Women’s Super League team-by-team preview: Champions Chelsea seek back-to-back titles
Ahead of the return of the Women’s Super League this weekend, NewsChain is taking an extensive look at each of the 12 clubs involved.
First up is the reigning champions.
How did they do last season? Champions
The 2019/20 campaign could not have gone much better for the west London club.
They went into the coronavirus lockdown - which ultimately ended up being the end of the season - sitting in second place, one point behind leaders Manchester City, but crucially with a game in hand.
And when it was decided that the season was ending prematurely, the title was awarded to Chelsea on a points-per-game basis.
They remained unbeaten for the entirety of the shortened campaign and so have not lost in the WSL since Birmingham won 3-2 at Kingsmeadow in January 2019.
Manager - Emma Hayes
Chelsea have won three titles in the last five WSL campaigns, a feat Blues boss Emma Hayes can take a great deal of credit for.
Since arriving at the club from Chicago Red Stars way back in 2012, she has built a squad that is consistently challenging at the top of the table.
It is no secret Hayes has one eye on Champions League success, something she is yet to achieve and one she missed out on last season after they failed to qualify for Europe.
Speaking about the Champions League dream, defender Millie Bright said: "It felt like we were missing out and it should be a competition that we should be in with the quality that we’ve got in the squad.
"We never want to be in that position where we miss out on Champions League again so I’m excited for it finally to come around. We want to definitely go on and win the Champions League.
"It’s something that Emma is passionate about and us as players, we are at that level now where we want to go and push on and win it."
Key Player - Sam Kerr
Many will point to Beth England as the key component of Chelsea’s team and in many ways that is correct.
She netted 14 times in the WSL last season, finished joint-top scorer alongside Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema and picked up the Player of the Season award.
But given they won the title last season, Hayes will be looking at areas where her side can improve and January signing Sam Kerr is certainly one who could add another facet to Chelsea’s blistering attack.
The Australian proved in her home country and the US that she is one of the very best finishers in the world.
She only managed one goal in seven games before the pandemic struck in early 2020 and had a nightmare in the Community Shield last weekend.
But if she can get her eye in early on at the start of her first full campaign in England, she could well separate the Blues from the rest of their rivals.
New signings and departures
Midfielders: Melanie Leupolz (Bayern Munich), Jessie Fleming (UCLA Bruins)
Forwards: Niamh Charles (Liverpool)
Defenders: Anita Asante (Aston Villa), Deanna Cooper (Reading)
Midfielders: Ramona Bachmann (Paris Saint-Germain)
Forwards: Adelina Engman (Montpellier)
What will they be aiming for this season?
Put simply, another league title.
No team has retained the Women’s Super League since Liverpool back in 2014, so that will be a strong motivator for Chelsea.
Chelsea open their campaign away at Manchester United on Sunday.
Last season, a Maren Mjelde penalty proved decisive as Hayes’ side saw off the Red Devils in a closely fought encounter.