It’s a three-horse race between Chelsea, City and Arsenal – and our new signings could give us the edge [WSL Preview]


Héctor goes? Ainsley Maitland-Niles stays? Will we get Houssem Aouar or Thomas Partey? Will we get both? How?

I understand how the transfers are getting everyone excited – or worried – and I sense the anticipation of the next sale or buy, I get it.

I’m more of an actual football guy, though, therefore I’m way more excited by the upcoming start of the FA Women’s Super League, this weekend: what is about to start probably is the most exciting and competitive league ever, with loads of world-class players involved and some of the best coaches around – all in the same place.

Speaking of transfers, I don’t know how many of you have realized the magnitude of some recent arrivals to the WSL, especially since last winter; every Club, top to bottom, has been busy reinforcing their teams with some of the most high-profile players in the world.

At the Arsenal alone, we have 2 of the top-20 players in the world in Vivianne Miedema and Daniëlle van de Donk, according to the list established by the Guardian in 2019; we had 3, before Dutch goalkeeper Sari van Veenendal left for Atlético Madrid, two years ago.


Miedema and DVD (Photo by Kate McShane/Getty Images)

This year the Women’s Super League will boast 4 of the Guardian’s Top-10 footballers, which will be five as soon as Lucy Bronze will confirm her return to England from the title-winning armada Olympique Lyon.

A vast majority of these players either play for Chelsea, for Manchester City or for the Arsenal, therefore there are good chances that the title race will be pulsating until the very end; after the abrupt ending of last season, which saw the league title given to Chelsea on PPG, we’re about to witness an even fiercer battle, with the likes of Everton, Reading and Manchester United trying to close the gap with the top teams.

Oddly, the Arsenal is being considered by many observers an outsider in the title race, with both Chelsea and Manchester City clearly favorite to win it, but I believe that it’s going to be very much a three-horse race, instead: the world-class signings of Sam Kerr (last winter), Pernille Harder, Rose Lavelle, Sam Mewis and the impending arrival of Lucy Bronze surely caught the eye of the press and the supporters, however the Arsenal team still is one of the most versatile and technically gifted in the WSL and is going to be difficult to contain.

The loss to PSG in the UEFA Women’s Champions League confirmed how Joe Montemurro’s side struggles to cope with direct, powerful teams but the way we move the ball around and create high-speed, high-accuracy combinations around the penalty box is often unmatched and virtually impossible to stop for mid- to low-table teams: will it be enough to bring the title back to Meadow Park.

In Steph Catley and Noëlle Martiz we got arguably the best left-back in the world and on the finest right-backs around, exactly what the team needed after asking more attacking-minded players like Katie McCabe and Lisa Evans to adapt to a new role; with Steph Catley and Noëlle Maritz available, Lisa Evans and Katie McCabe will be allowed to play further up on the pitch and add valuable goal-threat to our existing firepower, composed of Vivianne Miedema, Caitilin Foord and Beth Mead – plus Daniëlle van de Donk, Jordan Nobbs and Kim Little from midfield.

A certain manager would say that both Evans and McCabe”are like new signings” but I can’t quite grasp his name…

Most of our chances to succeed will be down to the way Joe Montemurro handles the team and his tactics, especially against the direct rivals: his choices against Chelsea in the 1-4 home defeat raised lots of questions and so did his in-game management during the 1-2 defeat to PSG in the UCWL quarter-finals, therefore the Australian must prove his critics wrong and be the difference in a competitions that is more and more likely to be decided by fine margins.


The race will start on Sunday at Meadow Park, when we will be welcoming back both Danielle Carter and Emma Mitchell, who moved to Reading this summer, and will be a long, intense run.

We are believed not to be as good as Chesea and Manchester City; we are believed to not have the quality or strength to compete with the top dogs; we are believed to be second best to them.

So be it.

Who doesn’t love an underdog, after all?


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