From Macario to bigger crowds: five things to look forward to as WSL starts | Moving the Goalposts | OneFootball

Icon: The Guardian

The Guardian

·27 September 2023

From Macario to bigger crowds: five things to look forward to as WSL starts | Moving the Goalposts

Article image:From Macario to bigger crowds: five things to look forward to as WSL starts | Moving the Goalposts

The football never stops, they say, and who can argue? On Sunday the Women’s Super League starts, just over a month since the World Cup final between England and Spain in Sydney. And in between we have had the Nations League and Champions League qualifiers.

There is a real concern about player welfare and managers have been given an almost impossible task to juggle the safety of their squad members with the desire to have the best possible season.

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There is no denying, however, that there is real excitement about the new WSL season. There will be no fewer than 94 World Cup players on show in the English top flight in 2023-24 and all the ingredients are there for the best season yet.

I am hoping for a real battle for the title and Champions League places as well as in the fight to avoid relegation. Also, can teams such as Aston Villa and Everton challenge the established top sides? We are about to find out. In the meantime here are five things to look forward to as the new season is about to kick off.

New signings

There have been some big-name moves during the summer and you can see every single one in this interactive but the one that stood out was Alessia Russo from Manchester United to Arsenal. United responded by signing Japan’s World Cup Golden Boot winner Hinata Miyazawa as well as the Brazilian Geyse from Barcelona.

Chelsea, as always, have renewed with Ashley Lawrence and Catarina Macario arriving in west London, trying to offset the departures of Magda Eriksson and Pernille Harder, who moved together to Bayern Munich.

Other names to look out for are Pauline Bremer, who played for Wolfsburg in last season’s Champions League final, who has joined Brighton, and it will also be interesting to see what Jill Roord can bring to Manchester City.

International success

With so many superstars in the WSL, more international fans are also engaging with the league. The WSL is now broadcast across all five continents, which means new opportunities for the clubs to engage with fans abroad and look into other sources of revenue. It is also a great way to attract more high-profile players.

Games at main stadia

We have seen more and more clubs hosting games in their main stadia over the past couple of seasons and it feels as if that trend will continue this season. In the first round four out of the six games will be hosted in the home team’s main stadium: Arsenal v Liverpool, Aston Villa v Manchester United, Bristol City v Leicester and Chelsea v Tottenham. Bristol City and Leicester, non-Premier League clubs on the men’s side, have committed to hosting all their home games at Ashton Gate and the King Power Stadium.

Article image:From Macario to bigger crowds: five things to look forward to as WSL starts | Moving the Goalposts

Highly engaged crowds

Considering the increased interest in the women’s game and the fact that more games will be hosted in bigger stadia we can expect record-breaking crowds at major games this season. The best attendance so far in the league was last year’s north London derby, where Arsenal beat Tottenham 4-0 in front of 47,367. The Gunners have committed to hosting at least five league games at the Emirates, including this year’s NLD. The Manchester derby between United and City in November will be held at Old Trafford and the club hopes to break the attendance record at the stadium for a women’s game, which is currently at 30,196. Also, new Women’s Super League regulations are hoping to make it easier for away fans to access tickets, to encourage fans to follow their clubs everywhere they go.

Can anyone dethrone Chelsea?

And last, but not least, we have Chelsea. The Blues have won the past four league titles but it feels as if it is getting increasingly tight at the top. Rival clubs have invested more to catch up and it should make for a fascinating title tussle. Chelsea, as mentioned, have made some changes to their squad and will have to rely on Emma Hayes’ managerial magic to finish top again. Manchester United fell just short last season and will push to go all the way this time round while Arsenal and Manchester City will also be in the mix.

Article image:From Macario to bigger crowds: five things to look forward to as WSL starts | Moving the Goalposts

Talking points

Megan Rapinoe says goodbye: The legendary Rapinoe has officially retired from the United States women’s national team. In 17 years with the USWNT she won 203 caps, two World Cups and one Olympic gold and scored 63 goals. Rapinoe is one of the most iconic women’s football players of all time and a trailblazer on and off the pitch. “I’m not going to go away forever. Don’t worry. I’m one of you guys now”, she said after the 2-0 win over South Africa.

South America: Brazil have been crowned the Under-19 Conmebol Liga Evolución champions. The tournament was held in Uruguay and the Canarinhas beat Paraguay 2-0 in the final, with the goals coming from Priscila and Aline Gomes. Brazil won all five games and scored an impressive 23 goals.

This is an extract of our free weekly women’s football email, Moving the Goalposts. To subscribe to the full edition just visit this page and follow the instructions.

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