Barclays FA Women's Super League: 2022/23 Prediction
KINGSTON UPON THAMES, ENGLAND - MAY 08: Magdalena Eriksson of Chelsea lifts the Barclays Women's Super League trophy with the team following 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)

The Barclays Women’s Super League gets underway tonight with Arsenal and Brighton & Hove Albion kicking off the action, and Liverpool host champions Chelsea to round things up on Sunday evening.

Having been delayed a week by the sad news of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, the return of women’s domestic football has never been more highly-anticipated.

The Lionesses’ incredible summer of triumph brought football home with a 2-1 win over Germany in the Women’s Euros with a peak audience of over 15 million, and millions more people up and down the country will be travelling to WSL matches and tuning in on the BBC and Sky Sports at home this season.

Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City – coincidently last season’s top three – all enjoyed record season ticket sales, as have many other teams in the division. This includes Liverpool, who are back in the big time after a couple of years in the second tier.

To put the above into perspective, more than 40,000 will be in attendance at the Emirates Stadium when Arsenal host arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur later this month – over three times more than the 12,800 attendance for the same fixture on the penultimate weekend of 2021/22.

Who will be battling for glory, and which teams will be fighting to beat the drop? Jack Walker predicts the 2022/23 season.

The title contenders

Last season’s title race was simply sublime. Arsenal chased and pushed Emma HayesBlues all the way to the final weekend, but it was Chelsea who came out on top to claim a third WSL title in a row.

Spearheaded by Fran Kirby, Sam Kerr and Pernille Harder’s goals, they will be hard to stop, but I have got a feeling they’re going to be knocked off their perch.

I am backing Arsenal’s Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema to fire the Gunners to glory.

Jonas Eidevall got his side playing some incredible football last campaign, and I think they will play the big games better.

It will likely come down to who can get the better of the other each time these two meet.

Who will clinch Champions League football?

Last season, Manchester City roared back to beat local rivals Manchester United to the final UEFA Women's Champions League qualification spot, albeit losing to Real Madrid in the play-offs, but major summer departures leave them a little weak.

Their record-breaking striker, Ellen White, retired after the Euros triumph, with fellow Lionesses, and Lucy Bronze and Keira Walsh both left for Barcelona in the off-season.

They are already using some of the world-record fee received for Walsh, but United’s incomings sway the boat for me – especially considering City also lost Caroline Weir this summer.

Nikita Parris (Arsenal), Lucía García (Athletic Club), and Adriana Leon (West Ham) are the three headline-makers, with four more signings also coming through the door.

Their strength in depth is now very impressive, and I am backing Ella Toone and Alessia Russo to seriously impress.

The relegation scrap

Leicester City finished 2021/22 with 13 points – just two above relegated Birmingham City – and will need a stronger start to this campaign.

So will Everton and Aston Villa, who only recorded 20 and 21 points respectively, and this season promises to be even closer.

Liverpool’s return to the topflight should make the fight at the bottom all the more enthralling, with more teams feeling confident they can not only take points off each other, but teams higher up the division too – as showcased by Birmingham’s incredible 1-0 win over Arsenal season, albeit these performances were evidently too few and far between.

I am a sucker for a fairy-tale story, so I am going to back Liverpool to stay up – just – with Leicester’s two-season stay in the WSL coming to an end.