As 2023-24 Women’s Super League season prepares to kick off, here is a preview for the season ahead as Chelsea look to defend their title.
Emma Hayes’ Blues will be hot favourites once more but with Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City having all added fresh talent, this season’s title race is anticipated to be one of the closest yet with Aston Villa considered serious outsiders.
Bristol City meanwhile will be looking to ensure that their return to the Women’s Super League (WSL) isn’t just for one season, as we bring you everything that you need to know ahead of the season-opener from teams to broadcast information and more.
How Many Teams Competing in WSL?
12 teams will complete in the 2023-24 WSL including reigning champions, Chelsea whilst Bristol City return to the women’s top-flight after a two-season absence, replacing Reading who were relegated at the end of last season.
Here is a full list of all 12 teams set to participate in this season’s WSL plus their main stadium, although some teams – whose main stadium is not the same as their men’s team – will play selected fixtures at the stadium of their men’s teams throughout the season.
|Brighton & Hove Albion
|Walton Hall Park
|King Power Stadium
|Leigh Sport Village
|West Ham United
How Long will 2023-24 WSL Season Run?
The 2023-24 WSL season will commence on Sunday 1 October and run across 22 matchweeks for seven-and-a-half months, climaxing with the concluding round of fixtures on the weekend of 18-19 May.
There will be a festive mid-season break commencing on 18 December 2023 after the tenth matchweek across 16-17 December, with the season resuming on the weekend of 20-21 January 2024 with matchweek 11.
How to Watch WSL?
Selected fixtures will be broadcast live across BBC and Sky Sports in the UK throughout every matchweek of the season, with all other fixtures available to be streamed on the FA Player.
Six Players to Watch Out For
Having swapped Manchester for North London after leaving Man Utd for Arsenal this summer with view to fighting for trophies, all eyes will be upon Alessia Russo to see whether she can deliver silverware for the Gunners this season.
Russo also has already established herself as the in-form striker with two goals for Arsenal en-route to their shock First Qualifying Round exit in this season’s Champions League, and has recently scored for England in their UEFA Nations League defeat to Netherlands.
Fans will also expect the 24 year-old to challenge for the Golden Boot now that she is at one of England’s greatest women’s clubs, especially once she forms a front three alongside Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema when the latter pair are both fully fit again.
Having ended Sam Kerr’s run of two Golden Boots by finishing as last season’s top goalscorer with 22 goals, Rachel Daly will surely be expected to amongst the high-scoring players once more such is her versatility across the pitch.
It is at Aston Villa though where she has excelled best as their lead forward and central attacking figure, but she will face fresh competition from Kirsty Hanson, Ebony Salmon and Adriana Leon this season which will only elevate her game for the Villains.
Either way, Daly can’t be totally discounted for a second Golden Boot if she can once more consistently display her goalscoring boots aided by a much-strengthened Villa team.
After enjoying a breakthrough summer which saw her clinch the Women’s World Cup Golden Boot, Japan’s Hinata Miyazawa has rocked up at Manchester United where she will look to be that midfield spark alongside Ella Toone and Spain’s World Cup winner – Irene Guerrero.
Famed for her raw pace and positioning to latch onto attacking opportunities whilst reading the game in terms of predicting when to make her runs during attacks, Miyazawa certainly is set for her toughest test yet as she adapts to a whole new domestic club game outside of Japan.
If she adapts and can click into Man Utd’s midfield quickly, there is little question that she could be one to watch as the Red Devils seek to challenge for the title once more but this 23 year-old midfielder will be an agile threat for any oppositional defence to handle this season.
Whilst all eyes at Arsenal will be upon Russo up front, you can’t totally ignore their defence where lies Sweden’s Amanda Ilestedt, who too is a new signing but one of immense quality as she finished the World Cup with four goal – more than any other defender at the tournament.
At her deadliest from set-pieces, Ilestedt will certainly be a difficult player to handle from corners and free-kicks plus crosses such is her ruthless aerial ability, although she can be a defensive rock in creating attacks from the back such is her quality and presence.
Now if she can bring that quality from the World Cup into the WSL then Ilestedt will certainly be a defender that nobody will wish to get on the wrong side of during set-pieces.
Although it is easy to focus attention towards new players especially in midfield, there are regular players like Chelsea’s Guro Reiten who will be just as exciting to watch out for across the season.
Reiten in particular proved a huge midfield hit last season with 18 assists and 13 goals in all competitions as Chelsea achieved the double (WSL and FA Cup), during which she was one of three player who netted more goals than the top goalscorer in the men’s team.
Now the pressure will be on her to reach similar if not new heights this season as Chelsea seek to defend their title, with Reiten set to be one of the big midfield stars of the campaign if she continues to raise her game.
Daphne van Domselaar
Established as one of Europe’s top young goalkeepers, Daphne van Domselaar is one of the stand-out goalkeeping signings this summer after she moved from Twente to Aston Villa.
Van Domselaar however faces a hard act to follow in Hannah Hampton following the latter’s move to Chelsea, yet the 23 year-old possesses great athleticism, positioning and awareness which proved key to Netherlands’ run to the World Cup Quarter-Finals.
Villa will therefore be hopeful that she can bring her World Cup form into this season because if she can find consistency early in the WSL campaign, she could well prove a difficult goalkeeper to break down much like Man Utd’s Mary Earps and Chelsea’s Zecira Musovic.
If there is any goalkeeper from outside of the ‘Big Four’ who can gatecrash the Golden Glove battle this season, you have to look at Van Domselaar because she is certainly a top goalkeeper and at 23 years-old, she is set to be one of the upcoming headline goalkeepers to watch in the WSL.