Women’s Super League: Five players to watch as season kicks off

Sam Kerr and Chelsea celebrate after winning the Women's FA Cup final in May. (Eddie Keogh/The FA via Getty Images)

The Women’s Super League season begins Friday after delaying kickoff by a week to honor Queen Elizabeth II after her death on Sept. 8.

Tabbed by Arsenal star Leah Williamson as “the best league in the world” in terms of competitiveness, the WSL has seen a wave of attention (and ticket sales) after England’s triumph in the UEFA Women’s EURO in July.

While the league has seen some key departures in Georgia Stanway and Keira Walsh, others such as Rachel Daly are sure to wow fans.

Just Women’s Sports has five players to watch as the action kicks off.

Sam Kerr

Club: Chelsea
Key Stats from 2021-22: 23 goals

Kerr spent last season atop the Super League, winning the Golden Boot as the league’s top scorer for the second straight season and helping Chelsea take the WSL title for the third straight season.

She notched a brace in last year’s FA Cup final against Arsenal, winning Player of the Match as she helped the club secure the domestic quadruple – the first English women’s club to do so.

Her efforts earned her third place in the 2021 Ballon d’Or standings, behind Barcelona’s Jennifer Hermoso and winner Alexia Putellas.

Beth Mead

Club: Arsenal
Key Stats: 72 chances created, 11 goals, 8 assists

One of the top players in WSL history, Beth Mead is coming off a season in which she led the league in assists and became the all-time assists leader.

She also was named Player of the Season for Arsenal after breaking the record for most chances created in a season (72) – a number that was more than double the second-place total (48).

The 27-year-old also led the league in most big chances created (13), most key passes (65) and most goal-creating actions (18).

Vivianne Miedema

Club: Arsenal
Key Stats: 14 goals, 8 assists

While many thought a departure from Arsenal could be in Vivianne Miedema’s future after the 2021-22 season, she opted to re-sign with the club on a one-year deal, which made her the highest-paid women’s player in England.

The top goalscorer in Women’s Super League history, Miedema is the only player to score against every team she’s faced in the league. Twice she’s won the Golden Boot, and she has finished as the runner-up to Kerr in the past two seasons.

She’s good on the assist as well, tying with teammate Beth Mead and Manchester United’s Ella Toone for the most assists last season with eight.

Rachel Daly

Club: Aston Villa
Key Stats: 9 regular-season goals in NWSL

Rachel Daly arrives back in the WSL after spending the summer with the Lionesses. She opted to leave the NWSL and remain in England in order to be closer to family.

Daly spent the past seven years with the Houston Dash, where she served as captain and scored a franchise-high 33 regular season goals during her tenure. She’s no stranger to the WSL, having spent time with Leeds United, Lincoln Ladies and West Ham United.

Her move should have no small impact on Aston Villa, as USWNT and Portland Thorns defender Becky Sauerbrunn called her transfer “such a loss” to the NWSL.

“She’s definitely one of those players that I know I hate going up against because she is that good and some players think they’re that good and that’s also super irritating to me, but she is actually that good,” Sauerbrunn said. “So, in a weird way, I am gonna miss her.”

Mary Earps

Club: Manchester United
Key Stats: 10 clean sheets

Fresh off a stellar summer with the England national team, Mary Earps will step back into net for Manchester United. She had the second-most clean sheets last season and was one of the league’s best goaltenders all season long, only allowing 21 goals through 21 games.

While Ann-Katrin Berger earned WSL Goalkeeper of the Year honors, Earps certainly deserved to be on the shortlist. And her stellar summer, which only cemented her place as one of England’s top goalkeepers, puts her on this list as one to watch as the WSL season gets underway.