How Did It End? — Women’s Super League 22/23

C.L.R.
8 min readJun 13, 2023

The twists and turns of the Women’s Super League are something to behold. Amidst a period of rapid progression in the league and the game, the drama ramps up right alongside it.
Over the past few seasons I have attempted to predict this glorious chaos with the following results:-

2019/20 — -28
2020/21-14
2021/22-18

So I know what to beat. And what not to beat. The worst I can do is -72, so I’ve been doing alright and that MUST BE MAINTAINED.

This is what I predicted:-

1. Chelsea
2. Arsenal
3. Manchester City
4. Manchester United
5. Tottenham Hotspur
6. Liverpool
7. West Ham United
8. Aston Villa
9. Brighton
10. Reading
11. Everton
12. Leicester City

And this is how it actually ended up:-

1. Chelsea
2. Manchester United
3. Arsenal
4. Manchester City
5. Aston Villa
6. Everton
7. Liverpool
8. West Ham United
9. Tottenham Hotspur
10. Leicester City
11. Brighton
12. Reading

In keeping with the rest of my predictions for this season across English football, I didn’t take enough risks, and I can already tell that this will not be an elite score. My only hope is that I don’t sully my record of (at least) semi-decent scores so far.

To do that, I of course need to get to as close to a perfect 0 as possible. My score is calculated by the difference between my prediction and the actual finishes, for example, if I had Reading finishing 3rd and they end up finishing 6th, that would be -3 off my score. EASY.

So just how did the 2022/23 Women’s Super League season end?

ARSENAL

Predicted: 2nd / Actual: 3rd
Injury after injury after injury after injury… After injury? There seemed to be a general consensus through the season that The Gunners’ goose was cooked, and while it’s no surprise that those who remained unfelled stepped up to really compete, the gaps that were left ultimately told. That, and being outmanoeuvred and outmuscled by Chelsea and Manchester United when it mattered — simply put, when the heat was on, they got burned.

Score: -1

ASTON VILLA

Predicted: 8th / Actual: 5th
Well, well, well, if it ain’t the team of the season! Yessir, Carla Ward’s Villans just kept on truckin’, powering through the competition before reinforcing in January and powering on. And that January transfer window was the best going with Nobbs and Staniforth coming in to support surreal starlet Dali and super striker Big RD. But they shone on all fronts; every few seasons it seems as if one side is ready to kick on and join the elite. Manchester United have been the most recent side, and on this evidence, Villa look like the next — something that will only continue to bolster this league.

Score: -3

BRIGHTON

Predicted: 9th / Actual: 11th
A risky managerial appointment looked set to scupper things, with the reality being that Jens Scheuer was inserted at a pivotal pressure point and needed to get the squad shifted to his ideals almost immediately. That didn’t happen and suddenly, The Seagulls looked for the birds. Enter Amy Merricks, and a bit later, Melissa Phillips. The former earns massive credit for managing the equivalent of a common denominator, a method in the middle, and going to town with it. Emphasis on strong, agile wing-play from the impressive Katie Robinson fuelled an engine that started focusing on what they needed to do, what every football team needs to do at one point or another, score. In the combined eight games that Hope Powell and Jens Scheuer took charge of, Brighton managed just five goals, conceding twenty-nine. In Merrick’s seven games, despite managing just as many points as Powell and Scheuer, her side scored thirteen times, conceding twenty-one. Her style told, and it was what Phillips would inherit to almost double Brighton’s tally and assure survival.

Score: -2

CHELSEA

Predicted: 1st / Actual: 1st
The best display of Chelsea’s power is the canter at which they ended up taking this league. With the Champion’s League taking up a large chunk of their attention and time, as soon as that became a non-factor, the disappointment did not spill onto the pitch as they roared back to beat Liverpool, Everton, and Leicester in the space of a week by an aggregate score of 15–1. Four days later, they would lift the FA Cup before going the last three league games with sheets as shiny as the trophy those three victories earned ’em. Astute tactical destruction of their nearest rivals may have sealed that difference in points, but every point ended up counting.

Score: 0

EVERTON

Predicted: 11th / Actual: 6th
After these past two seasons, the phrase ‘jumping ship’ came to mind when pondering Everton. But Big Brian Sørensen came in, grabbed the wheel, and steading the squad to safety and then some. The Toffees felt like a team again, and they all seemed to thrive on fresh responsibilities, namely Gabby George, but Park, Holmgaard, Brosnan, and Bennison stepped up too (to name just five). The unity is back and long may it reign. With Villa leading the charge for the next spot up top, Everton are pushing on to be the next there.

Score: -5

LEICESTER CITY

Predicted: 12th / Actual: 10th
I’ve already given Villa the award for best January transfer window, but Leicester come close to bettering it with the loan signing of Janina Leitzig alone. Add in Ruby Mace, Remy Siemsen, and Courtney Nevin, and the argument becomes far more compelling, with all four instrumental in The Foxes’ miraculous survival. Initially, I thought the departure of Lydia Bedford seemed short-sighted and would destroy the remaining morale of the side, but Willie Kirk has brought a mentality in that’s done the job, taking a side pointless after nine games, with three points from the season’s first half, to thirteen from the second, and vitally, survival.

Score: -2

LIVERPOOL

Predicted: 6th / Actual: 7th
Yeah, I’d take that. As a promoted side playing in a league that sorts the elite wheat from the naff chaff (only used for the purpose of the rhyme), I’d be happy with that. Matt Beard is, and has been, developing a cult core at this club — players who want to play for The Reds — Missy Bo Kearns, Ceri Holland, Taylor Hinds (who, along with Emma Koivisto, forge one of the most formidable wing-back partnerships in the land). The future’s bright, even if that just means clear of danger.

Score: -1

MANCHESTER CITY

Predicted: 3rd / Actual: 4th
Ultimately disappointing. To be the bottom of the elite group, missing out on Europe, and with arguably the most dazzlingly disarming strike force in the league — a trio just crying out for a squad name — Hemp, Kelly, and Shaw. And it ain’t like the rest of the squad is letting ’em down. It does just show the competition atop this league; despite a rough start, The Citizens amassed a fourteen-game undefeated streak, including victory over the eventual champions, but only needed one defeat from each rival to see ’em ultimately, disappointingly, finish behind ‘em.

Score: -1

MANCHESTER UNITED

Predicted: 4th / Actual: 2nd
I did not think it would be this season, but so often they put in the performances of champions, pushing on for that extra stretch that turned one point into three. Not that they weren’t clicking already, but each member of the squad has graduated to all-star status and the only fear moving forward will be keeping hold of them. To come so close and miss out on the final day, the pain will be raw, but the task is clear: two points off the title, two defeats all season — beat Chelsea, win the league.

Score: -2

READING

Predicted: 10th / Actual: 12th
When I started watching the Women’s Super League, The Royals were incredibly difficult to place, most of the time ending up halfway between hell and nowhere. But from last season, hell has seemed a heck of a lot closer. So often they just couldn’t compete and occasionally looked as if they didn’t know how to do so; offence was uninspired and defence directionless. They would have simply needed a rival side to play worse, but they weren’t lucky enough. Reading need their character and their groove back, and with the shift to part-time coming post-relegation, the hope is simply that it is not lost forever.

Score: -2

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Predicted: 5th / Actual: 9th
A spine is developing, but it is taking it’s time. Neville was truckin’, the pair of ‘keepers joined in, Spence rocked up, the likes of Bizet, Ayane, and Summanen started to kick on, but it was another January signing singing the harmony, and that was jolly old Beth England. Feed her, and apparently, she will score. But a one-woman team cannot stand, and the rest of the Spurs squad need to tap into England’s example of consistency because this should be a team troubling the top instead of scrapping at the wrong end.

Score: -4

WEST HAM UNITED

Predicted: 7th / Actual: 8th
A solid start eventually proved to be their salvation as they won half of their opening ten, with impressive individual displays across the board. The second half of the season delivered only one win however, and six points from a possibly thirty-three — relegation form. The team fell into disarray and too often looked lost, ragged. A look that would sadly cost Paul Konchesky his job come season’s end. Some tactical identity may need to be instilled by whoever is inserted because you can only get so lost before you lose it all.

Score: -1

Another classic, quality, controlled season in the books. Off the bat, sure, there are advancements to be made that seem unquestionably necessary, but let’s have a wee focus on the positives, eh?
The quality on every front takes a boost season on season, and therefore, so does the competition. It is fantastically thrilling and at the pinnacle along with many others in terms of action, and along with those others, will advance to raise that pinnacle on the stage of world football.

Stars are beginning to shine and legends forged in this modern day, and if the ultimate pinnacle is never found, may a constant rise be on the cards.
Cheers to all involved for this outing, whenever they managed to make it out.

TO BUSINESS.
What, pray tell, was my final score this season?

-24

Right in amongst my other scores — on the low end, but at least it stays in the range.

MY BIGGEST WINNERS: Chelsea — 0, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, West Ham — -1
MY BIGGEST LOSERS: Everton — -5, Tottenham — -4, Aston Villa — -3

Next season lies just around the corner, and with this pyramid starting to take shape, the tippity-top is basking in the glow of a warm sun. I’ll see you up there.

Keep it streets ahead,

C.L.R.

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