Every WSL club’s player of the 2022/23 season
In years to come, people will look back on the 2022/23 WSL season as a pivotal moment in the league’s history – one where it suddenly became a much bigger deal.
Chelsea were crowned champions ahead of Manchester United on the final day, while Arsenal pipped Manchester City to the third and final Champions League spot.
It was highly competitive throughout, with the relegation battle also not decided until the last day, and record viewing figures both in stadiums and on television.
Here, 90min picks the standout player from each and every team.
When Frida Maanum went down injured during Arsenal’s WSL game against Manchester United in April, the Gunners’ season could have been over. She had been carrying the team since the losses of Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema and losing her too would have been the final straw.
But the Norwegian got back to her feet and carried on. She top scored with nine goals in the WSL and 16 in all competitions, yet her tireless running and the consistency of her performances, always seeming to pop up in the key moments – like against Manchester City – really stand her out.
Prior to 2022/23, Rachel Daly hadn’t completed a full WSL season since 2012. Most English fans also only knew her as a defender thanks to starting at left-back during the Lionesses’ Euro 2022 triumph last summer. But Aston Villa signed her as a striker, the role she had played at Houston Dash.
Few could have predicted the kind of impact that Daly would have. Her 22 WSL goals earned the 31-year-old the Golden Boot, but also equalled the league’s single season scoring record held by Miedema from the 2018/19 campaign.
Brighton winger Katie Robinson was one of the breakout stars of the 2022/23 WSL season, likely doing enough to get a place in England’s World Cup squad and setting up a transfer battle between Manchester United and Manchester City for her signature.
The 20-year-old has been sharp and electric throughout, racking a goal or assist (10 in total) almost every other league game. That’s a fantastic return in a struggling team that wasn’t safe from relegation until the final month of the season.
Stop Guro Reiten, stop Chelsea. Stop Guro Reiten, cut off the supply to Sam Kerr. But keeping a lid on the creative Norwegian is easier said than done and she finished the campaign with 11 WSL assists to her name and another nine goals of her own.
On two occasions this season, Reiten registered four assists in a single game. The first of those was in the Champions League against Vllaznia, with the second in a WSL game against Leicester.
Until injury prematurely ended her season in April, Jess Park was turning in consistently high performances for Everton on loan from Manchester City. She had been a fringe player at City and needed the regular game time that an improving Toffees team could offer.
Park was Everton’s chief creative spark, leading the team in goals until April and finishing as their top assist maker with four in the WSL. The 22-year-old was also good enough to play her way into the England squad, making three appearances following her November debut.
Leicester had lost nine consecutive games to open their WSL campaign. Then, in Janina Leitzig’s first appearance upon arriving on loan from Bayern Munich in January, the goalkeeper was instrumental in keeping a clean sheet to underpin the team’s first league win.
The commanding German stopper went on to keep four more clean sheets and Leicester, despite their woefully poor output in front of goal – just 0.68 goals per game – stayed up by five points.
If Liverpool were going to re-establish themselves as a WSL team following promotion back to the top flight at the end of last season, the Reds were going to need bite and a competitive spirit in the middle of the pitch, and they had that through Ceri Holland.
The 25-year-old brought balance to the team alongside the equally tenacious but more attack-minded Missy Bo Kearns in midfield. Holland was particularly good at winning the ball back in the centre of the pitch and relieving pressure on the defence behind her.
Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw had to share game time with Ellen White during her debut season at Manchester City. But the striker really came into her own following the England veteran’s retirement last summer and racked up an impressive 20 WSL goals.
Shaw led the line as a traditional ‘number nine’ and was an intimidating presence for every defence she face over the course of the campaign.
The dual impact of Ona Batlle throughout the 2022/23 season was out of this world. She was almost unbeatable in a defensive capacity as one fifth of the meanest back five in the WSL – just 12 goals conceded in 22 games – characterised no better than the way she shut down Lauren Hamp in Manchester United’s first ever league win over Manchester City in May.
But the Spaniard was also one of the team’s most dynamic attacking players and often held the key to unlocking stubborn defences. Her nine WSL assists was bettered only by Chelsea’s Reiten.
This is not a season on which Reading will look back fondly, dropping out of the WSL for the first time since promotion in 2015. But Belgian midfielder Justine Vanhaevermaet stood out for her performances in an otherwise pretty dismal campaign.
Vanhaevermaet is a proven WSL player over two seasons with the Royals and could potentially be a shrewd signing for a top flight club this summer.
Chances are that Tottenham wouldn’t still be a WSL club without Bethany England. What’s more, she has played herself back into World Cup contention with the Lionesses for this summer.
Spurs were heading only one way until investing heavily to bring in the striker from Chelsea, rescuing England from a back-up role in the process. She scored 12 times in 12 WSL games to drag the previously goal-shy team away from the relegation zone and to the relative comfort of ninth.
It wasn’t a great year for West Ham as they failed to build on last season’s impressive top half finish, unable to challenge the likes of Aston Villa or Everton in that bracket of clubs just below the big four. Manager Paul Konchesky also left his job the day after the final game.
Within all of that, Dagny Brynjarsdottir had a decent campaign in her first as club captain. From midfield, the Icelandic star was the team’s joint top scorer in the league with goals and the only player in claret and blue to reach double figures in all competitions.
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