The Women’s Super League is back and it could be the biggest and most exciting season yet.
With a new broadcast deal in place – allowing matches to be shown live on BBC and Sky TV – there will be more eyes on the WSL than ever before.
It is expected to attract record audience figures and become one of the most watched women’s sport leagues in the world.
|BBC to show 22 WSL matches starting with Everton v Manchester City on Saturday at 13:15 BST on BBC One, iPlayer and BBC Sport website|
|On Sunday live commentary of Arsenal v Chelsea (12:30) on BBC Radio 5 Live & Brighton v West Ham (14:00) on the BBC Sport website and app|
|Weekend highlights on The Women’s Football Show on Sunday on BBC One at 22:30|
|More on BBC’s WSL coverage|
Throw into the mix the return of fans in stadiums, a potentially blockbuster title race, new managers and a number of international stars – it is a campaign you do not want to miss.
On Saturday, Everton v Manchester City will be shown on BBC One, iPlayer and the BBC Sport website at 13:15 BST, becoming the first ever domestic women’s league game shown on network free-to-air television.
It will be one of 22 live WSL matches on the BBC this season.
Can anyone close the gap?
The biggest question is whether anyone can beat Chelsea, who retained their title last season, as well as reaching the Champions League final for the first time.
Emma Hayes’ side lost just one game, but were taken all the way to the final day as Manchester City remained hot on their heels.
A two-point gap was all that separated the rivals and it could be another thrilling battle this season, with both teams strengthening in the transfer window.
And while Chelsea and City look set to remain on top, challengers have been building below with Arsenal set to embark on a new era under Swedish boss Jonas Eidevall.
The Gunners, WSL champions in 2019, have new players – including England’s Nikita Parris – as well as a new manager and we could even see a new style of play.
Elsewhere, Manchester United are also in transition under new manager Marc Skinner, but could be playing catch-up after losing key players Lauren James, Amy Turner and Tobin Heath last summer following ex-boss Casey Stoney’s departure.
Everton have recruited strongly and are eyeing up a Champions League qualification challenge, while Brighton and Tottenham have been ambitious in the transfer market.
Are Chelsea even stronger?
To remain on top, Chelsea have needed to strengthen.
They were able to recruit one of their priority targets – teenage forward James, who joined from Manchester United in a high-profile four-year deal.
The Blues also signed PSV and Netherlands defender Aniek Nouwen, while securing key forward Fran Kirby and highly-rated goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger on contract extensions.
With Pernille Harder, Sam Kerr, Magdalena Eriksson and Ji So-yun already on their books, it is hard to improve a squad packed with talent, so adding further depth has been their intention.
Who are the new international stars?
Last season saw several big stars from across the pond join the WSL and it has been no different this summer.
Among Manchester City’s new recruits are Jamaica international Khadija Shaw and former Barcelona captain Vicky Losada.
Rivals Manchester United have brought in exciting Norwegian midfielder Vilde Boe Risa, while former Real Madrid forward Chioma Ubogagu and Australian international Kyah Simon has joined Tottenham.
Everton have welcomed home England forward Toni Duggan from Atletico Madrid and former Juventus midfielder Aurora Galli will become the first Italian to play in the WSL for the Toffees.
Elsewhere, Arsenal signed Parris from Lyon, defender Louise Quinn joined Birmingham City from Fiorentina, former AC Milan striker Natasha Dowie moved to Reading and Brighton brought in striker Danielle Carter for an undisclosed fee.
Who are the new managers?
Eidevall joined Arsenal from Rosengard in June following the departure of Joe Montemurro after four years in charge.
The Swede, who had a brief spell as Henrik Larsson’s assistant at Helsingborgs, led Rosengard to three league titles in two spells and helped them reach the quarter-finals of last season’s Champions League.
Manchester United’s new boss Skinner impressed while at Birmingham City between 2016 and 2019, leading them to the 2017 FA Cup final.
He also guided the Blues to a fourth-placed finish in the WSL in his final season, before joining Orlando Pride in 2019.
Birmingham City also have a new manager with former boss Carla Ward moving to rivals Aston Villa this season.
Scott Booth joined the Blues from Glasgow City, where he won six successive league titles.