving either permanently or on loan. Four of the permanent deals were youth players who had not seen much time with the first team. Karna Solskjær moves back to Norway after making one first-team appearance in the FA Cup. Defender Poppy Lawson signed her first professional contract with Hibernian in Scotland. After spending the last four years on loan, Fran Bentley left for Championship side Bristol City and forward Maria Edwards heads off to Germany to play for SGS Essen.

They also lost fringe players in Diane Caldwell, Martha Harris, and Kirsty Smith. Diane Caldwell had only recently joined United on a short-term contract at the beginning of the season. While she made six appearances, she was not re-signed when the season ended. Harris had been with the club since they were formed in 2018, though limited playing opportunities saw her contract run out as she was deemed surplus to needs. Similarly, Smith joined when the team formed in 2018, saw limited appearances over the past couple of seasons and left to find more playing time when her contract ran out.

United has loaned out six players across the divisions and Europe to get some youth players’ experience and more game time for others. First teamer Ivana Faso has joined Bayer Leverkusen on a season-long loan. Faso was finally healthy to see out an entire season in a career riddled with injuries. Limited playing time due to recovery combined with others performing well has led to this loan so she can develop and get playing time. Kirty Hanson also left United on loan. While disappointing numbers in her appearances last season, she had been a key part of the team the past four years. Moving to Aston Villa on loan could see her give more of a lease on life.

In the same vein, youth players Carrie Jones, Tara Bourne, and Emily Ramsey have left to gain experience. Tara Bourne is headed down to the Championship with Bristol City. The defender will look to impress and grow in the upcoming season. Jones and Ramsey were loaned out to WSL sides Leicester City and Everton. Both clubs will be good places for them to get experience at the top level of football as they have shown a commitment to playing the younger players. They will both possibly be in the relegation scrap, so it will help United see how they can handle pressure.

In one of the more intricate moves a WSL team can make, young pair Chloe Williams and Niamh Murphy have joined Blackburn Rovers on a dual registration situation. Dual registration will allow them to train and play for either Blackburn or the United WSL academy team throughout the year. These moves allow for both sides to benefit, as they will gain experience playing for either side, giving them more opportunities to grow.

Jackie GROENEN of Manchester United and Maxilimiane RALL of Bayern Munchen during the Women AMOS Cup final between Manchester United and Bayern Munich at Stade Ernest Wallon on August 19, 2022 in Toulouse, France. (Photo by Franco Arland/Icon Sport via Getty Images)

Extremely late in the transfer window, United also lost midfielder Jackie Groenen to French outfit PSG. Groenen is a substantial loss for the Red Devils. An anchor for the midfield, her ability as a holding midfielder gave United more freedom in the attack. Losing her this late also makes it difficult to replace her fully.

Transfers/Loans In 2022/23

United has worked hard in the summer transfer window to ensure the team was ready for the challenges of chasing down the champions league places this upcoming WSL season.

Working to solidify a backline that had some moments last season, they added Maya Le Tissier and Aïssatou Tounkara. Young talent Le Tissier is quite a get for the Red Devils. Starting every match of the last two WSL seasons, the 20-year-old has four professional seasons in the WSL under her belt. Her experience at such a young age will be a boon to the backline. Similarly, Tounkara brings a vast amount of experience to the side. Having spent the past four years with Atlético Madrid, she has experienced some of the toughest competitions.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 15: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Adriana Leon, Alessia Russo, Lucy Staniforth, Aissatou Tounkara of Manchester United Women in action during a training session at Carrington Training Ground on September 15, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

They also fully reinforced their attack, bringing in four forwards to ensure depth across the front. Veteran forwards Nikita Parris, Rachel Williams, and Adrianna Leon bring good depth options for Marc Skinner. Parris and Leon should offer more on the wings for the United attack. Spending the beginning of her career with Manchester City, Parris eventually returned to the WSL after spending some time in France. While her year at Arsenal was not as fruitful as she would have wanted, she has a history of scoring goals wherever she goes.

Leon has spent the past four seasons with West Ham, and while the goals haven’t been there, six in four seasons, her pace and crossing ability will be an advantage with Russo’s ability in the box. Williams is a journeyman center forward that can help to supplement Russo in the middle of the pitch. With over ten years of WSL experience, she can also be a sounding board to ensure players are ready for the challenges of the upcoming season.

Their final offensive addition is Lucía García. The Spanish forward has been a consistent performer in Primera División de la Liga de Fútbol Femenino for Athletic Bilbao. With a return of 63 goals in 161 appearances for the Bask side, it will be seen if she can produce those results in England. Their final addition was midfielder Grace Clinton from Everton. The youngster has limited experience in the WSL but is a good youth product to add to the ranks.

Expectations 2022/23

In his first complete transfer window as United manager Marc Skinner has wholly revamped his side. This is now officially Marc Skinner’s side. Their push in the summer transfer window has added depth where it was needed last season. After allowing twelve points to slip past them from winning positions, the additions on defense should help them be more solid throughout matches and close-out games. The substantial additions across the board also mean they can challenge in all three competitions and rotate the squad more than last year.

Hannah BLUNDELL of Manchester United during the Women AMOS Cup final between Manchester United and Bayern Munich at Stade Ernest Wallon on August 19, 2022 in Toulouse, France. (Photo by Franco Arland/Icon Sport via Getty Images)

With everything they have done this summer, they should be challenging for the top three. The late loss of Groenen should not change where they expect to be but may keep them in a pack that is pushing for the top spots instead of being able to pull away potentially. While I do not think they are ready to challenge the title, their depth and additions should keep them in the top four and push for that third position.

Reading

Recap 2021/22

Reading had another solid year in the WSL in the 2021/22 season. While it ended in disappointment with their eighth-place finish, they showed good resolve and success in the middle of the season. They went undefeated during a stretch of eight game weeks, including an impressive 1-0 win over Chelsea. This stretch propelled them to fifth in the table before going winless til the end of the season saw them drop back down.

Re-signed 2022/23

Reading brought back four players on expiring contracts ahead of the 2022/23 WSL season. Three veterans and one incredibly talented youth product will be heading back to the Adams Park Stadium. Emma Mitchell, who missed last season due to giving birth and having maternity leave, was an automatic starter in her one season at Reading. Bringing back that reliable player will be a boon to the side. Likewise, Deanna Cooper re-signed for two more years. The former WSL winner, she has been a rock at the back since joining in 2020. The third veteran player is Lily Woodham, who at 22 has been a regular in the side since the 2020/21 season. Bringing back these three defenders is an excellent way to keep the team’s continuity for the upcoming campaign.

Reading’s Tia Primmer (third left) scores their side’s second goal of the game during the Barclays FA Women’s Super League match at Walton Hall Park, Liverpool. Picture date: Sunday February 6, 2022. (Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images)

Youth product Tia Primmer has signed her first professional contract with the club. At 17, she broke into the first team setup, making ten appearances with three starts. The midfielder will hope to see her development continue and these numbers increase. Keeping ahold of the young prodigy is suitable for Reading as it shows their commitment to youth development and belief in the program.

Transfers/Loans Out 2022/23

Reading kept the majority of their team together from last year. They did lose a big leadership piece in captain Natasha Harding. Harding had been Reading since the 2017 season, which makes her loss challenging. Starting all but one game the past two seasons, Harding has been a consistent player for them. Losing someone who is that regular and your captain will increase the importance of resigning the above players.

Midfielder Chloe Peplow was loaned down to Championship side Crystal Palace. Peplow made 13 appearances for this team last season, which would have given her hope to make an impact this year. Palace is pushing to try and move up to the WSL after finishing fourth last term. This will be a good move as she should see more game time and Reading have a deep squad already.

Transfers/Loans In 2022/23

Looking to add depth and more bite to a squad that managed only 20 goals last season, Reading added attacking talent Charlie Wellings from Celtic and Lauren Wade. Wellings had a fantastic return, netting 40 times in 34 appearances. A former Birmingham City academy player, she returns to the WSL more accomplished and ready to lead the line. Northing Irishwomen Wade plays primarily out of the midfield. She has been paramount in building Northern Ireland’s success in recent international matches.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – DECEMBER 05: Celtic’s Charlie Wellings goes close during the SWPL Cup Final between Glasgow City and Celtic at Firhill Stadium, on December 05, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Rob Casey/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Reading also added fellow Northern Irish goalkeeper Jackie Bruns. Most recently playing in Sweden, Burns has also been the regular keeper for the national setup. Her time with Northern Ireland has, like Wade, has seen the team’s most tremendous success. Winning eleven matches for Euro and World Cup qualifying over the past two years, it will be interesting to see how she fairs in the WSL.

Wanting to ensure there is depth in the back, Reading also signed three defenders. Returned to the club after multiple years is Becky Jane. Jane previously spent eight years with the Royals between 2011 and 2019. Making 112 appearances during that time, Jane will bring a presence and understanding of who this club is. They also brought in experienced players Diane Caldwell and Brooke Hendrix. Both have experience in the WSL, which will help allow Reading to rotate at the back throughout the season and stay fresh.

Expectations 2022/23

Reading showed last year that they could do the job during their eight-week unbeaten streak. If they can find a way to continue that form, they can challenge to equal their best result in the English top flight. Adding Wellings will help improve a weak strike force. Getting a goal scorer who averaged over a goal per appearance should help, as they averaged under a goal per match. While it will have to be seen if there is an adjustment period, this could be what they need to mount a good push in the league.

While I do not think they have the talent to challenge for a top-four spot, it will be interesting to see how they grow this upcoming season. They should not be anywhere near a relegation battle at all.

Tottenham Hotspur

Recap 2021/22

Tottenham got off to a perfect start at the beginning of the 2021/22 season. Winning their opening four matches before a surprise loss to Brighton and Hove Albion led to a slight dip in form. They continued their good play and held a top-three position well into the season. A late season stretch of losing five of their final seven games saw them fall to fifth in the standings.

Re-Signed 2022/23

Tottenham decided not to re-sign any players who were on expiring contracts.

Transfers/Loans Out 2022/23

Veterans Josie Green, Rachel Williams, and youngster Angela Addison all moved to other clubs after their contracts expired. Addison made sixty-six appearances for Spurs in her four years with the club. She moves to Championship side Charlton Athletic for an increase in game time, as she was recently more of a cameo player than a critical piece. Green and Williams stayed in the WSL, moving the Leicester and Manchester United, respectively. Green was always a role player for Spurs. Her leadership will be a loss for someone who helped Spurs get into the WSL as she was named club captain and vice-captain in recent seasons.

Rachel Williams was a regular forward for the 2021/22 season. Making 21 starts and appearing in all 22 games, she scored four goals and had two assists. The team’s leading scorer will be a loss, but relying on a 34-year-old to lead your line can be dangerous in an ever-improving WSL.

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 04: Noelle Maritz of Arsenal in action with Rachel Williams of Tottenham Hotspur during the Barclays FA Women’s Super League match between Arsenal Women and Tottenham Hotspur Women at Emirates Stadium on May 4, 2022 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Tottenham also transferred out two players. Young Canadian talent Silvana Flores moved back to North America to Monterrey in Liga MX Women. Flores did not feature in the 2021/22 season, so the loss is more one of the future than what she brought to the side last year. The second loss is a bit more critical. A 21-game starter last season, the hard-tackling midfielder will be heading to Switzerland and league champions Servette FC Chênois Féminin.

Looking to get their youth players more experience, Coventry United brought two academy products in from the North London outfit. Goalkeeper Eleanor Heeps and defender Esther Morgan move to keep their development moving in a good direction.

Transfers/Loans In 2022/23

Tottenham did a good job bringing in pieces to complement and reinforce their current roster. They signed seven new players to improve their 5th-place finish from the previous season. The Lilywhites brought in veteran players to help try and ensure that the late season drop in form does not happen again. Two players return to England after spending time in the NWSL with Orlando Pride. Amy Turner and Angharad James add experience to the bench and can be good additions to a side pushing for the top three positions.

In a similar vein, Spurs brought in former Chelsea star Drew Spence. Spence brings the knowledge of what it takes to win, having won 11 trophies in her time at Kingsmeadow. While she was more of a bench player in her last seasons, she should be a valuable piece for Spurs as both a starter and bench player.

KINGSTON UPON THAMES, ENGLAND – AUGUST 28: Drew Spence of Tottenham Hotspur and Jessie Fleming of Chelsea embrace following a pre-season friendly match between Chelsea FC Women and Tottenham Hotspur Women at Kingsmeadow on August 28, 2022 in Kingston upon Thames, England. (Photo by Harriet Lander – Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Tottenham also reinforced the attack with a trio of young talent. Ellie Brazil comes in from Brighton and Hove Albion with a wealth of experience for being such a young player. Having 50 starts and 65 WSL appearances by 23 is impressive. While the goal-scoring record leaves you wanting, she has the potential and experience to improve this side. Also, Nikola Karczewska arrives from French Side FC Fleury 91. In her one season in the French top division, she produced ten goals in 21 appearances. This is an excellent return, but she will need to adapt to the physicality of the WSL. Celin Bizet Ildhusøy rounds out their influx of youth. The twenty-year-old Norweigan forward has had limited time in her previous clubs and will be looking for a foothold.

The final signing is German striker Ramona Petzelberger. Petzelberger spent the past two years with Aston Villa and was their joint top goal scorer last term. The attacking midfielder will add drive and help open up options for the Spur’s attack. Taking her from another WSL side strengthens their hold on a top-five spot in the league by weakening their rival.

Expectations 2022/23

The Lilywhites were an impressive side in the 2021/22 season. Only a late-season significant dip in form cost them a shot at European football this year. While that will again be a tough ask, adding the veteran presence, especially Spence, will help. Being able to lean on a player who has been there helps the entire locker room to get through the challenging periods. They strengthened their attack by adding some exciting young pieces. It will be seen if they can settle into their new surroundings.

If this team can find the rhythm they had last year and keep the momentum, they should be trying to make a push for 3rd place in the table. While other sides may have more talent, Spurs’ depth could make them dangerous when you look at the lack of recruitment by other teams in the top four.

West Ham

Recap 2021/22

West Ham had a good season in 2021/22. They improved by twelve points over the previous season and ended up 6th in the table. West Ham never had a surge or drop in form for the season. They kept themselves in the middle of the table for the entire year. A step up from being towards the bottom of the table, they will hope to see growth in the coming season.

Re-signed 2022/23

West Ham re-signed four key players from the previous two seasons. Mackenzie Arnold, Kate Longhurst, Dagný Brynjarsdóttir, and Hawa Cissoko all bring their experiences back to try and continue to climb the ranks in the WSL. All four were regular starters for the Hammers. Arnold made eighteen starts in net and kept three clean sheets. The top goalscorer from last season, Brynjarsdóttir, scored four and six goals in the league overall.

Keeping continuity in your defense is essential. Bringing back both Longhurst and Cissoko shows they want to try and improve this team. This bodes well for their future if they can continue growing together with the three backline pieces.

Transfers/Loans Out 2022/23

West Ham lost a good number of players in the summer transfer window. Captain Gilly Flaherty, Lois Joel, Anna Leat, Kateřina Svitková, and Zaneta Wyne were all deemed to be surplus as their contracts were allowed to run out. Leat and Joel were both bit part players last season. Leat made four starts in goal, and while she had good performances, she could not supplant Mackenzie Arnold as the main starter. Similarly, Lois Joel made ten substitute appearances for the club, managing only one hundred and thirteen minutes.

DAGENHAM, ENGLAND – APRIL 16: Kateřina Svitková of West Ham United during The Vitality Women’s FA Cup Semi-Final match between West Ham United Women and Manchester City Women at Chigwell Construction Stadium on April 16, 2022 in Dagenham, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

Last year, Flaherty, Svitková, and Wyne were essential pieces to West Ham. Flaherty played and started 19 matches for the club last season, and all of her 73 league appearances and her experience will be tough to replace. Losing your club captain is never easy in terms of leadership, experience, and dependability. Svitková had spent the two previous seasons with the London outfit scoring five goals and providing four assists. A good box-to-box midfielder, her dynamic runs helped to create space for others. Finally, Zaneta Wyne was another regular for the side who performed well in her sole year in the WSL. She moved back home to the NWSL and has done well since then.

Leaving the club through mutual consent Tameka Butt/Yallop moved to Norwegian club SK Brann Kvinner. While she made 16 appearances in her sole season in East London, she seems to be a player that frequently moves from team to team. She did play a reasonable amount which again makes things difficult for replacements to come in.

West ham also sent Grace Garrad to Watford on a dual-registration. The dual-registration will allow them to keep her around if needed, get playing time down with Watford, and grow as a player.

Off the pitch, manager Olli Harder decided to leave the club. He had been in charge for the previous two seasons, but with his assistant, Paul Konchesky taking over, things should be continuous.

Transfers/Loans In 2022/23

To help navigate the upcoming season, West Ham brought in twelve new players. They looked at young, exciting talent and experienced veterans to help shape new coach Paul Konchesky’s side.

Youthful talents Alex Hennessey, Jessica Zu, Halle Houssein, Thea Kyvåg, Keira Flannery, Isibeal Atkinson, and Sophie Hillyerd all can help the team currently and in the future. Houssein returns to West Ham after spending the back half of last season on a dual-registration between Arsenal and West Ham. She did get limited minutes in the WSL, but at her young age, it is a start to seeing her growth. Another youth product joining from Arsenal is Keria Flannery. A 16-year-old is one for the future of this club. She may get some playing time, but she may still be too young. Hennessey also moves to the club from Arsenal. Never really getting a look, she spent the back half of the season at Crystal Palace on loan. Moving across London may see her get more playing time, but she may need another loan.

Young striker Thea Kyvåg has already seen a good amount of playing time for LSK Kvinner. At 18, she had already made 40 appearances for the first team and was at the U-19 championships with Norway. Sophie Hillyerd is a promising goalkeeper who replaces Anna Leat on the roster and gives West Ham a keeper for the future. Lastly, Isibeal Atkinson, the oldest of the bunch, comes in from Celtic. Coming in with UWCL experience it will be a good step in her career development. Another good addition, if West Ham can develop this group, they could become a force in the coming years.

From a veteran standpoint, West Ham looked to replace what they could. They brought in two Japanese national team members, defender Risa Shimu and midfielder Honoka Hayashi. Shimu has spent her entire prior career in Japan. Making 165 appearances, her defensive aptitude will help cover some of the losses incurred. Moving from AIK in Sweden, Hayashi brings some attacking threat to the midfield. With six goals in thirty-three appearances last year, she hopes this transfers to the WSL.

Two players with WSL experience coming in for the side are former Arsenal player Lisa Evans and Manchester United player Kirsty Smith. Evans will be a comfortable return after spending part of the previous season on loan with the Hammers. Making twelve starts in sixteen appearances, Evans became a crucial midfielder in a short time in East London. Kirsty Smith hopes the change will see her get more playing time than she has seen recently with Manchester United. Changes of scenery usually do players well, and with some of the veterans that left, she will be necessary to this side.

MUNICH, GERMANY – NOVEMBER 15: Viviane Asseyi (#18) of Bayern München celebrates scoring the opening goial with her team mate Lineth Beerensteyn during the Flyeralarm Frauen Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Women and VfL Wolfsburg Women at FC Bayern Campus on November 15, 2020 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

Finally, they brought in striker Viviane Asseyi. Having spent the last two seasons with Bayern Munich, this is an excellent signing. She has been productive in front of net everywhere she has been. With 116 goals in 245 first-team appearances, it is slightly below a goal every other game. This return could help West Ham, and her experience in Germany and the UWCL should make this an easy transition.

Expectations 2022/23

While they did have a massive turnover, the club should still be in good shape for the upcoming season. There are enough teams with issues on their side that West Ham should not struggle to stay in the league this year. While they may not be as high in the table as last year, they should not be dragged into a relegation scrap.

I expect them to loan out some of their young talents so they can grow. But everything should be similar to last season for this group.

Final Thoughts

The Barclay’s Women’s SUper League is the best league for women’s football in the world. Last year’s push until the final match day shows how far the league has come in the past couple of years. The incoming transfers show the league’s power, and they want to play there.

I do not think this season will see a change in title holders. What Emma Hayes has done in the transfer window is nothing but impressive. While Chelsea’s main goal for this season will most likely be getting the elusive champions league trophy two years removed from a highly disappointing final, their added pieces will allow them to commit on any front fully. Arsenal has not improved, and with City and United losing key elements, it will be seen if they can mount a change at the title holders.

Some may say this is biased since I am a Chelsea supporter, but to be blunt, in my opinion, it is Chelsea’s title to lose.

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