Five reasons this could be the best WSL season ever after Euro 2022 giddiness

Ali Rampling
Chelsea lift the WSL trophy

The 2022/23 WSL campaign kicks off on Saturday, with women’s football in England riding the crest of a wave following the Lionesses’ Euro 2022 victory in July.

Chelsea are vying to be crowned WSL champions for an unprecedented fourth season, Manchester United are aiming to break into the top three for the first time, and Liverpool are back.

Could the 2022/23 season by the WSL’s most exciting yet? Here’s everything to look forward to ahead of the new campaign.


The post-Euro 2022 wave of momentum
Euro 2022 sent records tumbling on and off the pitch, with over 500,000 supporters attending across the tournament, and a crowd of 87,192 pouring in to Wembley for the final. England secured their maiden piece of silverware in front of a raucous home crowd and swept the nation along with them on their journey, while the tournament hit an all-time high in terms of drama, quality and goalkeeping standards.

Speaking ahead of the Euro 2022 final, England captain Leah Williamson branded the fixture “not the end of a journey but the start of one”.

It will be interesting to witness how the momentum generated by the tournament seeps into the WSL, and whether this can be sustained over the course of the season.

Manchester City and Reading are expecting to break various club and stadium attendance records on the opening day of the season, while Arsenal have sold over 40,000 tickets for September’s north London derby. The Gunners, City and Chelsea have all announced a selection of fixtures to be played at their club’s main stadiums throughout the season.

After previous major tournaments, there has previously been a month of increased interest followed by a fizzle. It feels different this time around – can the momentum be sustained?


The world-class summer arrivals
It’s always exciting to welcome fresh faces into the WSL, and the 2022/23 campaign is no different. Chelsea have made six summer signings in their first transfer window under the new ownership of Todd Boehly, with the addition of Canadian centre-back Kadeisha Buchanan from Lyon and exciting Swedish forward Johanna Rytting Kaneryd from BK Hacken particularly eye-catching.

Following a number of high-profile exits, Manchester City have rebuilt with a selection of exciting young signings. Nineteen-year-old forward Mary Fowler has signed from Montpellier, 21-year-old Laia Aleixandri and 23-year-old Deyna Castellanos have joined from Atletico Madrid and 21-year-old Kerstin Casparij has made the move from FC Twente.

Having narrowly missed out on the title last term, Arsenal have just made small tweaks in the window, with Sweden forward Lina Hurtig their marquee signing this summer.

As they attempt to crack the top three, Manchester United have landed prolific forward Lucia Garcia from Athletic Club, while West Ham turned heads with the recruitment of France forward Viviane Asseyi from European heavyweights Bayern Munich.


The Champions League race
Last year’s Champions League race went right down to the wire. United had been in the driving seat until stuttering in the season’s home straight, while Tottenham had been in the mix before tailing off towards the end of the campaign. This left City to steal the final European spot by concluding the season with a stunning run of nine straight wins.

Manchester United have strengthened this summer, and Marc Skinner will have the benefit of a first full pre-season with his side. City have squad turnover to contend with after nine departures and six arrivals. The Citizens have traditionally been slow starters under Gareth Taylor – due to adapting to his style during his debut season and an injury crisis in his second – and this could be the case again depending on how quickly his new-look squad can gel.

Arsenal stuttered last term when missing Leah Williamson and Lia Walti, and could get dragged into a Champions League battle should certain positions be hit with injury.

The growing strength of the rest of the league will likely see the big four drop points more frequently, and another side could spring a surprise and get themselves in the Champions League mix, as Spurs did last term.


The chasing pack
The majority of the traditionally mid-table sides have strengthened considerably during the window. Last season’s surprise package Spurs have added WSL experience and quality in equal measure with the signings of Drew Spence, Amy Turner and Angharad James – although they will miss the presence of Rachel Williams.

West Ham and Aston Villa have both enjoyed particularly strong transfer windows – the latter’s signing of Rachel Daly really caught the eye – while Everton should hopefully benefit from the stability that new boss Brian Sorensen will bring, having spent big last summer only to go through three different managers.

Although Brighton have lost key players Inessa Kaagman, Emma Koivisto and Maya Le Tissier in the summer, the club have ambitions of breaking into the top four over the coming years. This will be the team’s second season in their bespoke £8m training facility, demonstrating how the club are putting their money where their mouth is.


The return of Liverpool
Liverpool have returned to the WSL after a two-season absence, having won the notoriously tight Championship by 11 points.

It will be fascinating to see how the two-time WSL champions fare. Newly promoted Aston Villa and Leicester were both embroiled in relegation battles during their debut seasons in the top flight, but Liverpool boast vast WSL experience through manager Matt Beard, new signing Gilly Flaherty and captain Niamh Fahey.

The re-signing of Netherlands winger Shanice van der Sanden is particularly exciting, and youngsters Leanne Kiernan and Missy Bo Kearns both impressed during Liverpool’s promotion-winning campaign. The Reds should add an extra dynamic to the WSL.