The FA WSL 2013 edition will be extremely open. Although a recent facebook poll by the fans makes Arsenal favorite, it is not likely to be a repeat of last year’s unbeaten season for the Gunners.
Why ? because a revolution is coming to the FA WSL. Full time football has entered women’s football in England and it will have a huge impact on the title race. There is a huge difference between training twice a week like most FA WSL side are still doing and training 4 or 5 times a week. With 5 times a week training,you can do extra work on the technical side, you can have a proper preparation on strength/weakness of the next opponent. You also build up your fitness level such an important component of women’s football in England.
So with Liverpool going now with the 4/5 days training schedule and a certain number of Chelsea players training daily ( those who don’t have another job) , it will certainly create some excitement. The 14 games format might actually prevent those 2 teams from gelling and overtaking the top 2 teams as 1 or 2 defeats is really the maximum to be conceded for a title pretender. On a 22 games season for example, Liverpool and Chelsea would have had more times to develop their attacking game and players’ understanding.
So what do we know or what can be predicted ?
The Doncaster Belles are likely to finish at the bottom of the table if they do not sign a couple of experienced player because they have a lot of young english talent with a big potential. But it is not enough in general to win games, “you can never win anything with kids” is obviously wrong as proven by United but can be true in the WSL. Prediction 7 or 8th place. Put it this way, the Belles are doing a great thing giving young English players a chance to play in the WSL. In every competition, there will be teams fighting at the bottom of the table, so even if they struggle in term of results, they still do one of the job asked for the WSL side ie develop English players unlike other side who have gone abroad to consolidate their squad.
Lincoln Ladies have a fantastic manager in Rick Passmoor and kept the same team as last year bar Staniforth who was so important on set pieces. They have also added Bardsley. What is guaranteed is Lincoln will have a very compact defensive block with a strong triangle in Bradley, Stoney and Bardsley and therefore will be difficult to beat. They might struggle again to score goals from the center forward position. Prediction 5th to 7th. If they can find goals from the forwards, they could end up in the top half though.
Bristol Academy have lost the FA WSL player of the year to Seattle and have signed Staniforth Harries and Natalia, it will interesting to see how the team will evolve without Fishlock’s driving force. Some players like Jemma Rose will have to step-up and take the leadership alongside Del Rio. Prediction 5th to 7th
Everton have lost a few players but managed to keep in demand players like Duggan and Jill Scott. The players coming up from the youth teams like Parris and Greenwood were given a chance last year and did not disappoint so you can expect more young quality player like Paige Williams to step up. Prediction 5th to 7th
Chelsea Ladies brought a good number of experienced foreign players from Brazil, Iceland and Sweden plus Holtham and Aluko to add to the squad. with the new training conditions, Emma Hayes could create a nice attacking team. The only problem is it will take time for the team to gel. Prediction 2nd to 4th.
Birmingham City Ladies managed to keep the same squad as last year except for Aluko, Spencer and Taylor. 4 England youth international with a high potential have come in for those 3 players If no key player gets injured or suspended, Birmingham will compete for a top 2 spot.Karen Carney’s injury at the Cyprus Cup could keep her out for up to 6 weeks is not a good news for Blues. Prediction 1st to 4th.
Liverpool Ladies have made huge changes bringing 12 and letting go 13 players. If they can gel quickly enough, they will certainly be title contenders because the starting 11 which will be 100% different from the beginning of 2012 is strong in every position. When I saw them play a few weeks there was a lot of work in progress to do in term of attacking as expected but individualities did shine on the day. The 14 games format means that they could run out of time, before they hit their full potential. Prediction 1st to 4th
Arsenal have got a new manager Shelley Kerr and welcome back Becky Spencer and kept everybody else including on demand players like Smith, Scott or White. Stability is the main word here but will this be enough to contain rivals that are improving every seasons and getting closer every year. At the moment, the attacking style seems ready as seen in friendlies and Arsenal should hit the ground running from Day 3 as their first two League games will be postponed, should they beat Torres in the UEFA WCL. new of Chapman’s pregnancy and White’s retirement means a slightly weakened side before Chapman’s return in the 2nd half of the season. Prediction 1st to 4th.
Besides the Belles, the other 7 teams are all capable of beating each other on the day and we might see many surprises this season and definitely a very different final table from the last 2 seasons. I really expect a 4 horses race for the 2 champions league places. The first games will be crucial because those who loose or draw too many games will quickly go out of the Champions league race. Maybe Everton will learn the lesson from the 2 previous ones “it is not a marathon, it is a sprint” not the other way round.
And the funniest thing is Arsenal’s first two games will be postponed and played later if they beat Torres Terra Sarda in the Champions League quarter final. How bad was the planning by the FA ? You would never see that in the men’s premier league ! If those 2 games are postponed, we will see another season where the table is difficult to read as in season 1 where Birmingham took the lead from Day 1 and let it go only after Day 13 when Arsenal played their game in hand.