2017-18 WSL 1 season preview: Chelsea

One of the most consistent teams in recent years, Emma HayesChelsea side look destined to challenge for top spot once again this year.

After winning the WSL in 2015 they struggled to find momentum throughout 2016 but still pulled off a second-placed finish, but they bounced back during to Spring Series with many dominating performances to lift the title.

The Spring Series came just at the right time for Hayes, who’d brought in multiple international signings, and took advantage of the mini-season to gel them together - although this clearly didn’t take as long as some had expected.

Player movement

One of the key advantages that Chelsea have over rivals Manchester City is their lack of player turnover - the only permanent departures have been of players who were already out on loan, or had become periphery figures in the side.

Centre-back Deanna Cooper missing the season through injury will be gutting for the team but the introduction of Magdalena Eriksson and Maria Thorisdottir will certainly nurse the wounds.

Favourites once again

One only has to look down Chelsea Ladies’ squad list to see just how talented the side is, from goalscoring superstars Ramona Bachmann and Fran Kirby to the solidity of Millie Bright and Maren Mjelde. If they can get everyone playing together - like they did in Spring Series - they will be very difficult to catch.

The Blues will be desperate to reclaim their WSL and FA Cup titles from 2015, as well as make inroads in the Continental Cup. They’re in what is objectively the weakest cup group, so qualifying to the knockouts is an absolute must. They’ll be looking to end a bizarre run that has seen them never win a Conti Cup knockout game - (four losses and twice failing to qualify).

The quest for Champions League success is still going strong, although Bayern Munich will pose a very tough challenge. If Chelsea can get good results in this competition in early October, this could be key to propelling them to big success domestically as well.