Barclay’s FA Women’s Super League preview. Who can stop Chelsea?

On Friday the eagerly anticipated Barclay’s FA Women’s Super League commenced when Manchester United beat Reading 2-0. The 2019/20 season had been curtailed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with Chelsea crowned champions on a points per games basis. Chelsea were handed the title over Manchester City, who had been top when lockdown began.

Chelsea, had an extraordinary domestic season, losing just once to Brighton in the WSL, drawing three further games.  The remaining 18 games saw Chelsea concede just four goals.

Quiet summer for the holders

The holders have had a quiet transfer window, but have signed Lauren James, sister of Chelsea’s  Reece James. The Blues have also added defender Aniek Nouwen from PSV. Perhaps the best signing Chelsea have made is to extend manager Emma Hayes contract, taking her into her 10th season in charge.

Goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger also put pen to paper on a new three year deal. The stopper kept twelve clean sheets last campaign, and is a vital player for Chelsea.

As the saying goes- always the bridesmaid, never the bride- certainly applies to Manchester City Women. For the past four seasons they have finished runners up behind Chelsea on three occasions and Arsenal once.

City, looking to challenge once again

City have recruited well in the summer from Europe by signing Bunny Shaw from Bordeaux and Barcelona’s Champions League winning captain Vicky Losada. Hayley Raso and Alanna Kennedy have joined from Everton and Tottenham respectively.

If the title doesn’t fall into the hands of City or Chelsea, then this may well be the year for Arsenal Women. The North London side have appointed Jonas Eidevall as manager for the new campaign. Arsenal midfielder Danielle van de Donk left the club for European giants Lyon.

The club have recruited England striker Nikita Parris who returns to the WSL after two years in France. The front line for the Gunners has been reinforced with the signing of Japanese international Manu Iwabuchi. She signed a short term contract with Aston Villa earlier this year before moving to Arsenal in the summer.

No Casey Stone at the helm for United

When Casey Stone announced her departure from Manchester United in the summer, it sent shock waves around the women’s game. United have decided on bringing in the experienced figure of Marc Skinner, who spent three years previously at Birmingham.

It has been a quiet summer of coming and goings for Skinner, with Hannah Blundell and Aoife Mannion brought in from Birmingham.

It’s been a busy summer for Everton manager Willie Kirk, whose side finished fifth last season. Toni Duggan, Aurora Galli and Hanna Bennison have all been added to the squad, with Duggan returning back to Everton after starting her career in Merseyside.

Big transfer for Everton

Everton broke their transfer record this summer to sign Bennison from Rosengard. The 18-year-old has joined on a four year contract for a substantial figure.

Making up the rest of the league are Aston villa who have appointed Carla Ward who has made the move from Birmingham. Scott Booth has made the move down to Birmingham.

The WSL welcome Leicester City for their first ever campaign after winning the Championship last season. City have a talented coach in the shape of Jonathan Morgan.

Powell continues in her role at Brighton

Hope Powell will be taking charge of Brighton for the fifth season. Powell has brought inexperienced forward Danielle Carter to the club this summer.

In London, both Tottenham and West Ham will have their first seasons under new gaffers. Rehanne Skinner and Ollie Harder have joined the North London clubs respectively.

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