Written by Courtney Hill (@cjhsport)
This season of English women’s football has been a historic one.
The Super League became the first full-time women’s professional league and Manchester United finally joined the 21st century and founded a women’s side.
As we reach the half-way point of the 18/19 season, and the players enjoy their winter break, I reflect back on the story so far in the Super League.
Having not won the league title since 2012, Arsenal set out to make a statement of intent in the first half of the season and having lost only one game (vs Man City), they’ve proven that they’re good enough to go all the way.
Arsenal go into the winter break top of the table, level on points with City – who pose the biggest threat to their title challenge. The Gunners do, however, have a game in hand on City which could be vital come the end of the season.
All eyes will be on the reverse fixture between the two top sides to see who prevails this time round.
Perhaps one of my favourite teams in women’s football at the minute is Bristol City.
Last season they lost some of their best players, along with manager Willie Kirk – but like all great clubs do, they built their way back up.
With one of the most youthful sides in the Super League, they’ve made some notable statements including a 2-2 draw away to Manchester City and a 0-0 draw to Chelsea – arguably two of the best teams in the league.
With raw young guns such as Sophie Baggaley, Poppy Pattinson, Carla Humphrey, Ella Rutherford, and Lucy Graham, Bristol are building a foundation based on youth.
While there is still a long way to go, this approach is proving to be successful for them and makes them one of the most exciting teams in the league to watch this season.
Chelsea were among those who had perhaps a tougher start to the season than their counterparts.
After winning the league in 17/18 by some margin, it seems losing Eni Aluko to Juventus was a bigger hit than some may have first anticipated.
A particularly disappointing start saw multiple 0-0 draws for the Blues. The second half of the season can be used as a means of redemption for them.
Chelsea have really begun to pick up the pace again and the next half will be huge for them – especially if they want to challenge for the title and get a Champions League spot, which they are 5 points off currently.
Liverpool had a huge transfer overhaul in the summer after losing a significant chunk of players.
Starting XI mainstays including Martha Harris, Alex Greenwood, and Siobhan Chamberlain all left for Manchester United in the summer. Liverpool even acquired a new manager in Neil Redfearn who quit his job just one day into their campaign, not the most auspicious start for the Reds.
With just three wins in 11 games, Liverpool could face a relegation battle unless they see a drastic change in 2019.
Vivianne Miedema – Arsenal
After an impressive Euros campaign with the Netherlands in 2017, Vivianne Miedema saw herself rewarded with a move to one of the biggest clubs in women’s football – and hasn’t looked back since.
With a staggering 14 goals in just eight games in both the league and cup competitions this season already, she is on course to break the record for the most goals scored in a single campaign. Her link up play with Jordan Nobbs is particularly impressive and she has been Arsenal’s go to for goals in big moments.
Miedema has also signed a new contract at Arsenal, committing her long-term future to the club.
Georgia Stanway – Manchester City
After taking the U19s World Cup by storm in the summer, Georgia Stanway found herself as one of the first names on Nick Cushing’s starting XI at City – and she has not disappointed.
Her goalscoring form in the World Cup carried into the season. Stanway already has 10 goals in the league, joint-second in the division, and she is just 19.
She has proved a vital player for City this season with game winning goals that could prove to be crucial to their title challenge in the long run.
League Winner Prediction
Arguments can be had for both Arsenal and Man City who go into the winter break currently level on points at the top of the table with a, potentially crucial, game in hand for Arsenal.
Arsenal however have lost two of their most important players in Jordan Nobbs and Kim Little, and are having to rely on inexperienced youth players.
In this case, City have better squad depth and have exercised this in the Conti Cup – winning five in five with what is essentially a heavily rotated, second string squad. Thus, they are probably in a better position to deal with any big players getting injured.
Yeovil, who sit bottom of the table on three points, is looking the most likely of teams to be relegated into the Championship, but there is a pool of players at the bottom at risk of falling into dangerous territory, including Brighton, Liverpool and Everton.
Brighton has four points, Everton have five points and Liverpool have ten points – but Everton looks the most likely to climb the table after a successful start under newly appointed manager Willie Kirk.
Despite being the furthest ahead of the bottom half teams, Liverpool has already lost seven games of a possible 11 and could risk slipping further down unless they find that clinical edge to get them past opponents.