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 Hayes’ Blues 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.
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.
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.
The relegation scrap
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.