The newly expanded Women’s Super League will get under way this April and the popularity has increased season by season. It’s the highest division in the female game here in the UK and teams are starting to attract some of the big names from elsewhere in Europe and in particularly Asia where the game is thriving. Here is a preview looking at the teams to watch out for this year.
The Blues have had great success over the past few years in the WSL finishing as runners up in 2011 and then again the following year. In 2012, they won the women’s FA Cup beating Chelsea and their second place finish in the league enabled them to qualify into the Champions League alongside Arsenal. Most recently, the two faced off in the quarter finals of the European competition and the Midland outfit came off as the winners over two legs and will now play in the semi-finals against Swedish side, Tyreso who have the Brazilian and five time player of the year, Marta, in their side. Unfortunately, last year the team finished fourth meaning they missed out on a place in the next Champions League campaign but this could be a blessing as this allows more concentration to be put into the league campaign. Manager, David Parker, has assembled a very young squad for this season with the average age calculating at 23. The strikers are especially younger but they have a great pairing up front with former Liverpool striker, Hannah Keryakoplis teaming up with England veteran, Karen Carney.
Liverpool Ladies claimed their first Super League title last year and much of their success was due to the way they and the club organised their training. Originally the team would train once a week but now they train four times a week at Liverpool’s training ground, Melwood and have been pictured working alongside the men. Great investment has gone into the female side after years of failure when the team would often finish bottom of the division. They signed 12 new players last season including Fara Williams, another England international, and Icelandic star, Katrin Omarsdottier. As well as Omarsdottier, Liverpool have an array of foreign talent from Sweden and Germany which made them one of the hardest teams to beat last year and they look on course for another solid season under Matt Beard.
Arsenal and Chelsea:
Originally when you think of women’s football you look to the Gunners who have always had a strong side and have been pictured year after year lifting cups on the television. They won the first two Super League campaigns following on from their decade of domination under the Premier League but have had their authority challenged recently. They missed out on European qualification in 2013 for only the second time in their history after finishing third. To tackle this problem, the club have made big acquisitions by signing Japanese duo, Yukari Yinga and Shinobu Ohno. On top of this, Dutch defender, Anouk Hoogendijk has joined the team along with England’s Casey Stoney and Siobhan Chamberlain. Staying in London and on the blue side of the city, Chelsea have started to take the Super League seriously themselves as they hope to challenge at the top. After Matt Beard left the club following defeat in the FA Cup final to Birmingham, Emma Hayes was appointed as manager. She has managed to bring in Ji So Yun from South Korea who Hayes is very excited about. Along with them, she has managed to convince Katie Chapman and Gilly Flaherty to make the switch from Arsenal. The club are building for the future as the women’s game continues to grow from strength to strength and so Hayes hopes bringing in a mix of youth and experience will help push the club in the right direction.
Also competing in this season’s Super League:
Bristol Academy (2nd last year)
Manchester City Ladies
Notts County Ladies
It all kicks off on the 16th April and 10 more teams will compete in the Women’s Super League 2, the second tier of women’s football.
Post by Richard Waterhouse