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Women's Super League: How did each club do this season?

Shelina Zadorsky, Sam Kerr, Noelle Maritz and Louise Quinn
Shelina Zadorsky, Sam Kerr, Noelle Maritz and Louise Quinn have all played key roles for their clubs this season

One of the most exciting campaigns in Women’s Super League history saw Chelsea claim the title on the final day, both Manchester clubs battle it out for Champions League qualification and relegation for one of the league’s founding members.

But final league positions don’t tell the full story, so how did each club fare across the season?

Chelsea – 1st (champions)

Another huge success for Chelsea as they wrapped up their third successive WSL title and a fifth in six seasons. They battled with Covid, injuries and a heavy fixtures schedule to clinch it on the final day in dramatic fashion – coming from behind twice to beat Manchester United. There has been no sign of their dominance slowing down either.

Arsenal – 2nd

Having led the title race for so long after an impressive start to the season, Arsenal will be hugely disappointed to miss out by just a point on the final day. But in the context of it being Jonas Eidevall’s first season in charge, there was plenty to suggest Arsenal can challenge for silverware going forward despite ending a third successive year trophyless. Arsenal must act in the summer though and if Vivianne Miedema leaves, there will be a huge gap to fill.

Manchester City – 3rd

It was a poor start for City when they failed to qualify for the Champions League group stages and extensive injuries played a part in a four-game winless streak in the WSL, where they dropped to ninth in the table.

But since the turn of the year they have been in terrific form – going on a 13-match winning run in all competitions, which has seen them win the League Cup and book their place in the FA Cup final. Securing third spot also ensures they will have European football in 2022-23, which must be seen as a success given their worrying start.

Manchester United – 4th

Manchester United and Manchester City competing against each other
Both Manchester clubs were still in with a chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League on the final day

Missing out on Champions League qualification to their rivals was a blow, but Manchester United have consolidated their position as the fourth-best team in the WSL for a second successive season in just their third year in the top flight.

Their overall points tally was five fewer than last season’s and they only picked up two points from a possible 18 against the top three sides in the league. A lack of experience, ruthlessness and too many draws proved costly but United showed lots of potential.

Manager Marc Skinner, completing his first season in charge, has vowed to strengthen in the transfer window and that is absolutely crucial if they are to close the gap on the top three.

Tottenham – 5th

It’s been a terrific season for Spurs, who finish fifth, their highest position in the WSL after three campaigns in the top tier. They were still challenging for a European qualification spot in the new year but a seven-game winless run in the second half of the season – which coincided with some key injury losses – saw them drop down the table.

West Ham – 6th

Olli Harder’s first full season in charge was fairly solid as the Hammers finished mid-table, but they will embark on the next year without the New Zealand coach after announcing Paul Konchesky as the new boss. Inconsistency cost them a higher-placed finish but the Hammers were still able to take points off Manchester United, Tottenham and Manchester City and finish with their highest-ever points tally in the WSL. They need to add depth to the squad to compete next season.

Brighton – 7th

Brighton invested heavily off the pitch in the summer and would have liked to see this reflected in a top-half finish. After a strong start to the season, their performances worsened and Hope Powell called for more consistency. That is still lacking – defeats by Birmingham, Leicester, Reading and Aston Villa have shown that. With teams around them also starting to show more ambition, Brighton need to make further strides next season.

Reading – 8th

Once again, Kelly Chambers’ side have been able to compete for a mid-table spot despite several players leaving in the summer and limited funds in the transfer window. It took them five games to pick up their first win but an undefeated spell between October and February – which included a shock victory over Chelsea – saw them race up the table. They have shown signs of progression and will hope to keep the core of the squad together to push further next season.

Aston Villa – 9th

Anita Asante
Anita Asante retired this season and was given a guard of honour in her final two appearances against former club Arsenal and rivals Birmingham City

Aston Villa have shown glimpses of improvement this season under Carla Ward but their home form has been extremely poor. Just one win in 11 matches at home – and a final day defeat by relegated rivals Birmingham City at Villa Park – stopped them challenging the mid-table teams. However, having only secured WSL safety on the final day of last season, and their overall points tally being six higher this year, they are making steady progress.

Everton – 10th

It’s been a hugely disappointing season for Everton, who had hoped to challenge the top three after investment in the summer. Poor results and two managerial sackings meant they finished in 10th. They must improve under new boss Brian Sorensen, who will take charge of Everton in the summer, but the Toffees have gone backwards this season after spending money and have work to do to catch up.

Leicester City – 11th

Leicester survived their first season in the WSL so achieved what they set out to do. They struggled initially which led to the departure of manager Jonathan Morgan but since Lydia Bedford’s arrival they have shown progress, including crucial wins over rivals Birmingham City. They will face much tougher competition to stay up next season, though, with Liverpool returning to the WSL. It will be a crucial transfer window in the summer.

Birmingham City – 12th (relegated)

Birmingham City were favourites to go down and despite putting up a late fight, as well as securing an unlikely victory over Arsenal in January, they could not avoid the drop. A lack of investment from the club over several seasons and three managerial changes in 12 months has ultimately proven costly. They need to re-group quickly as the Championship is a tough league to escape with only one promotion spot up for grabs.

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