WSL 2022/23: record attendances and unstoppable goalkeepers - how the league looks ahead of Christmas

Chelsea top the table going into the Christmas break with Arsenal one step behind

There is just one more match to be played before the Women’s Super League takes a well-earned break over the Christmas period and, as it stands, Chelsea are currently leading the way with Leicester City sitting at the other end of the table, yet to score a single point.

Chelsea have lost just one of their 10 fixtures and, despite sitting on top, they are being closely followed by Arsenal, who are three points behind with one game in hand. It has been far from a quiet start to the season with record attendances being achieved as well as an ever-growing pool of talent emerging from the youth academies.

As we head into the Christmas break and mourn nearly a month without WSL action, here is our rundown of some biggest talking points from the season so far…

North London derby record attendance

Early on in the season, Arsenal thrashed their north London rivals Tottenham 4-0 in front of over 47,000 people at the Emirates Stadium. This was the highest ever attendance at a WSL fixture and was most definitely the product of a phenomenal summer for women’s football, culminating in England’s Euro success.

However, this has not been a one off occasion and overall the WSL has seen attendance up by 200% compared to last season. On average, 6,000 people have been travelling to WSL grounds to watch their stars in action which is nearly double the number that was seen in the 2019/20 pre-Covid season.

As the Lionesses prepare to go one step further and bring home the World Cup trophy next summer, hopefully their supporters will continue to rally around them as much as they have this half of the season.

The unstoppable Mary Earps and Manuela Zinsberger

Manchester United and Arsenal are two of the most successful sides this season and recognition for their ongoing triumphs must be credited to their phenomenal goalkeepers.

Earps celebrates another clean sheet against Aston VillaEarps celebrates another clean sheet against Aston Villa
Earps celebrates another clean sheet against Aston Villa

Any Lioness fan will know the incredible ability of United’s final line of defence, Mary Earps. In six matches at the Euro 2022 campaign, Earps let in just two goals and her record has continued into the WSL season.

She and Zinsberger both have six clean sheets from their nine matches. In fact, one of their worst fixtures came against each other when United beat the Gunners 3-2. Their resilience at the back has, at times, been phenomenal and if either side are to win the league, they must hope Earps and Zinsberger stay in the form we have seen so far this season and refrain from sustaining any injuries.

The versatility of WSL’s top goalscorer Rachel Daly

Apologies must go to Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw for this paragraph as the Manchester City striker has the same number of goals to her name and one more assist than Daly.

However, how many players do you know that play striker for club and defence for their country?

Rachel Daly for Villa Rachel Daly for Villa
Rachel Daly for Villa

Rachel Daly moved back to the WSL at the beginning of the season, following a successful stint at Houston Dash and has been an irrepressible force up front for Aston Villa. She has eight goals to her name in just nine games and ten in all competitions so far this season. The 31-year-old has helped Villa to sixth in the league all the while helping keep up England’s defences in her role as left-back for her country.

Daly won Barclays Player of the Month award for November and her manager, Carla Ward, has said of her: “I think you can play her anywhere. And we’ve seen that for England, where she’s played right-back, left-back or coming in off the left or down the middle. She is a very, very talented individual.”

The excitement of the title chase

Of course, we are only half way through the season so the title is still very much up for grabs. But, unlike last season, there seem a few more genuine contenders for this year’s title. While Chelsea sit at the top, Arsenal are fighting closely behind with a game in hand and as both Vivianne Miedema and Leah Williamson return from their respective breaks, they will add some much needed fire into the Gunners dressing room.

However, Manchester United are also putting up a more unexpected battle in hope of upsetting the usual favourites and they will take particular comfort in knowing they head into the Christmas break with a three points advantage over local rivals Manchester City.

The bookie’ still put Chelsea at the top but the second half of the season could be filled with even more drama as the top four still have it all to play for in terms of both winning the league and getting into the 2023/24 Champions League competition.