On the weekend of 3-5 September, the Foxes will walk out onto the pitch as a top-flight club for the very first time, following promotion from the FA Women’s Championship as second tier champions.
With the 2021/22 WSL fixtures yet to be announced, LCFC.com analyses four teams Leicester City could come up against on the opening day of the season…
Beth Mead and Jordan Nobbs
England internationals Beth Mead and Jordan Nobbs remain key players for Arsenal.
Last Season: 3rd
Home Venue: Meadow Park, Borehamwood
WSL Titles: 3
Manager: Jonas Eidevall
It has already been a summer of change for the Gunners with the arrival of Swedish manager Jonas Eidevall, replacing the outgoing Joe Montemurro after the Australian’s four largely successful years in charge.
The 2020/21 campaign proved to be one of mixed emotions however as Arsenal pipped Manchester United to the final UEFA Women’s Champions League spot but were well off the pace set by front runners Chelsea and Manchester City.
The north Londoners, still the most successful women’s club in English football, failed to make it out of the Continental Tyres League Cup group stage and were knocked out of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup in the fifth round.
Goal machine Vivanne Miedema once again finished as the club’s top goalscorer in the league (18 goals) and all competitions (25). Only Chelsea’s Australian forward Sam Kerr (21) scored more times in the 2020/21 WSL.
Dutch international Miedema is now joined by former Manchester City and current England forward Nikita Parris, who signed from Lyon earlier this month. Parris is third in the WSL’s all-time goalscoring charts with 49 goals, behind Miedema – who has an incredible 60 goals in 67 top-flight games.
Japan’s attacking midfielder Mana Iwabuchi has also made the move to Arsenal after spending last season on loan with Aston Villa, while captain Leah Williamson and Supporters’ Player of the Season Katie McCabe both recently signed new contracts. Jill Roord, Daniëlle van de Donk, Ruby Mace and Leonie Maier have all departed this summer.
Aston Villa Women
Villa have made a number of exciting signings ahead of the new campaign.
Last Season: 10th
Home Venue: Bescot Stadium, Walsall
WSL Titles: 0
Manager: Carla Ward
Aston Villa’s goalless draw at Arsenal on the final day of the 2020/21 season secured their WSL status for a second season and a new era begins with the appointment of former Birmingham City manager Carla Ward this summer.
Ward, who also kept Villa’s second city rivals in the top division, replaces Marcus Bignot, who took over managerial duties from Gemma Davies in January 2021.
It was a testing first season at the top level for the Midlands club, who had won the 2019/20 FA Women’s Championship title. Ramona Petzelberger top scored with three league goals from midfield, while Shania Hayles and Nadine Hassen both managed four in all competitions.
Bignot won one of his 15 games in charge but masterminded a run of five unbeaten at the end of the season, including back-to-back clean sheets, to avoid an immediate return to the second tier.
They have moved to strengthen their squad with the arrivals of highly regarded England goalkeeper Hannah Hampton and former West Ham United winger Alisha Lehmann.
Meaghan Sargeant, Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah and Sarah Mayling have also all joined from fellow WSL clubs, while Remi Allen made the move to Villa after leaving LCFC Women.
Birmingham City Women
The Blues have a new manager and a new home ground for the 2021/22 season.
Last Season: 11th
Home Venue: St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium
WSL Titles: 0
Manager: Scott Booth
Founding members of the WSL in 2011, Birmingham City competed in their 10th consecutive season at the highest level of English women’s football during 2020/21.
Carla Ward’s one season at the helm ended in survival on the final day, despite losing their final match of the campaign and incurring a one-point deduction.
In fact, City did not win a league fixture from mid-November onwards, with all three of their WSL victories coming away from home, in a four-game period, including a 1-0 success over rivals Aston Villa.
Claudia Walker scored the winner at Villa Park and top scored with five league goals, and eight across all formats, though she is one of several departures announced this summer, signing for West Ham United, while Mollie Green has joined Coventry United.
The cup competitions brought a run to the quarter-finals of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup, a fixture to be played in 2021/22, while the Foxes knocked Birmingham out of the League Cup group stage on penalties.
Now under the guidance of former Glasgow City manager Scott Booth, the Blues will play their home games at St. Andrew’s, alongside their male counterparts, leaving Solihull Moors’ Damson Park, though several of their fixtures had to be played at St. George’s Park during 2020/21.
Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton boast one of the most experienced managers in the women's game, Hope Powell.
Last Season: 6th
Home Venue: The People’s Pension Stadium, Crawley
WSL Titles: 0
Manager: Hope Powell
Brighton enjoyed another mid-table finish under the management of former England head coach Hope Powell in 2020/21, including memorable victories over eventual champions Chelsea and Manchester United.
About to enter her fifth season as Brighton manager, Powell’s experience helped to get the best out of her team.
The club’s third successive top-flight season also brought their highest ever position of sixth, with Netherlands midfielder Inessa Kaagman providing more WSL goals than any other Seagulls player throughout the campaign (8).
The final few months of the season were particularly fruitful for the South Coast club, as they won six of their final nine games, collecting 18 points from a possible 27 to climb up the table and finish strongly.
Although they were unable to qualify from their group in the League Cup, Albion will contest a 2020/21 Vitality Women’s FA Cup last eight tie against Charlton Athletic in September, after defeating Bristol City and Huddersfield Town in previous rounds.
Brighton are likely to have a new-look team in the upcoming season after a host of players departed at the end of their contracts, including Kirsty Barton, Rianna Jarrett, Bethan Roe and Rebekah Stott, while Laura Rafferty and Ellie Hack moved to Southampton and Lewes respectively.
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