WSL: New signings and outdated rivalries as girls’s high flight returns after winter break

Tottenham confronted Everton on 14 December within the closing WSL match of 2022

When Aston Villa and Tottenham stroll out on the Bescot Stadium on Saturday lunchtime, it is going to be precisely a month for the reason that final motion within the Ladies’s Tremendous League.

The winter break has now come to an finish, and all 12 groups shall be in motion this weekend.

Among the many video games this weekend is a colossal conflict between Arsenal and Chelsea, the league’s high two, whereas the race for Europe and the battle to keep away from the drop are additionally heating up.

Because of the Lionesses’ Euros triumph, 2022 was a historic, game-changing yr for ladies’s soccer in England. The query now’s the place the sport goes in 2023.

After this weekend, each workforce within the WSL could have performed at the least half their fixtures – so the place can we stand?

The most important sport in Europe?

Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall and Chelsea boss Emma Hayes
Arsenal supervisor Jonas Eidevall and Chelsea boss Emma Hayes will face off on Sunday

Sunday, excessive midday. Arsenal and Chelsea meet at Emirates Stadium in a match which is Arguably the largest home conflict in European girls’s soccer.

Whereas Lyon in France and Barcelona in Spain may declare to be larger and higher groups – the current roll of honor within the Ladies’s Champions League suggests so – none of them have a home rivalry to match that between these London golf equipment.

Each had been spectacular in qualifying from their Champions League teams, each have misplaced just one league sport this season, and they’re the 2 high scorers within the WSL.

“It is the following sport so it is a very powerful one,” mentioned Arsenal supervisor Jonas Eidevall. “We’ve performed some thrilling video games in opposition to Chelsea, we’ve the privilege to play on the Emirates, it is going to be an excellent event.”

Is Man Utd v Liverpool a rivalry?

For the primary time since September 2019, Manchester United will play Liverpool within the WSL this weekend.

The ladies’s sport doesn’t have the identical historical past as the lads’s match, with Liverpool solely returning to the WSL this season following relegation in 2020 – however is a rivalry rising between these groups?

Their two managers have opposing viewpoints.

United’s Marc Skinner mentioned on Wednesday: “I hope that it rivals the lads’s fixture going ahead. This might be an enormous fixture, the extra expertise you have got in opposition to one another builds historical past.

“Liverpool are a extremely good workforce, and going ahead I believe it is going to be like the lads’s rivalry. Our job is to place within the performances to take care of the requirements of this sport.

He added: “It would take time to construct the historical past the lads’s sport has, however Liverpool shall be taking part in with the identical depth as us.”

Liverpool boss Matt Beard, nonetheless, appeared to minimize the importance of the sport.

“I noticed Mark’s feedback which shocked me a bit, it is simply one other sport,” he mentioned on Friday. “We simply wish to consider ourselves, not on a rivalry.”

New signings gallery

bethany england
Bethany England turned the costliest switch between two WSL sides in December

Can Remy Siemsen fireplace Leicester Metropolis – with two objectives and 0 factors this season – to a exceptional escape from relegation?

What is going to the expertise of Jordan Nobbs and Lucy Staniforth add to the Aston Villa midfield?

Is Gemma Bonner’s return the catalyst Liverpool must push up the league, or will the creativity of younger Sofie Lundgaard in midfield be the issue?

Most notably, will Bethany England – signed by Tottenham from Chelsea for £250,000, a document switch payment between two WSL golf equipment – stay as much as the hefty price ticket?

One sport this weekend is not going to reply all these questions – however it may give us an early indicator, and followers shall be ready with baited breath to see their new heroes in motion.

Spurs aiming to finish droop

Whereas some golf equipment had been left kicking their heels by a month off, Tottenham would have been glad to place the top of 2022 behind them after slumping to 4 successive WSL defeats.

They had been overwhelmed 3-0 at dwelling by Everton on December 14, the ultimate WSL sport earlier than Christmas, in what was a worrying coda to the calendar yr for Rehanne Skinner’s aspect.

So as to add to Skinner’s issues, they are going to be with out key participant Ashleigh Neville in opposition to Villa, after she was despatched off in opposition to Everton.

“We had been prepared for the break, loads of gamers have performed soccer over the summer time,” Skinner mentioned. “They’ve come again refreshed and able to go.

“Issues have not gone how we wished, however I am happy with how we have educated, constructing momentum for second half of the season.

“You aren’t getting to the highest of the league in a single day, we’re practical that it takes golf equipment time to get to that time. We’ve added high quality to the workforce, it hasn’t gelled as we might like however we’ve to place in effort and time.With time you get high quality and constant performances.

“We let ourselves down within the first a part of a number of video games, we’ve bought to be extra resilient when the sport begins, hold ourselves in video games for longer. A few of our possession soccer was excellent and we could not reap the rewards.”

Is the winter break irritating or a lot wanted?

Going a month with out aggressive motion over Christmas drew differing reactions from coaches previously week, with some saying they had been kicking their heels ready for a return.

Others felt a break after a protracted yr, which included many gamers in large tournaments such because the Euros over the summer time, was hardly wanted.

West Ham supervisor Paul Konchesky, talking earlier than their assembly with Manchester Metropolis on Sunday night, mentioned: “It seems like a very long time off, it has been itchy ft, I’ve by no means had so lengthy off.

“To be sincere, the break has been too lengthy, I’d have favored to have performed within the week simply gone to get us in earlier. However typically relaxation is finest, giving the women household time, now we’ve loads of video games. The gamers are regenerated.”

In distinction, Eidevall mentioned: “I actually suppose we had been knackered, everybody was wanting ahead to the break a lot.

“We final performed 22 December, we’re again 15 January, that is three weeks off. That is smart, you want per week completely off soccer then two weeks coming again to organize for this sport.

“If we stored pushing we might have paid the worth ultimately.”

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