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

IT’S BACK! For another cracker season in which another cracker title race will crown another cracker champion.
And also eleven other teams will finish in the other eleven places with one being demoted from the league never to return.

Nah, they can return.

The rest is pretty accurate though.

The one true WSL (we don’t need no surfboards) is ready to knock us dead with its wares once more, and I for one, cannot wait to be front and centre in the kill zone, eager to be entertained, but also, the minor hope that my predictions are correct will be tagging along.

In previous seasons, my scores have gone like this:-

2019/20 — -28
2020/21-14
2021/22-18

So not bad really. The worst I can do is -72, so I think I’m kicking about in the right part of town.

But that means the dream is even closer. Sure, for some leagues double-digits is the desire, but here, single-digits is so close, I could reach out, grab it’s hands and sweep it onto the dancefloor.
And once we’re there… Could a perfect zero be on the cards?

The scoring is determined by the difference between my prediction of where a club will end up and where they actually end up. For example, if I predict Manchester United to finish 5th but they actually finish 8th, that will be -3 off my score with the aim (as seen above) to attain a perfect zero.

Last season, two clubs flummoxed me, one that always does, but I can put them in their place if I don’t let the other have it’s twisted way with me. So…

How is the 22/23 Women’s Super League gonna end?

— —

ARSENAL

They’re a good squad. A smart squad with a smart manager. They’ve streamlined in such a way that has retained their power and given them an x-factor. With this information, I am going to go with my brain, overrule my gut, and predict that they will once again finish as runners-up.
My gut tells me that there’s something missing from this side though. It’s not a whisper, it’s a proud opinion, but not loud enough for me to be able to put my finger on what is missing. They’ve a beating heart, pumping lungs, stomping feet, waving arms, and a calculating brain, but maybe it’s a missing spleen or appendix that’ll see ’em second once more. Or maybe it’s the lack of a boisterous, domineering personality — the lack of necessary evolution of seasons past in spite of their success.
The team that stopped their claiming of the trophy isn’t here anymore, but new hurdles will be imposed.

Prediction: 2nd

ASTON VILLA

10th in their first season in the top flight, 9th in their second… The writing’s on the wall, right? Well, a raid of Everton (with a need to revitalise that trio) brings immense experience to a side in need of it, and that seems to have been Villa’s order of the transfer window. Alongside the likes of Magill and Turner, come Harding and European Champion Daly, already forging a formidable section of the pitch for Carla Ward. It feels like it’s time for Villa to stop playing for the best of the rest and start pushing on, but I reckon goals could still be hard to come by. For satisfaction’s sake, I’ll play along, but by the finale, they’ll have had plenty of chances to build on their finish.

Prediction: 8th

BRIGHTON

When such an exodus occurs, one cannot expect a side to commence in the same manner that came before. Le Tissier, Brazil, Koivisto, Kaagman — all gone, and with the exception of the latter, all gone to direct rivals. The cover brought in is promising, but when you’ve just shed a whole lot of promise, it can be hard to see it as such.
There’s enough talent and excitement there to push on to survival, no doubt. Add in the smarts of Hope Powell, who has had plenty of time to prepare and while it might be touch-and-go at points for The Seagulls, they’ll finish the right side of the line with stand-out performances from the likes of Walsh, Olme, and Lee Geum-min.

Prediction: 9th

CHELSEA

The strengthening they undertake year-on-year, as if it were routine maintenance, is performed in such a way by Emma Hayes and her club that it seems sacrilegious to doubt those that carry it out. There is always a beating heart in this side, not counting the manager, and it’s the bones around that, the ‘fringe’ construction that allows it to beat. Their list of defenders makes it seem as if they will concede no goals, and their selection of forwards spells out a slew at the other end. Add to that the midfield, and unless it was a register of terrapins who’ve never attended a training session in their lives, it’s unlikely to do harm.
Same again this time out and it’s getting hard to predict owt else for the foreseeable.

Prediction: 1st

EVERTON

After their previous season disappointed literally everybody watching as they were unable to perform under three managers, The Toffees have whimpered into this new season as one of the sure-fire relegation favourites. With the attribute of approximately eight minutes of top flight experience under their collective belt, the squad is gonna have to pull out something special under the tutelage of Danish Brian, who has brought some country-people with (including a set of twins, whom he immediately separated), as well as some promise from league rivals. Large presences loom no longer however, and an exodus of seemingly settled players on that scale doesn’t sound the angelic alarm of harmony at the club — though I won’t pretend I know what’s going on.
They’ll survive by virtue of victory in crucial head-to-head games against their fellow drop-battlers.

Prediction: 11th

LEICESTER CITY

Second-season syndrome could hit The Foxes like a tonne of bricks here. I mean, first-season fever wasn’t particularly kind to them. Lydia Bedford has a fine philosophy and is absolutely the best person to be leading the club into this foray; experience has been signed, but it still doesn’t seem enough, and with the little they had to build on last season, it doesn’t seem a structure mighty enough can be fortified in time for, or throughout, the season coming.
They’ll stand proud and display their cunning, but it will be all too fleeting for these foxes.

Prediction: 12th

LIVERPOOL

The Reds have an impressive roster that have settled nicely into a neat squad. With the addition of experience, familiarity, and promise, Matt Beard will bring forth an ultimately confident season on their first foray back in the big time. It’s not gonna go all to plan right off the bat, just as it rarely does for promoted sides, but like Manchester United a few seasons ago, one of the superpowers of the sport will be out to prove that their rightful place is at the top of the game, and this is the beginning of that pudding we will all be eating.

Prediction: 6th

MANCHESTER CITY

It’s been a confusing summer for The Citizens. On the one hand, you could look at their transactions and see that Lucy Bronze, Georgia Stanway, Caroline Weir, and Keira Walsh have all left, on top of Ellen White hanging up her boots.
On the bright side (the other hand), the in-pile doesn’t make for bad reading. Castellanos, Ouahabi, Aleixandri, Hasegawa, and MacIver all fill out a side with a fresh face ready to shake off their various issues from last season and push on towards a title. That will be done this season, in the sense that they will be a lot closer to the action than they were come the end of last, but when it comes to head-to-head with the two titans they’re tussling with, they’ll have a season to figure out who they really are.
It’ll say ‘third’ at season’s end, and that’ll look lower than it is.

Prediction: 3rd

MANCHESTER UNITED

This could’ve been the season they cracked the big three, but they’re not there just yet. Recruitment has been positively monstrous, with raids of league rivals striking gold, and MVP European stars signing on. A mild streamlining presents a side following the formula of the champions, with their own stars being forged alongside world-stage heavyweights and the acquisition of promising youth. I wouldn’t be surprised if they do crack the large trio this time round, but I still think there’s one more season to go before we start talking about a sizable quartet — though the games Skinner’s side are involved in, especially against the three they’re chasing, are sure to be fiery.

Prediction: 4th

READING

I don’t wanna say that I’ve worked Reading out following the seasons of confusion and distress predicting their movements and activity have given me, but I believe I’m closer; I believe this time has not been in vain. This would be a real gift if I am right. A rough start last season was curtailed by a bizarre unbeaten streak spanning eight games (seven wins), promptly followed by no more wins for the rest of the season. A change was needed, and it has come. Kinda. Not really.
With zero departures, Chambers has made excellent use of the free agency, snapping up the experience of Diane Caldwell and former player Becky Jane, as well as Northern Ireland international Jackie Burns, who is joined by her countrywoman Lauren Wade. These signings fuel a squad that is just that, it’s parts. Not the sum of it’s parts, just the parts. They are as good as an individual is on that particular day. And they have very capable individuals. Whether it be Moloney in goal, Cooper (and now Hendrix) at the back, Rose and Vanhaevermat in the middle, or Dowie, Eikeland, or Charlie Wellings (back from an impressive spell North of the border) up front, it will count on the standing of the individual as to whether survival is attained as I believe no higher can be aimed for with such a premise.
Luckily for The Royals, their court is chocka with souls ready to shine.

Prediction: 10th

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

It took me by surprise when Spurs shored up and delivered a top half finish last season. They just clammed up and got all stingy, sacrificing a lot of flash, which is exactly what they needed to do. Those of yester went without so those in the present could have in abundance. Well, maybe not abundance, but more. What they also did was find out what worked for them. A settled defensive line-up will continue to work wonders, I reckon, as the Tottenham team begin to advance forward, in search of the goals that too often eluded them last season. Brazil and Petzelberger have been acquired to aid in the remedy of that, but I’m expecting Jessica Naz to be a particularly predominant port of call; the key to unlocking a consistent ascent up the Women’s Super League.

Prediction: 5th

WEST HAM UNITED

I don’t know how Paul Konchesky’s mind works, no-one does. Not even Paul Konchesky. But he certainly has the best idea, I reckon. But that is why WHU have become the Reading of this season. I think we’re gonna be looking at an unpredictable gremlin of a side, zigging when they should zag and hokeying when they should be cokeying — and they will do so to their triumph, as well as their detriment. I like their signings from fields away, and with departures removed (Flaherty, Svitkova, and Leon specifically), what is left is stern.
The first few games might grind by for the side, but something will click in that locker room, and what emerges from there will be a dangerous beast, to themselves and others.
I hope Dagný Brynjarsdóttir does well.

Prediction: 7th

— —

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

Yeah, all about it.

After a delay due to the passing of a monarch (I tried that excuse to get out of P.E. in school), the Women’s Super League is scheduled to premiere on the 18th September. And I have never been more confident about a set of predictions in my life. I know it’s easier to get single digits on this league due to the lower number of teams, but that won’t stop it tasting sweeter than ice cream and honey licked right off a bunny.

I hope I can get out and catch a game this season. Last season I was half here, half there, and as I’ve looked at games in the second tier and below, the grounds seem so hard to access, and I simply won’t take a bus or learn to drive. It’s trains and reasonable taxi journeys all the way. I’ll see what I can do, or who I can wrangle into coming with me so I can nab a lift.

I’m expecting the competition to be as hot as usual, but for the ground to be like coals underfoot, spurring each and every competitor forward in a flurry akin to the screaming march of progress in the game.

It’s good to see, and I’m talking about the football.

Keep it streets ahead,

C.L.R.

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