Women's Super League 2021/22 (and other women's football)

The Women’s Super League begins this weekend, kicking off tonight actually with Man United against Reading. I think this might be a bit of a landmark season for women’s football in England; Sky agreed an £8m per-season deal with the FA to broadcast it, so I think we’ll see a lot more media attention directed towards it.

Which is good, because it’s a good league that’s usually tight at the top, with 3 established teams in Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal, and one emerging team in United. There are also teams who are increasing their funding and commitment to their women’s team; the Spurs team is only a couple years old and doing okay, Leicester got promoted last season so will be interesting to see what they do, and Everton have been steadily improving.

Last season saw Chelsea win by 2 points from City, on the basis of a ridiculously top-loaded attach featuring Sam Kerr, Fran Kirby, Penille Harder and Beth England (all basically world-class), which was somehow made to fit together by their manager Emma Hayes, who’s one of the best in the game by all accounts.

Man City on the other hand lacked quality at the top of the pitch, but had it elsewhere. They brought Lucy Bronze back from Lyon (who are basically the Real Madrid of women’s football, except even more successful and much less awful). Bronze is a right-back who women the FIFA women’s best player in 2020. In midfield they’ve got class players like Jill Scott and Caroline Weir, and have added to that with former Barca captain Vicky Losada who’s technically brilliant. This summer they’ve added Khadija Shaw up front, who they’ll hope can be their answer to the goalscoring power of Chelsea and Arsenal.

Arsenal themselves had a poor year last year, finishing 9 points behind Chelsea in third. The coach, Joe Montemurro who brought the title back to Arsenal two years prior, resigned on good terms to allow for some renewal in a team that had become a bit tactically stale in the big games. The new coach Jonas Eidevall emphasises counter-pressing much more, which should suit our style better.

I feel like Arsenal have strengthened hugely this summer. We’ve lost fan favourite Danielle Van de Donk to Lyon and Jill Roord to Wolfsburg among one or two others, but have more than made up for that. We signed Nikita Parris from Lyon, who I believe is the WSL’s second top scorer after current Arsenal no. 11 Vivianne Miedema. Japanese midfielder Mana Iwabuchi was signed from Villa, who’s an incredibly technically gifted, intelligent diminutive player with end product, possibly the signing of the summer. Last summer we were a lacking in midfield intensity and we looked to have rectified that with the signing of Frida Maanum, who looks at the moment like she can do everything you’d want a midfielder to do. And just today we’ve signed Tobin Heath, who’s a bonafide superstar in women’s football.

This is to fit into an existing team that already has more quality than they showed last seasons. Vivianne Miedema is one of if not the best player in the world, just a ridiculous goalscorer who’s also equally good at creating – think Van Persie (her childhood idol). Kim Little is my favourite player, another diminutive midfielder who has already proved a hell of a lot of fun to watch alongside Iwabuchi.

I have a feeling this year might be Arsenal’s, but maybe that’s just bias talking. I don’t really know what Chelsea have done to strengthen in this window tbh, and they were very good last season, so maybe they’ll go up another level and we won’t be able to touch them. Either way I expect some spectacular performances from both teams, with City maybe a bit behind. I have to say I don’t know much about the teams below – I’ve only picked up bits about City and Chelsea because they’re the ones we’re competing with. Any input about the others would be good!

For those of you wondering about how to catch the football and thinking that you’re interested now, but that your interest will wane due to lack of information and discussion about it, hopefully this thread can help but if not Sky Sports should have you covered. There are also plenty of people now on Twitter who are dedicated to covering women’s football. I’d advise giving these accounts a follow, please let me know of any good accounts you follow that aren’t included here:

https://twitter.com/KiersTheivam

https://twitter.com/BarclaysFAWSL

https://twitter.com/SuzyWrack

https://twitter.com/KatieWhyatt

https://twitter.com/RichJLaverty

https://twitter.com/GirlsontheBall

https://twitter.com/KellySimmo1

https://twitter.com/M0lly_Writes

https://twitter.com/SkySportsWSL

Tim Stillman tweets a lot about Arsenal men but also does very good coverage on Arsenal women:
https://twitter.com/Stillberto

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Fixtures for gameweek 1:

Man United vs Reading
Villa vs Leicester
Everton vs Man City
Spurs vs Birmingham
Arsenal vs Chelsea
Brighton vs West Ham

Miedema and Parris is an exciting prospect. Any Arsenal fan not following the women’s team would be well advised to get involved, this season especially.

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Yeah exactly my thoughts. Obviously Arsenal women have historically been dominant (and thus more successful than the men’s team) but these days the quality in the women’s game is so high that you can really tell you’re watching an elite team, which makes a nice change…

This is why I prefer women’s tennis to men’s and watch more of it. football’s a bit different as fan culture is such a huge part of football but I would probs feel the same if I got properly into it.

The few WSL and WCL games I watched last season were really good, aesthetically pleasing attacking football without the boring pressing and tactical fouling you get in men’s football. Found it hard to care about a Chelsea - Man City title race though but that’s partly due to my hangups about the men’s teams, should just get over it guess

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West ham women seem to have adopted the men’s team traditional persona of being wildly unreliable whilst being mainly rubbish and suffering heavy defeats. Glad to see that sullivan’s son isn’t involved any more though as it felt incredibly insulting that he’d essentially been given the women’s team as a play thing.

We’ve signed a Japanese international midfielder, Yui Hasegawa, so hopefully she’s good. Also a big fan of Dagny Brynjarsdottir, who despite being Icelandic has inexplicably been a West ham fan since she was a kid.

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Has the men’s team’s recruitment got better recently through luck, or has there been some sort of professionalisation going on in the background? Any chance of that rubbing off on the women?

That’s mainly moyes I think, but the coach the women’s team appointed in January (Oli Harder) seems a lot better than the last guy who I got a bit of a creepy vibe off.

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My dad is really into women’s football and had a season ticket at Arsenal before all this covid chaos. So I know a little bit about it from him chewing my ear off constantly, but I haven’t got fully invested in watching anything beyond the highlights yet. I’ve always kept an eye out for their results going back many years. Might try and watch a few games this season, although I have already wasted and continue to waste a fairly huge slice of my life watching, thinking about, reading about and playing football.

Good thread :+1: Hoping to watch a bit more of the WSL this year. I have managed to catch a few of the more marquee games in the last two seasons, and followed pretty much all of Chelsea’s run to the CL final last year, but have always struggled to keep up due to the lack of coverage. I initially found the concept of just latching onto Chelsea, purely on account of supporting the men’s team, a bit strange, but Emma Hayes, Fran Kirby, Sam Kerr, Ann Katrin Berger, Ji So-Yun, Magdalena Eriksen and Pernille Harder quickly made it easy to support them fully and I no longer feel like an imposter fan. Helps that they are such a talented team I guess.

Good preview on the Chelsea side of things:

Would recommend listening to Stadio if you don’t already (it’s the only football podcast I listen to nowadays and is way clear of Football Weekly et al imo). It’s probably more focused on the men’s game but they cover a lot of the WSL and women’s football across Europe too. It’s good for hearing what’s going on in the French, German and Spanish leagues. Wrighty’s House, a spin off from Stadio with Ian Wright, is also great and sometimes covers WSL, but is again more focused on the UK men’s game.

https://twitter.com/mnaz98?s=21 - Maryam Naz; is great on women’s football generally, but also does a lot of Chelsea specific stuff
https://twitter.com/not_carlisle?s=21 - more Chelsea focused
https://twitter.com/floydtweet?s=21 - freelance writer, also part of Wrighty’s House
https://twitter.com/em_sandy?s=21 - BBC WSL correspondent

Do we know if there’s a highlight show or MOTD equivalent for the WSL?

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That preview is great, thanks. I feel like we’ll be closer to Chelsea than people seem to think but I guess Sunday will be a test of that. Speaking of which:

Kinda wonder if they’re under-reporting on purpose so that more people will get tickets, cos to me the stadium (lower part) looks pretty booked when I look online except for a few sections. Either way it’s on general sale and it’s £14 a ticket so if you’re in London I’d highly recommend it, should be one of the games of the season:
https://t.co/ZOj7OZOCvF?amp=1

Don’t listen to Stadio but maybe I will. Generally not a podcast fan, I only listen to one (an Arsenal-specific one) and even then I skip through half of it.

Apparently the BBC have the Women’s Football Show on Sunday at 9, I think that does highlights:

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This was to everybody btw, not specifically @coolerthantv

Thanks - going to record that BBC show so I can keep up.

I saw the same tweet about the Arsenal vs Chelsea game and was surprised at only 7k. I would absolutely love to go but have a ticket to the cricket on Sunday (if it makes it to Sunday!) Agreed it should be an amazing game. I think Arsenal are very well equipped to win the league this year. The only thing holding you back is probably all the new signings and the new manager having to bed in. Although Chelsea haven’t strengthened hugely, the familiarity of Hayes, Kerr and Kirby, and hopefully an improved second season Pernille Harder, should give us a slight advantage.

Don’t want to derail the thread with too much podcast chat, but would really recommend it. My enjoyment of football has increased since I started listening to it last season, mostly as the hosts (Musa Okwonga and Ryan Hunn) are excellent. They have a generally positive outlook about the good things in football (great teams, coaches players, games etc.) without compromising on criticism of the shit stuff (the insane amounts of money, the racism and bigotry, the Super League etc.) I also like how they don’t just treat the women’s game as an afterthought, it’s an integral part of the show. The Ian Wright one is a lot less football nerdy, but I still like it as I bloody love Ian Wright tbh.

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Okay will follow them then!

Not WSL, and already posted in the Scottish Football thread, but what a goal!!

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Oof, Bergamp-esque

(any women’s football welcome in the thread)

Got the United vs Reading game on in the background. United’s up 2-0. Really interested to see how United fairs this season after losing their manager and a few key players. Don’t imagine they’ll challenge the top three but should be the best of the rest again.

A bit gutted Heath has gone as she’s just an awesome human. Injuries meant she couldn’t really settle into that side last year so not surprised she’s moved. Scored a belter vs City in the derby.

For those that don’t have a Sky Sports package, I think a lot of the games they’re showing will also be on what was Sky 1 and has been rebranded as Sky Showcase.

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finish!

(on BBC 1 btw)