Ladies football has been on the rise for the last few years, but 2017 has seen the Women’s Super League finally realise its own lofty aspirations.
An influx of money has led to a hotbed of competition, as the big clubs of Manchester City and Chelsea have injected large amounts of money into the veins of their teams. This has given both sides the opportunity to attract the best of talent from Europe and the US – and fans are enjoying the multiple benefits.
With City and Chelsea asserting their financial dominance over the WSL, it has left Arsenal Ladies and Liverpool with much work to do. They have responded and all four sides now represent excellent bases for the cream of female football to join.
The WSL Spring Series was just a small taste of what to expect from next season, as Chelsea edged out City on goal difference to clinch the title. The third placed Gunners were just a point behind after ending the season undefeated, and Liverpool were not far behind in fourth. It sets up a mouthwatering 2017/18 WSL season – and there will be a raft of big players on display.
All the talk during the Spring Series was centred on USA superstar Carli Lloyd joining City, and she did not disappoint. Perhaps the biggest name in women’s football, Lloyd scored for City as they won the FA Cup, and City enjoyed bigger crowds as well as larger firepower on the pitch.
It wasn’t just City who had added quality to their ranks.
Arsenal snapped up Dutch star Vivianne Mediema and Lisa Evans from FC Bayern, as well as Kim Little rejoining from the USA. With Heather O’Reilly, Jordan Nobbs and Danielle Van De Donk in midfield and England striker Danielle Carter up top, Arsenal Ladies will be in with a real shout for the top honours.
Chelsea have a wealth of talent, and the Champions can boast the likes of Crystal Dunn from across the pond, as well as England hotshots Eni Aluko and Fran Kirby. They will surely be contenders to keep their hands on the WSL title.
What is evident when the squads of these teams are pored over, is that there is international class peppered in every position – and the powerhouse countries of Germany, France, Netherlands and the US are heavily represented.
So which team looks strongest for next season’s WSL, which begins in September?
There is little to separate Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea, and the Spring Series was proof of this. With Liverpool Ladies closing the gap on the Big Three thanks to heavy investment, 2017/18 looks to be the most hotly contested league campaign since Ladies Football began. With TV coverage increasing as demand rises, the revolution will indeed be televised.
The WSL has certainly enjoyed an effective revamp and with resources improving with every season, the top talents can all be lured away from their native lands. The many full-time professional clubs available in England mean that these women can realise their dream of making a career from their profession.
Women’s football is in the spotlight and rightfully so. The standard is high and is on the rise all the time, but what makes the WSL even better than its last incarnation is how unpredictable it is. Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal all have valid shouts for glory, and the fireworks when these teams meet will make great viewing.
BT Sport will be showing all the thrills and spills, and the recent Euro2017 tournament has highlighted the plethora of shining talents we can look forward to seeing.
Every new season in the WSL brings with it new faces and more skill on the pitch. As England Ladies are also benefitting from the influx of superstars via training, the future looks bright for Ladies Football in England.